Mark Burton, the co-director and writer (with Richard Starzak) of “Shaun the Sheep Movie” doesn’t waste words here, but the gentle humor and loving message couldn’t be clearer. “Shaun the Sheep Movie” is baa-daciously fun and the comedy will easily translate to many cultures.
This isn’t a true silent movie. The animals and people speak but in non-sensical syllables where tone and melody are everything.
For those unfamiliar with Shaun, he was first introduced in the 1995 Wallace and Gromit stop-motion animated short film “A Close Shave.” In that short, Shaun escapes from a lorry and comes into contact with Wallace and Gromit who are running a window-cleaning business. Wallace puts Shaun into one of Wallace’s new devices, a Knit-o-matic which gives him a light shave and Wallace names the sheep “Shaun,” punning on “shorn.”
Shaun went on to be part of a children’s TV series in 2007 to the present and has also had a spin-off in which the lamb, Timmy Time, stars.
Shaun (Justin Fletcher) now lives in Mossy Bottom with the flock that includes among others: Shirley (Richard Webber), the largest member of the flock, Shaun’s cousin Timmy (Fletcher), the only lamb of the flock, Timmy’s mother and Nuts (Andy Nyman) a sheep with different sized eyes. Every day proceeds the same. The farmer (John Sparkes), a balding red-haired middle-aged man, fumbles to turn off the alarm. He gets up and slams the front door into his dog Bitzer (Sparkes). Bitzer, dressed in a blue knight cap, and a knitted wrist band on one foreleg and a wristwatch on the other, accompanies him. The farmer looks at a clipboard and checks off their routine. Together, the farmer and the dog open the door and count the sheep as they cross the road into the field and later bring them back and lock them into the shed.
Bored with the monotony, Shaun sees a bus with an advertisement about taking a day off. Plotting with the flock, Shaun bribes a duck to distract the dog while he and the flock lull the farmer to sleep and leave him in a trailer home. The trailer home accidentally rolls down the road and hitches a ride into the Big City. Bitzer tries to fetch the farmer, leaving the sheep behind.
Life on the farm falls into chaos without Bitzer and the farmer, with the hogs go “Animal Farm” crazy and take over the house. Shaun decides to journey into the Big City, bidding farewell to the flock.
In the city, the farmer has received a blow to the head and has lost his memory, but finds a vocation and becomes famous. Bitzer, Shaun and eventually the flock must hide from the evil man, A. Trumper (Omid Djalili) at animal control while searching for the farmer. A streetwise stray dog, Slip (voiced by Tim Hands), helps them in their search.
There will be a happy ending. Sheep and people will be shorn. The villain will be defeated and the farmer will be re-united with the sheep through love of the G-rated kind. This is good Aardman and is almost guaranteed to give children and adults a smile.