Shaun the Sheep has already conquered the world via the power of branded backpacks and sellable dialogue free short films so it’s good that in the movie version we continue to lack words and the backpack gets its own sight gag. We’re also firmly into Aardmanland – an inclusive, modern England that somehow also looks like a well-crafted Hovis advert. Combine all that into an 83 minute stop-motion film of quite amazing intelligence, wit and warmth and you have a movie that all should surrender to. It’s brilliant.
There is a story. It involves Farmer finding himself in Big City but forgetting who he is. It involves sheep trying to rescue him. It involves an evil animal quarantiner. It involves trendy modern hairstyles. It involves … oh, it pretty much involves everything. Shaun the Sheep is not overly frenetic but the movement is relentless. And each time we move on there are new, incredibly detailed, scenes to explore – goodness knows how many visual jokes and film references there must be but it would take a lifetime of rewatching to spot them all. Somehow, that doesn’t seem like a punishment.
Such is the nature of animation that I imagine it’s taken them something like 56 years to craft this film. We’ve come a long way since A Grand Day Out but the essential elements that Aardman consistently bring are still here. Hopefully there’s plenty more ideas whirring round their heads – this is a world that we should all want to visit again.