VOD film review: Farmageddon: A Shaun the Sheep Movie
Ivan | On 21, Jun 2020
Directors: Will Becher, Richard Phelan
Cast: Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Amalia Vitale
There’s nothing in life as delightful as watching a tiny plasticine sheep scamper around a miniature farm one frame at a time. If that sentence sounds strange to you, you’ve never met Shaun the Sheep, Aardman’s ovine sidekick to Wallace and Gromit, who has leapt from the stop-motion duo’s short films to his own solo series and movie. Farmageddon, Shaun the Sheep’s second feature-length outing, is just as delightful as ever.
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is the touchstone for this adorable adventure, which sees Shaun’s (Justin Fletcher) agricultural existence on Mossy Bottom Farm interrupted by the crash-landing of a UFO. Inside is LU-LA (Amalia Vitale), an alien who soon shows off her magical powers – matched only by her taste for mischief and ability to burp very loudly. The result is a surprisingly deep tale of parenthood and belonging, as Shaun effectively finds himself having to look after this toddler-like force of chaotic nature.
There are sight gags and sci-fi references that will keep parents as pleased as the kids (a Close Encounters musical nod is just the start), and the inevitable government body trying to track down LU-LA recalls Theresa May and the Conservative Party’s hostile environment. But those touches aren’t necessary to appreciate the film, and may not even register, because it’s the universal simplicity of Shaun the Sheep’s approach that wins over all ages.
The script by Jon Brown is as witty as any fast-talking caper, even though the dialogue is mainly just “baas” and other nonsensical syllables, and the slapstick anarchy rivals Laurel and Hardy or Buster Keaton for sheer precision. The construction of a theme park by the Farmer (John Sparkes) is a hilarious touch, proving just as inventive as Wallace and Gromit’s Were-Rabbit when it comes to fusing the Aardman sensibility with genre flourishes.
Throughout, directors Will Becher and Richard Phelan have a flawless control of timing and tone, crafting a heartfelt tale of family and friendship that tugs on the heartstrings as sincerely as it tickles your funny bone.