Aardman Animations‘ new feature-length film of Shaun the Sheep made its U.S. debut this past week at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. I had a chance to see the film a few days after its premiere at a festival screening in Salt Lake City and I’m happy to report that it’s a delight from start to finish. I can’t wait for everyone to see it.
The film tells the story of how Shaun, feeling burned out by the routine on the farm, decides that its time for a vacation. Inadvertently, his planning to distract the Farmer and Bitzer the sheepdog go awry and the Farmer ends up in the Big City with a case of amnesia. It’s up to the Shaun and the rest of his animal friends to get him home; however, in addition to many obstacles Shaun and his friends face, their biggest, maybe even most impossible obstacle, might be getting around Trumper, the Big City’s no-nonsense and omni-present animal warden.
The team at Aardman has created another one of their stop-motion wonderlands with beautifully created models and sets for the film. With impressive direction from Mark Burton and Richard Starzack, the stop-motion animation is terrific and of the highest quality–just what you’d expect from Aardman.
The real winner here is the story which is told through well-placed words on the screen and through the pantomime of the animated characters (none of the characters, including the Farmer, speak a word of English in the film). Consistently funny jokes and delightfully silly slapstick comedy abounds with kids and adults laughing constantly throughout the screening (myself included).
While no one from Aardman was at the screening in Salt Lake City (no surprises, given that the screening wasn’t in Park City and it was at the end of the festival), Peter Lord himself was in Park City for the premiere. Here’s what he had to say on Twitter:
It’s wonderful to see a high quality, full-length animated feature again from Aardman. It was definitely worth the wait.