Film

‘Shaun the Sheep Movie’ Is a Superior Pantomime Gag Machine

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The worst thing you can say about stop-motion kids adventure Shaun the Sheep Movie is that it’s a feature-length series of sight gags. Based on the popular British TV series, Shaun the Sheep Movie revolves around the pantomime humor of the woolly title character (Justin Fletcher) leading a flock of sheep in finding and returning the Farmer (John Sparkes), their bumbling owner, to home after he sustains a memory-and-personality-erasing bump on the head.

Shaun and friends’ adventures aren’t motivated by anything more complex than a circumstantial imperative to avoid capture by Trumper (Omid Djalili), a clueless animal control warden.

The search for the Farmer does not incidentally relate any life lessons nor provide insights about family or group dynamics. Instead, the filmmakers offer a consistently enjoyable series of pratfalls and chase scenes, all expertly timed and crafted. Like other feature films produced by Aardman Studios (Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run), the film’s stop-motion animation lends the sets and characters a distinctive handmade look.

The arduous nature of its creation forced the creators to focus on the pacing and choreography of their exceptional set pieces. As a result, even minor comedy routines, like the scene where Shaun and his sheep friends dress up in human clothes and reflexively imitate everything a neighboring customer does, win a steady stream of laughs — this is a superior gag-delivery vehicle.

Like a great amusement park ride, Shaun the Sheep Movie is consistently enjoyable.

Shaun the Sheep Movie

Directed by Mark Burton and Richard Goleszowski

Lions Gate

Opens August 7

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