Aardman Animations has never disappointed in their careful animation that brings these clay characters to life. With no dialogue and a score that appropriately follows the ups-and-downs of the story, it’s amazing how I can identify which sheep is which or why they feel happy to be reunited by the end of the movie. The endless visual gags and inane situations these characters find themselves in, like when Bitzer the dog has to perform an open-stomach surgery but gets distracted by the bones of the skeletal model in the operating room, evoke laughter from any age. Every small joke feels wonderfully inventive and even feels relatable, like how the sheeps' weary montage from their rural routine can be applied to our lethargic 9-5 office workdays. Shaun the Sheep is told through the expressive faces of each of these plasticine creations, a feat that shouldn’t be undervalued (look for fingerprints!).
The sheep can’t casually roam The Big City for long; Trumper, an animal containment officer and the movie’s main villain, almost abducts them at every corner. He carries on more like a James Bond villain as he follows the sheep through various settings where havoc eventually wreaks. In a scene where the sheep are presented with menus in a fancy restaurant, the movie reminds us that these are sheep as they begin eating the menus with a knife and fork and pouring salt over them for flavor. It’s vintage silent comedy in 2015, cleverly disguised as an easy-to-follow children’s movie.
Playful and warm, Shaun the Sheep is all about the importance of family. The sheep’s only father figure is their farmer, and the sheep are what give him purpose. Throughout the movie, the sheep sing “Every day feels like summer with you,” and it’s so contagiously cute that I found myself grinning as I walked out of the theater. Shaun the Sheep is a rare and endearing delight that brings attention to detail, a charming addition to the intact Aardman Animations collection.