Shaun the Sheep Movie prances into theaters in one of the most traditionally mixed movie months of the year; August is a month where parents are trying to get their children ready to go back to school, most teenagers are gearing up for the forthcoming school-year, and many people, especially the summer’s target audience, kids and teenagers, are too busy to spend a few hours at the local multiplex. This is especially true for this summer because kids have found themselves spoiled with the likes of Pixar’s Inside Out and DreamWorks’ Minions, both of which made incredible money and are still raking in money.
Where does this leave Shaun the Sheep Movie, a film based on a series that was not only a spinoff of the famous Wallace and Gromit shorts, but also a more popular product in Britain than it ever was in the United States? The film informed us of its existence relatively early in the summer, not splashing into theaters with much pre-release hype nor a great deal of publicity, and even the presence of TV commercials has been decidedly muted. My guess is this is a film that arrives with a “too little, too late” stamp on it, especially after the tremendous and subversive Inside Out, that most kids who see it will be pleased but will have depressingly little to remember following the car ride home.
As passing entertainment and nothing else, Shaun the Sheep Movie does indeed work a tad better than Minions. The story is slim, concerning the titular character who is tired of the monotony of being a sheep. Hoping he could take a day off from his droll job, Shaun accidentally stows his owner (the farmer) away in a trailer that takes him on a ride to the big city. In the city, the farmer suffers a concussion, resulting in amnesia making him completely forget who he is or what his former life entailed. Shaun, Bitzer, the sheep-herding dog, and the remainder of the sheep venture to the big city to try and rescue the farmer and return him to the life he led before.
Shaun the Sheep Movie captures a wonderful sense of energy that only stop motion animation could. Chase scenes and sequences involving a lot of movement and action always seem to function the best with stop motion animation, largely due to the impeccable craft and detail that goes into making them so kinetic and fluid. In a time where most of the animated features that hit theaters are CGI, with different, more unique animation routes being utilized by foreign animated films and stop motion animation ordinarily being used by Tim Burton’s projects, Shaun the Sheep Movie is, if nothing else, a pleasant change of pace for this time of year.
However, there’s nothing particularly memorable about this outing whatsoever. Never seeing an episode of Shaun the Sheep, I admittedly cannot discuss how the film relates to the show, but this film is undoubtedly very slight. The humor is minimalist, to say the very least, there is very little dialog, which works very well because of the eye-popping visuals, and the events in the film are very scatterbrained and all over the place. Shaun the Sheep Movie is content with being a very simple picture, and if that’s what you’re looking for, then it satisfies; for people who want a more fulfilling moviegoing experience, it barely services.
NOTE: As of this writing, Shaun the Sheep Movie is available to stream on Pluto TV, free of charge, or on Amazon Prime Video with a subscription.
Directed by: Richard Starzak and Mark Burton.
Steve Pulaski has been reviewing movies since 2009 for a barrage of different outlets. He graduated North Central College in 2018 and currently works as an on-air radio personality. He also hosts a weekly movie podcast called "Sleepless with Steve," dedicated to film and the film industry, on his YouTube channel. In addition to writing, he's a die-hard Chicago Bears fan and has two cats, appropriately named Siskel and Ebert!