UPDATES with video: Aardman, the great animation outfit responsible for such clever ‘toons as Chicken Run, The Pirates! and Wallace & Gromithave done it again with Shaun The Sheep Movie, the first starring feature for the infamous character who deadline-review-badge-pete-hammondappeared in Wallace & Gromit and had his own TV series. But nothing could prepare us for the ultimate delight and charm of this new film which is shear heaven, and hooves down the funniest animated movie of the year.  In fact, in terms of pure comic chops, it could just be the funniest movie of the year PERIOD when all is said and done. As I say in my video review (click the link above)  it is a hilarious, beautifully droll gem of a film that is pure genius – exactly what we have come to expect from Aardman. Not since Babe or the aforementioned Chicken Run have we seen such a barnyard charmer. This is a movie for absolutely everyone – at any age – who wants to laugh. The whole family will fall in love with the gang.

The style and humor of this piece, from writer/directors Mark Burton and Richard Starzak, is reminiscent of the films of Jacques Tati or even Chaplin. This is a mostly silent movie except for grunts and groans and mumbling dialogue. It is blissfully not in line with most animated features which hire big stars for voice performances. This one tells its story without ShauntheSheepthat kind of somewhat tiring crutch and milks the maximum amount of laughs that way. No easy task. The story has Shaun wanting to take off a day from the farm work, but all going very wrong very quickly. Thanks to the antics of the prison-style breakout of the herd of sheep, their human farmer boss winds up in an accident and gets amnesia. His loyal sheepdog, who is in charge of the sheep of course, joins with them in a trip to the big city where they try to track the farmer down. It seems he can’t remember a thing about his recent past life, but does happen into a beauty shop where the haircutting shears brings back sudden memories and he begins naturally shaping the clients hair as he might do to his sheep. Soon the new “shear” haircuts become all the rage and he is swept into a life of celebrity. Meanwhile, the sheep must disguise themselves as human beings in order to avoid being picked up by the evil animal control officer.

In addition to all its other many attributes, Shaun The Sheep also boasts the snappiest and brightest movie song of the year, “Feels Like Summer”, a Beach Boys-type ditty that deserves Oscar consideration, as does this completely winning motion picture.

Producers are Paul Kewley and Julie Lockhart, while Aardman’s four-time Oscar winner Nick Park and three-time nominee Peter Lord are among the Executive Producers. Lionsgate releases the film, a great gift before the kids have to go back to school.

Do you plan to see Shaun The Sheep? Let us know what you think.