There may be cuter things in the world than fluffy, plasticine sheep, but post this farm animation bliss, we cannot think of any that could match up to them. Shaun is an adventurous little fellow, stuck in the rut between a herd of sheep on a far somewhere in “Wild West” America. The farm he stays on runs like clockwork; everyone from the spider on top of his little bed, to the resident sheep dog to the farmer himself follows the schedule, scurrying along from waking up, feeding, getting shorn to be herded back into the shed at sundown. Shaun, unhappy about his monotonous life, wants a break, and an advertisement on the city bus tells him what he exactly needs: a day off for himself. Every dog apparently gets its day, so why not sheep? The very enterprising Shaun organises a day off by tricking the very bored farmer (the ability to make anyone sleep by the sheep jumping rails in synchronicity is the ace up their sleeve) and before he knows it, the farmer has fallen into one very relaxed sleeping pattern. The situation changes into Animal Farm dystopia with the sheep taking over his house, and holding an impromptu party. All is not well, however, and somehow the caravan in which the farmer is stashed away ends up rolling down all the way to the scary big city. Without a head to look after them, the animal troupe (pigs, chickens, dog) become even more raucous, and it is up to the sheep to invade the world of the humans, take care to not be discovered, yet retrieve their master back to the farm. The process of retrieving the human master from the big city turns out to be one (many) adventure rides for the herd of sheep involving disguising as humans, eating in a French restaurant and one very evil animal containment officer who’s life’s aim is to catch all stray animals.
Shaun the Sheep is the best way to absorb a morality tale on the meaning of compassion in friendship. Scatalogical at times, it does succumb to easy gags, but overall,makes for easy watching, with clever little insights built from the amusing characters’ back stories. Shaun is the agile kid who turns out to be the team leader of the other peaceable sheep. All animals are anthropomorphic, and while the humans speak in gibberish, the sheep can read and write English perfectly. Not only that, they have the problem solving skills, decision making skills and can organise themselves into a team if need be.
Shot on a limited budget, and set up in a warehouse, Shaun the Sheep entertains on the strength of its engaging script, and the delightful detailing of all the characters. The animation’s beauty is its simplicity, and the movie pulls off all its gags without resorting to technical sophistry. The background score isn’t imaginative in itself, using classical bits and hillbilly music from time to time, but creatively used to push the story forward. This is not one of your savvy Pixar animated movies. It is closer to good old cartoon films from the ’90s, which just goes to show how important script is, when it comes to animation. The film takes cues from society, and it is heart-warming to see a film peopled with individuals from mixed races, heck, from all kinds of species. To top it all, the film isn’t completely copybook style when it comes to the plot, and has enough hooks and twists to keep you engaged, while being easy enough to be your weekend family outing (Revealing more would end up in spoilers).