I'm a big fan of Aardman Studios, the British company that makes really smart, really inventive, really clever, really hilarious animated stop-action animated films and shorts. They're the people behind Chicken Run and the "Wallace and Gromit" films, and the Oscar-winning short Creature Comforts. In fact, they've won at least three Oscars and have at least half a dozen nominations. (I can't pinpoint the exact number...)
Their newest film is Shaun the Sheep: the Movie, which is being released soon, but I saw over the weekend. And it's a hoot.
The film is sort of a cross between Chicken Run, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Mr. Bean. A group of sheep get bored being...well, sheep and want a day that isn't the same old routine, where they can just relax and have fun. The rambunctious Shaun devises an intricate plan that involves distracting their hapless nemesis Blixter the dog, and getting the Farmer away from the house briefly. But the farmer gets sent to the Big City by mistake where he ends up with amnesia, and the sheep have to go there to find him and bring him back. And things go a bit more awry.
It’s all done without any dialogue, but uses invigorating sound effects, a sort of mumbling whenever there’s something being said, and a wonderful, charming music score.
What I found out later is that Shaun the Sheep was a TV series in England for several years. They just expanded the premise to a full-length feature.
Rather than show the trailer -- which doesn't come close to dong the movie justice (our pal Nell Minow showed her typically fine taste and gave the movie a rare A- on her Movie Mom website here) -- I figured it better to have one of the TV segments instead. This is entitled, "Fleeced." It has the sensibility and whimsy of the movie, though it's much more limited in the flair, adventure and scope of the film which, especially when they make it to the Big City, is significantly more satirical. I enjoy this segment a lot. But I loved the movie.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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