Sunday, March 29, 2020
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
Directed by Will Becher, Richard Phelan
Written by John Brown, story by Mark Burton and Nick Park
Given the current situation, I’m always looking for light, funny fare to fill the days. I’ve also written several times about various films from Aardman Animations. So I was delighted to find an Aardman film that I had overlooked: A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon.
This is the third time Shaun has appeared in films, starting out with the Wallace and Gromit classic, A Close Shave.* There also was the Shaun the Sheep Movie plus a series of TV cartoons. Shaun is a smart sheep,** who leads both the flock and also – in the background – everything on the farm. All of his appearances have no dialog. Characters speak in very expressive sounds, but no words. All is told by action, much like a silent film.
In the movie, a UFO lands near the village of Mossingham with a little rabbit-like alien in it. Shaun discovers him and helps him out, learning the alien has levitation powers with his long ears. After the alien, dubbed Lu-La, inadvertently creates crop circles, the Farmer decides to cash in by creating a theme park, Farmageddon, to raise money for a new harvester. Meanwhile, Shaun discovers Lu-La is only a child and wants to go back to his parents, while the Ministry of Alien Detection (M.A.D.) is hunting her down.
The movie is a delight a slapstick and visual humor, especially the final sequence where events at Farmageddon become far more alien than even the Farmer imagines.
Part of the fun are references to SF movies and TV shows. Doctor Who is there in many ways (of course, including a Dalek), and the alert viewer can see references to Close Encounters, the X-Files, Hitchhiker's Guide, 2001, Star Trek, and many others. But these are just icing on the cake: the film itself is wonderfully funny and the expressions of the sheep, the dog Bitzer, and the fantastically oblivious farmer would make it a great film even without those.
For animation fans, it’s a pleasant way to find something to laugh about.
**His name is a delightful pun. After the unnamed sheep has all his wool cut off, Wallace decides to call him Shaun.
**The most dangerous of all animals.