A Shaun the Sheep Movie

Review by Rich Cline | 4/5

Shaun, Bitzer and Timmy
dir Will Becher, Richard Phelan
prd Paul Kewley
scr Jon Brown, Mark Burton
voices Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Amalia Vitale, Kate Harbour, Richard Webber, Simon Greenall, Emma Tate, Andy Nyman, David Holt, Chris Morrell, Joe Sugg
release UK 18.Oct.19,
US 13.Dec.19
19/UK StudioCanal 1h26

vitale nyman sugg
See also:
Shaun the Sheem Movie (2015)

The virtually wordless adventures of a British lamb and his mischievous flock continue in this joyously crazed romp, which references virtually every sci-fi movie and television show in history in a way that will keep the grown-ups chortling. Meanwhile, the children will be howling at riotously staged slapstick mayhem that plays merrily with the characters and themes to make everything even more relentlessly loveable.
After a spaceship crashes near Mossybottom Farm, adorable alien Lu-La (Vitale) discovers the joys of chips and pizza before encountering Shaun (Fletcher) and the flock. Shaun takes her in, and tries to help her return to her ship and contact home. This secretive activity alerts stern sheepdog Bitzer (also Sparkes) to investigate what the sheep are up to this time. Meanwhile, the Farmer (Sparkes) cashes in on the UFO craze by creating a "Farmageddon" theme park. And in the nearby village, federal Agent Red (Harbour) is following clues to get to the bottom of things.
Each of these plot strands is fully formed without the need for dialog. Characters mumble nonsense to each other, conveying everything the audience needs to know, including back stories that add surprising kicks of emotion to each plot thread, from the way Lu-La ended up on Earth to Red's first X Files-style encounter with alien life. The stop-motion is impeccably orchestrated, with an astonishing attention to detail, including witty gags in each frame, riffing on everything from Doctor Who to Gravity.

The characters are relentlessly loveable, each of them hapless in his or her own way. Everything that happens is just a little out of control (sometimes it's full-on mayhem), and the animators remember both the elaborate scale as well as the tiniest twitch of an eyelid. Which of course makes everything that happens both utterly ridiculous and surprisingly engaging. So when the emotional moments come along, we find ourselves with tears in our eyes even as we're giggling at something idiotic.

Sometimes this relentless chaos is a little exhausting, as absolutely nothing goes as anyone wants it to. And there are a few story points that feel just a bit much, such as Red's specially equipped super-van. But the blending of rural English farmyard life with a whizzy outer space adventure is remarkably seamless, with massive set-pieces that generate thrills and constant silliness on a variety of layers, aimed at young and old. This is a story about unlikely friendships, and it carries a properly joyful kick.

cert u themes, violence 15.Sep.19

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© 2019 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall