Aardman continues its tradition of delightfully funny films about remarkably clever animals with “Shaun the Sheep.” Shaun is the most resourceful of the sheep belonging to The Farmer, who runs his farm with the help of his dog, Bitzer. The daily routine begins to wear on Shaun and he devises a plan to have a day off. It’s easy enough to put The Farmer to sleep: All the sheep need to do is jump over a gate again and again and he’s out like a light since he’s “counting sheep.”
And then everything goes wrong: The Farmer ends up in The Big City and the sheep, led by Shaun, realize they have to get him back. With vicious Animal Containment Officer A. Trumper on the warpath (an over-the-top, animal-hating villain to rival Victor Quartermaine from “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” and Mrs. Tweedy in “Chicken Run), they’ve got to disguise the fact that they are sheep as they search for The Farmer. Along the way, they bond with a lonely mutt, Slip, who proves surprisingly helpful.
To say more about the twists and turns would rob audiences of the pleasure of laughing at each new development. I can’t recall the last time I laughed so much in a movie. There are nods to previous Aardman films, Monty Python, Jacques Tati and “Silence of the Lambs” that kids might miss, but will add an extra smile for movie buffs.
Unlike previous films, there’s no actual dialogue (even by humans), just animalistic groans and grunts that convey everything perfectly. In a world focused on animals, no one need speak at all.
And stay for the closing credits as Aardman always entertains until the very last minute.
Rated PG for some rude humor. “Shaun the Sheep” opens on August 5.
Animal Deaths: NONE!