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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Shaun the Sheep Movie is the full-length spin-off of Aardman Animation's same-named short-form TV series. There's no actual dialogue -- just animal noises, exaggerated gestures, and evocative music. It's appropriate for older preschoolers mature enough not to be bothered by brief scenes of mild peril (a cruel animal control officer is after the farm animals and uses a weapon-like device with a claw-like attachment that can discharge electricity). While no characters are seriously injured, there's one tense/frightening sequence when it seems the animals will plunge to their deaths. There's also some silly potty humor (fart, poop, pee jokes) and a photo of a nude man (all sensitive parts are covered by a chair), but overall this is a sweet little adventure that's fine for almost all ages, with positive messages about teamwork, friendship, and acknowledging and fixing your mistakes.
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What's the story?
In the SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE, a Farmer (voiced by John Sparkes) runs his Mossy Bottom Farm on a precise, predictable schedule with the help of his trusty sheepdog Bitzer (also Sparkes) and a bunch of sheep he's had since they were baby lambs. One of those sheep, Shaun (Justin Fletcher), is bored, so -- after spotting a bus billboard promoting "A Day Off" -- he plans an elaborate scheme to make the Farmer sleepy, put him in the farm trailer, and have a day off. But things take an unexpected turn when the trailer starts rolling away, and the Farmer ends up crashing and waking up in the Big City with major memory loss. Meanwhile, the sheep decide to head to the Big City, not for a break, but to help the Farmer. Unfortunately, a cruel animal control officer ends up chasing down Shaun and his pals.
Is it any good?
This is exactly the kind of adorable, entertaining, and expertly crafted stop-action film that families with young children should see together. Shaun the Sheep Movie will definitely make audiences laugh, regardless of their age. There's no dialogue, but that makes it even easier for little kids to follow, since they'll easily interpret the characters' body language, noises, and gestures that drive the story forward. There are jokes for the whole family, and the sheep are irresistible as they don disguises, band together, and work with Bitzer to find the Farmer and return to their beloved home.
The directors fill the movie with subtle homages to other titles, like Edward Scissorhands: In one scene, the amnesiac Farmer uses clippers at a fancy hair salon to shear clients. The look becomes all the rage, and the shorn style makes him momentarily the top stylist in the Big City. Plenty of barks, bleats, and mumbles accompany the goofy soundtrack to make this movie perfectly understandable despite the lack of language. Little ones and their parents will laugh throughout at Aardman's signature wit. At a brisk 85 minutes, this is a real winner for even the youngest of movie fans.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Shaun the Sheep Movie's lack of dialogue. How do the characters communicate? Is it easy for viewers of all ages to understand?
Why is Shaun motivated to do what he does? What mistakes does he make along the way? How does he redeem himself? Is he a role model?
If you've seen the Wallace and Gromit shorts/movies, discuss what this movie has in common with those movies, as well as the show on which it's based.
- In theaters: August 5, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: November 24, 2015
- Cast: Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Omid Djalili
- Directors: Mark Burton, Richard Starzak
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Horses and Farm Animals
- Character Strengths: Curiosity, Teamwork
- Run time: 85 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: rude humor
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Seal
- Last updated: December 12, 2019
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