No baa humbug from me by Richard Jones

A look at Shaun The Sheep (G)….

ShaunIT’S hard to believe that a stop-motion animated sheep named Shaun could have become a worldwide star. But that’s what Aardman Animations, also the brains behind Wallace and Gromit, have done with their woolly creation. Shaun and his pals are central to this barnyard comedy series which has no dialogue, just some sound effects. In this delightful romp the normal seven-minute episodes seen on ABC-TV morph into 85 minutes of screen time.

Shaun has decided to take the day off. But he his pals are forced to leave their farm when their owner, the myopic farmer, is still inside his caravan when Shaun uncouples it. The caravan careers away off its moorings, through an open farm gate and down a steep hill. The farmer receives a nasty bump on the head when the caravan crashes and ends up in The Big City hospital.

The farmer is now suffering from amnesia and can’t help the hospital staff so it’s up to Shaun and the rest of the flock to come to the rescue. They have to disguise themselves and no longer turn out in their woolly form. Trumper, the city council’s animal catcher, is on the job. In one sequence Bitzer, the no-nonsense farm sheepdog, also finds himself in the city hospital. He’s mistaken for a surgeon making this particular section of the movie right up there for daft and crazy manipulation.

Now I’m not a great fan of Bitzer – I find his interfering antics a tad off-putting – but I learnt many moons ago not to voice any criticism in view of a family three-year-old’s adoration of the busy sheepdog. The middle grandchild of one of our Melbourne-based families is very fond of Bitzer and also the chubby Mummy Sheep. Anyway back to the plot. Shaun is recognized by Trumper and tossed into animal gaol. The farmer meanwhile, blissfully unaware of the concerns of his flock, puts his rural skills to good use. He becomes a star of the hairdressing world by applying his sheep-shearing skills to the heads of erstwhile trendy city-dwellers. He dishes out fancy undercuts to urban hipsters.

This is ideal school holiday fare, but if I’m any judge entire families will love it as well.

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