Tuesday, August 11, 2015

'Shaun the Sheep' Is Yet Another Stop-Motion Animation Gem

“If it’s a stop-motion animated movie, then it must be good” is a presumption that have always held true to me through the years.  Yes, like traditional hand-drawn animation, stop-motion animation has a soft spot in my heart and appeals to my old-school sensibilities.  But it’s not only that.  I truly haven’t encountered a bad widely-released stop-motion animated feature before.  Of course, not all have the makings of a classic like The Nightmare Before Christmas or Coraline, but I found all of them to be fun, thoughtful, and very entertaining.  There’s the possibility that a bad stop-motion animated feature is out there, but I haven’t seen one yet.  You are welcome to point it out to me.

Shaun the Sheep – also known as Shaun the Sheep Movie – is, so far, the only stop-motion animated movie out this year (I also watched The Boxtrolls earlier this year, but that was a 2014 movie).  I haven’t seen the TV series of the same name that this movie is based on – a spin-off of another great stop-motion property, Wallace and Gromit – so I have no preconception, except for my usual presumption for the guaranteed good quality of stop-motion animated movies, before I watched this.  And I’m pleased to say that this movie further enforces that presumption.

Shaun the Sheep focuses on the titular Shaun who grows tired of the monotonous daily routines of being a sheep at Mossy Bottom Farm.  Conspiring with the other sheep, Shaun hatches a scheme that will give them a day off.  The plan goes smoothly, until a mishap sends the Farmer to the city and makes him lose his memory.  So Shaun, along with the other sheep of Mossy Bottom Farm and Bitzer the farmer’s dog, goes on a hilarious city adventure in search of the amnesiac Farmer.

As what was already stated earlier, Shaun the Sheep is a gem.  It is effortlessly pleasant, lovely, funny, and likable.  The animation is painstakingly detailed and beautiful.  Its kid-level slapstick humor is the kind that adults will also enjoy well.  The story lacks substance, but the dialogue-less narrative is brilliantly coherent and thorough in expressing both comedy and plot.

As of writing, Shaun the Sheep absurdly sits at 99% in Rotten Tomatoes, making it the best reviewed summer-season movie of 2015.  I personally don’t quite agree with the critics’ consensus – I think it’s overrated, considering that Inside Out, which, as implied by the general thought of the reviews it has received, is supposedly set to become the best animated film of the year (I haven’t seen it yet to know for sure), only has a 98% rating – but that’s still saying something about how good Shaun the Sheep is.  It’s a wonderful family-friendly animated movie, and (maybe until I finally get to see Inside Out) my most favorite animated movie of the year next to When Marnie Was There and Justice League: Gods and Monsters.

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