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Movie Review

Shaun the Sheep Movie also known as “Shaun le mouton,” “Shaun: O Carneiro”

MPAA Rating: PGfor rude humor.

Reviewed by: Curtis McParland
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids Family
Genre:
Animation Family Adventure Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 25 min.
Year of Release:
2015
USA Release:
January 24, 2015 (festival)
August 5, 2015 (wide—2,200+ theaters)
DVD: November 24, 2015
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Relevant Issues
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sheep in the Bible

wool

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sheep and shepherds in the Bible

Kid Explorers™
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
Featuring: Justin Fletcher … Shaun / Timmy (voice)
John Sparkes … The Farmer / Bitzer (voice)
Omid Djalili … Trumper (voice)
Richard Webber … Shirley (voice)
Kate Harbour … Timmy's Mum / Meryl (voice)
Tim Hands … Slip (voice)
Andy Nyman … Nuts (voice)
more »
Director: Mark Burton
Richard Starzack
Producer: Aardman Animations
StudioCanal
Anton Capital Entertainment (ACE)
Distributor: Lionsgate
Relativity Media

Cats and dogs and sheep, oh my! In Aardman Entertainment’s latest stop-motion comedy, “Shaun the Sheep Movie,” our wooly friend Shaun and his pals are starting to grow tired of the same old routine day after day on the farm. However, all of their sheepish lives are about to be turned upside after Shaun declares that they take a day off from farm life. The farmer’s herding dog, Bitzer, is unaware of their plan, and the farmer himself, well, is completely oblivious.

After Shaun and his friends complete their mission by distracting Bitzer and placing the sleeping farmer in a trailer, things start to go downhill (literally) after the farmer goes missing! Saddened by what happened, the wooly friends band together with Bitzer and embark on a rescue mission to retrieve their now missing friend. However, they do not realize the danger they are facing outside. Beware of Trumper, the animal warden who chases Shaun and his friends throughout the city, as you prepare yourself for one of the summer’s most comedic films!

“Shaun the Sheep Movie” is a very clever, witty, and fun movie from the award-winning makers of “Chicken Run” and “Wallace and Gromit.” Aardman goes to new heights, though, as this film does not contain a single piece of dialog. The closest thing to dialog we get is a grunt, mumble, or growl. But this technique works flawlesslym, as the creators immerse viewers in Shaun’s world, filled with laughs nearly from beginning to end.

The humor is very clever, at times, and the animation is stunning. The music is very upbeat and adds much more fun to the story, as we witness the antics of these adventurous sheep. The editing is very well done, and directors Mark Burton and Richard Starzak did a fantastic job of engaging the audience in a wordless film. Kudos to the sound design, as well, since it adds so much more excitement to the surrounding action.

The film does start to drag at the end and sometimes feels a bit silly and vexatious in the humor department. All that being said, “Shaun the Sheep Movie” will be a treat for most audiences and one of the most fun-filled movies of the summer.

The film does contain some moderate moral concerns, including some toilet humor. One running gag in the film is when the farmer bends over and exposes part of his bare rear end. This is seen on three separate occasions. There is also a picture of the farmer briefly seen as he sits naked in a backwards-facing chair covering his private areas. Disguised, one of the sheep kisses the animal warden, and the farmer has a dream of having a soothing massage. He is covered with a towel, with only his back exposed.

Adding to some of the rude humor, a few sheep disguise themselves as a tall man in a coat, and two people believe they are witnessing a man urinating in a fountain. One of the sheep is just drinking the water, though, and is filmed at an angle. Another character is seen reading a newspaper while sitting on the toilet (not graphic). Some sheep belch with great pleasure, and a character breaks wind and scratches his rear.

Obviously, there is no objectionable language in this film, since nobody talks, but there is some mild slapstick action/violence and mischief. We see some sheep reluctantly receive a shave and a spider eat a fly. A trailer goes on the loose and crashes into a downtown area. A tractor also goes on the loose and chases characters. We see a cow fly through the air, a guy getting pecked by some birds, and another fly off of a bike. A character gets hit in the head with a ball, causing him to go unconscious and land in the hospital.

Sheep are chased by a bull and another character gets launched by it later in the film. A dog gets picked up by the animal warden, Trumper. Sad animals are later seen at a pound. A lobster clamps onto a man’s hand and later a woman’s rear. She assumes the man behind her was being fresh and gives him a good slap. An elderly woman gets shoved and another struggling character gets his head shaved while being held tightly by the stylist. Trumper carries a high voltage capturing device that may be frightening to some smaller children. He shocks a teddy bear and later accidentally shocks himself.

There are some high octane chases, all displayed for comedic effect. A character gets his head caught and twisted by the sheep after it gets stuck in the rear end of a horse costume/disguise. A shed is held over a cliff with characters inside. A character gets sucked under the wheels of a scythe carrying tractor (off-screen). We see him all beat up from the accident. The entire concept of the animal warden, Trumper, may be frightening to some younger children since he is a cruel man, out to kill the sheep.

There is no drug or alcohol content for the exception of seeing Shaun with what appears to be a margarita. The entire film is filled with mischievous behavior as the sheep plot, break into places, and sneak around. Pigs party and gorge, and there are plenty of crazy antics by characters. Although the violence may sound intense for a kids’ movie, it is actually very mild and slapstick cartoony. Nearly every moment is played for laughs, as characters fly though the air and get chased around.

There is some stealing and dishonest behavior, but there is also plenty to like, as friendship and loyalty are clearly displayed. Shaun and his friends are very dedicated to the farmer and never intended to cause any harm. All they simply wanted was a break—a day off. Assuming they wouldn’t be given one, they decided to take things into their own hands (or should I say hooves), but end up with disastrous results. The sheep and crew appear to be very family-like in nature, and the sheep and Bitzer will stop at nothing to find the missing farmer. Justice also prevails in this comedy, as Trumper gets outwitted by the sheep around nearly every corner. Hateful characters like him are not only good examples of animal cruelty, but abuse in general.

“The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel.” —Proverbs 12:10 (NLT)

But what does God’s Word say about the sanctity of human life, as well?

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)(ESV)

Life is a gift from God, and He blessed us with the gift of animals. Since we are made in God’s image, the gift of life is a blessing and should be cherished by all. God gave man dominion over the creatures He created. Should they be treated equally as human beings? Of course not. But we still need to cherish and be thankful for such a gift and take care of what He created.

“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” —Ephesians 5:4

“Shaun the Sheep Movie” contains some great themes that not only kids will enjoy, but parents will appreciate. The film does have its issues, though, as the filmmakers added some rude humor in attempting to create more comedy. Tasteless humor is not needed in any form of entertainment. But, sadly, most children’s films nowadays contain some form of crude humor. “Shaun the Sheep” is definitely much more family-friendly than this summer’s “Minions,” but parents are forewarned that the main content of concern is the toilet humor.

All in all, this is still an enjoyable, creative comedy from the creators at Aardman and is one of the safest options playing in the theater this year. I recommend “Shaun the Sheep” for ages 7 and up, due to the nature of its rude humor and mild sexual content. It may appear to be a harmless, 100% kid-friendly film, but the PG rating still should be taken seriously. The last thing you want is your child picking up crude jokes from an animated movie. “Shaun” may not be completely clean, but it is still a fun comedy about farm animals bonding together to save the ones they love.

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your Word.” —Psalm 119:9

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Loved Shaun the Sheep! I really enjoy the Ardmann/British sense of humour and laughed my way through the movie, even though hardly a word was spoken the entire film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Mandy, age 42 (South Africa)
Positive—The best achievement for Aardman in this movie is the fact that there is no dialogue. It shows how important a good soundtrack is, and this one is very good. One of my favorite scenes is when the sheep “baa” the main theme. You have to give the animators great credit for their meticulous stop motion photography.

I was a little disappointed with the toilet humor, but I suppose young kids may find it funny. I didn’t think it was nearly as good as “Chicken Run,” but it is good storytelling and worth the rental. There is a lesson to be learned when you get what you ask for. You often find that you don’t know how good you have it with the way things are.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Jeff Leslie, age 58 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—I found the film Shaun the Sheep very funny and a great family film. There is some rude humour, but, considering most family films these days, there isn’t actually that much. Maybe after watching it parents can talk about the rude bits to the children, so they can learn to discern why it’s wrong. The movie is very slightly slow paced at times, but I found that the absolutely flabbergasting stop motion animation had me asking myself “How did they do that?” all the time, so I wasn’t bored.

The lesson is quite good, as well; nothing Christian, but a good moral: The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. As one of the makers said in the extras, Shaun is like a rebellious twelve year old who kicks against the authority, but later realises that what he thought he wanted isn’t really what he wants.

I’d rate it four out of five for a good storyline with unexpected twists for all ages, mostly clean humour, very well filmed, great message and it’s even quite emotional in some places for those who like films that make you cry a bit!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—A (girl), age nearly 15 (United Kingdom)
Movie Critics

…an adorable, entertaining animated comedy… The characters see the value in having a shepherd and doing hard work. The sheep do everything they can to get back their shepherd, even putting themselves in harm’s way. They learn that, even though they want to do their own thing, their master’s will is better for them. …[4]
—Ted Baehr, Movieguide

…Shepherd your flock and go see Shaun the Sheep… the kind of gentle, eager-to-please winner that we don’t see much these days. …
—Christian Hamaker, Crosswalk

…Everything is sheepshape in this cleverly off-kilter big-screen debut for Aardman's lovable farmyard adventurer. …absolute delight in terms of set and character design…
—Guy Lodge, Variety

…The animation itself is pleasingly tactile and hand-posed, up to Aardman’s usual high standards. If anything, the expressivity of the human characters impresses more than the animals’, a reverse of the usual state of affairs in most animation. The backgrounds are richly detailed, peppered by the company's trademark shop-sign puns…
—Leslie Felperin, Variety

…it makes a strong case for why this particular medium should not be viewed as outdated. The personality of it is remarkable—no animation house can convey exasperation with the small shift of a unibrow quite like Aardman—and there is at no point any issue with conveying the story, which is complicated enough to include amnesia, the cruelty of society, evil animal controllers, the vapidity of celebrity and the complicated emotions of poodles. It is superb physical comedy. … [4/5]
—Empire magazine

…purely charming… a gloriously crackpot, silent comedy wonder… a runaway steam-train of moments, each one self-contained but coupled to the rest, and barrelling forwards on collective crackpot momentum. … [4/5]
—Robbie Collin, The Telegraph

…supremely surreal… raising the baa for delightful cinema animation… Three cheers, then, for the good folk at Aardman who have once again toiled long and hard to put delightfully childish smiles on all our faces. … [4/5]
—Mark Kermode, The Observer

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