Aardman Animations, the folks responsible for the “Wallace & Gromit” films and the edgy “Chicken Run,” always push the outside of the animation envelope. With no actual spoken dialogue, the “Shaun the Sheep” movie steps things up even more. Aardman’s big screen gamble pays off because this is a delightful and highly entertaining motion picture.
Shaun (voiced by Justin Fletcher) has a pretty good life on the farm, but he wants a day off from his normal routine. With the help of the rest of the flock, Shaun manages to keep the Farmer (John Sparkes) in bed for the day. Unfortunately, nothing goes as planned, sending the ingenious sheep to the Big City to set things right.
Based on the popular British animated series, the “Shaun the Sheep Movie” manages to say a lot by not saying much at all. The voice cast had their work cut out for them on this project. With meaningful grunts and other sounds, they skillfully convey what the characters are thinking and feeling. Some of the human “conversations” even sound like the adult voices in the classic “Peanuts” cartoons.
John Sparkes, who voices both the Farmer and Blitzer, his loyal sheepdog, has a great time with his roles. The unwitting Farmer makes one heck of a trip in the film, and Sparkes’ vocal expressions are quite amusing. As for Blitzer, he takes a real emotional journey and by the film’s end, he has new respect for both his boss and the sheep.
As the title character, Justin Fletcher does an excellent job as Shaun, the character driving the action. Shaun gets into trouble quite easily, but works extremely hard to fix what he messes up. Fletcher does double-duty here as Timmy, the youngest member of the flock who gets into dangerous situations.
Omid Djalili deserves mention as Thumper, the animal control officer who wants to put Shaun and the sheep into a holding cell. Thumper fancies himself as a high-tech guardian of the city and something of a ladies’ man. Even when he’s shown otherwise as Shaun eludes him, he still maintains a high opinion of himself.
Writer/directors Mark Burton and Richard Starzak have created a wonderful story that pokes fun at modern society while maintaining a delightful British sensibility. The duo examine fan worship, for instance, through a character called “Celebrity with Hair Trouble.” This celeb resolves his troubles with amusing consequences.
Clever and original, the “Shaun the Sheep Movie” is a treat, especially this late in the summer. It’s also a film suitable for everyone in the family.
“Shaun the Sheep Movie,” rated PG for rude humor, currently is playing in theaters.