October 21, 2017

Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015)

I had a conversation not too long ago with a blogger friend of mine. She'd quit writing about movies because the pressure to watch and write about movies was detracting from her enjoyment of them. I, too, had felt the same way and while I hadn't completely given up my blog, I found myself continually putting off my next review. It sounds silly on the surface, since neither of us are paid to either watch or write about movies, but the internal pressure of keeping to a schedule is both real and exhausting.

As the weeks piled up, I started to miss my blog. I've done it every week for the past 5+ years and to just stop writing on it felt premature and sudden. But the longer I waited to dive back into it, the more wracked with anxiety I became. What would be the movie that would break this dry spell? It would have be fantastic! My review would have to make the long wait worth it!

As it turns out, I just needed to watch a damn movie. Any movie. And Shaun the Sheep happened to be it. I'd wanted to see it, though I certainly didn't imagine it to be a the great cinematic masterpiece that would signal my return to the blogging world after a 10 week absence.

And it wasn't. Shaun the Sheep is a very cute cartoon from Aardman Studios, the makers of Wallace & Gromit. It features the same cutesy stop motion animation of anthropomorphic animals and British sensibility. And like Wallace & Gromit, it's much better in short bursts.

I saw the full-length feature of Wallace & Gromit in the theater. And as much as I adore those characters, the movie was a bit of a let down. It's just a lot to stretch what is normally a 30-minute skit into a 90-minute movie. Shaun the Sheep Movie was better, but only by so much.

It's cute, to be sure. The jokes are understated and there are a lot of sly pop culture references that flew easily over the heads of my clueless children. But it does start to drag a bit after the halfway point. What was decent at 85 minutes could have been excellent at 60 minutes. But no one will pay to go watch a 60 minute movie in the theater and that's the problem. So fluff gets added to make it feel like it's worth your time and we end up getting another animated film that makes people take the genre less seriously. It's a lose-lose.

The movie is still worth watching, especially if you have small children. The fact that there is zero dialogue is, in my book, a huge bonus because you don't need to contend with accents, foreign humor, or even listening. There's no Mel Gibson (cough, cough, Chicken Run) and a more light-hearted plot than any of the Wallace & Gromit movies (which is both a pro and a con). It is definitely the most enjoyable full-length feature put out by Aardman so far and I hope it signals an upward trajectory for them in the future. I also hope they seriously consider a new Wallace & Gromit movie to make up for that Were-Rabbit shit instead of just making Shaun the Sheep 2.

Final word: I had an editor once tell me my work "made him smile, but not laugh out loud." This is like that.