Opening 19 Mar 2015
Writing credits: Mark Burton, Richard Starzak
Principal actors: Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Omid Djalili, Richard Webber, Kate Harbour
The title emphasizes “movie” because Shaun the Sheep originally began as an animated TV series in 2007 and is still running successfully right up to the present. In the film version baby Shaun has grown up a bit, or as producer David Sproxton says, “Shaun’s charm derives from the fact that he acts like a 12-year-old boy, whom everyone in the world can relate to.” The story opens on Monday, June 1, at Shaun’s farm with the usual problems and misunderstandings. It continues day by day, like a well-organized diary, until suddenly, the farmer runs off to the city. Shaun takes the initiative and, followed by the herd of sheep as well as the sheep dog, goes to find and, perhaps, even rescue him. This takes them into a city which, although animated, could very well be Hamburg in every way: lovingly illustrated streets, buildings, vehicles. They experience adventures in a restaurant, on a bus, in a hospital, at the hairdresser, etc. Any city presents unexpected dangers, especially for country-bumpkin sheep, but the greatest danger is the evil dog-catcher Trumper. He strove to become a policeman, but failed all tests, so must stick to making lives miserable for animals by locking them up in the city dog pound. As the film unfolds, we learn that even sheep need a break from their masters, that it can be dangerous to count sheep, and that it’s easier than you think to land behind bars.
Anyone who has been following the TV series will be delighted with this full-length movie. Fans of Chicken Run or Wallace and Gromit, also created by Richard Starzak and Mark Burton, will not be disappointed. Anyone who worries about understanding the language will be ecstatic, as there are no human words spoken – only animal talk and expressions, which everyone can understand. There are several new characters, such as the dog-catcher Trumper as well as a homeless city dog named Slip. This is equally a film for children and adults alike. I loved the sheep choir, “ba ba ha ha,” and the reference to Silence of the Lambs. (Becky Tan)