Wednesday, 11 February 2015

REVIEW - SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE (MARK BURTON AND RICHARD STARZAK)


Stop-motion animation from Aardman, who know that a multitude of shortcomings can swiftly be overlooked if a film makes you laugh. If the best films move you in one way or another, whether in provoking your deepest consideration or in scaring the wits out of you, then Shaun the Sheep Movie can be regarded as among them, given that it moved me to unabashed loling on countless occasions. Aardman's shortcomings are not particularly multitudinous, though they are curiously unnerving - more on that in a moment - so one requires some kind of crutch to endure this slightest of kids' films, and Shaun the Sheep Movie's charming sense of humour is support enough indeed. We're at our most vulnerable caught off guard, unprepared to be so amused by such simple gags, incapable of denying the intelligence with which this most ostensibly unintelligent humour is deployed, knocked for six by the writers' sheer precision. And thus they have us, emotionally, that they might next choose to elicit sympathetic tears from our eyes, or an empathic resolve toward these fictional sheep - not even human beings, SHEEP! - in their plight. But what a strange plight it is, as this herd risks incarceration, humiliation and death to win back the farmer they lost to amnesia and 'The Big City'. They gather pathetically around their food trough in search for food after having ousted their master. They put themselves in the way of direct and constant danger even after he has rejected them, solely to reinstate themselves in his service. This flock is the band of slaves, responsible for securing their own freedom, then desperate to have it rescinded, so incompetent they prove to be at leading independent lives. This may or may not be a shortcoming of Shaun the Sheep Movie, but its unnerving character - and it fits so neatly, so consistently through the narrative - is in dire need of being relieved. Thank goodness Shaun the Sheep makes you laugh, then.