A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

shaun_the_sheep_movie_farmageddon_ver3STARS3.5Aardman Animations is one of those hallowed traditions in the grand cinema of the UK that includes Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, kitchen sink realism, James Bond, Monty Python, and Agatha Christie adaptations.  A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon was released to UK theaters on October 18th, 2019.  In the U.S. Netflix bought the distribution rights and released it to the streaming platform on Valentine’s Day the following February.  This is ostensibly a sequel to the Shaun the Sheep Movie from 2015 but honestly, if you haven’t seen that, it wouldn’t matter.  No prior knowledge is necessary.  This captivating tale stands on its own.

This amalgamation of sci-fi and comedy is such sweet, funny, innocent fun.  A reliable narrative holds few surprises.   If you’ve seen other releases from Aardman Animations, then you know exactly what you’re getting — a lighthearted, stop-motion animated, romp.  They came out of the gate with the huge boffo worldwide success of Chicken Run in 2000.  Since then each subsequent release has earned a little less than the one before.  Yet the quality of their output has always remained high and meaningful nonetheless.

This account concerns what happens when a UFO landing occurs near Mossy Bottom Farm.  Shaun (Justin Fletcher ) immediately gets involved to help an impish alien named Lu-La (Amalia Vitale), from the planet To-Pa, get back home.  I feel like I already lost a few readers.  Yes, it’s silly.  “Farmageddon” is actually the name of the alien-based theme park that Farmer John (Chris Morrell) creates to exploit the situation to make money.  His dependable and sensible sheepdog Bitzer (John Sparkes) is thankfully back as well.

The adherence to no-dialogue still holds.  Communication relies merely on grunts and shrugs, not intelligible conversation.  Instead, the story is advanced through pantomime and visual cues to propel the plot.  It’s all about the sight gag.  Legendary silent-movie star Buster Keaton built an entire career in the 1920s on the comedic style and this production ably honors that tradition in a contemporary era.  There’s a toe-tapping soundtrack too.  The Chemical Brothers and Kylie Minogue (with English indie rock band, The Vaccines) make appearances that underscore delightful vignettes.

Farmageddon is worth your time, but it isn’t for all tastes.  The chronicle depends on a certain oft kilter sensibility that not all viewers will possess.   Perhaps children may comprehend this more than adults as they admirably have the right mindset for a carefree and nonsensical storyline.  I guess I’m a child at heart because I adored this film.  The slender suggestion of a screenplay is essentially an excuse for manic sequences.  There’s an inherent purity in such simple ambition.  Now, who can’t appreciate that in these troubled times?  Shaun the Sheep is a welcome break from our current reality.

03-19-20

14 Responses to “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon”

  1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the Shaun the Sheep movie technically a spin-off movie using the sheep character from the 3rd (?) Wallace and Gromit movie, A Close Shave? I LOVE those movies and I think they’re also Aardman entertainment properties. The animation is the same anyway, which also explains Chicken Run. May need to double check that.

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    • Yup, all Aardman stuff. Our greatest export since the cup of tea.

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      • I didn’t think Shaun was that sheep but just checked and turns out you’re bang on. Anyway, if you’l excuse me, I need to spend the day watching Aardman movies.

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    • Shaun got to be the star of his own film in Shaun the Sheep. However, you’re right that Shaun originally appeared in concept in the 30-minute short film A Close Shave (1995) starring Wallace and Gromit. He played a young lamb that had narrowly escaped a “cattle raiding” operation and found himself in the inventor’s home.

      A Grand Day Out (1989) and The Wrong Trousers (1993) were earlier shorts. I loved those as well.

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      • Oh yeah! I’ve exhausted The Wrong Trousers/A Grand Day Out on VHS over my many trips to England to visit grandparents back when I was a kid. They had a small but pretty solid collection of entertainment, including Jurassic Park and the Full Monty.

        I’ll always love Wallace and Gromit.

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  2. Loved this film. Saw it a few weeks ago and cheered me up no end. Best Britcom since Paddington 2. Have since bought the bluray double-pack so can see the first one too, although, as I understand it, that’s not meant to be as good.

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  3. Rachel's Reviews Says:

    I also am a child at heart because I also adored this film

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  4. I have to watch a lot of children’s films because I own a three year old and I mostly don’t enjoy them much. I got bored with the first Shaun the Sheep film too. This one I loved though. We took the three year old to watch it at the cinema, which is quite hard as he finds loud noises quite scary but he was entranced. All the little sci-fi Easter eggs were just so much fun.

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    • Oh my gosh! So many references to other sci-Fi stories across multiple mediums. From the tonal notes in Close Encounters of the Third Kind to when Shaun and Lu-La spot a bicycle with a wicker basket that is reminiscent of Elliot’s mode of transportation in E.T. the Extraterrestrial. I loved those little details!

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  5. This was such a cute film. I always enjoy these films. Very much to say, with very little dialog. I too, love all the little references to other films. Yes, this was more tailored to younger kids, but this adult enjoyed it too.

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