The brilliant animation wizards at Aardman strike again with A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, a thoroughly delightful and hilarious new feature outing with Shaun the Sheep and all his friends at Mossy Bottom Farm, this time in a comical, slapstick-style takeoff on just about every alien and Spielberg movie you have ever seen. In fact, directors Will Becher and Richard Phelan and writer Jon Brown (with story by Mark Burton and creator Nick Park, who started the whole thing) seem obsessed with movie references throughout, making note of everything from 2001, Alien, Signs and Close Encounters of the Third Kind to even Jaws and others. But especially E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, clearly a heavy influence on the plot, which revolves around a mysterious alien spaceship showing up around the farm, and the discovery later of a cute blue alien, kind of dog-like in appearance, named Lu-La, who is left behind and longs to return home to her planet and parents.
But first comes her close encounter with Shaun and friends as he befriends her and they share some wild adventures together, including a disastrous visit to a grocery story where the little alien wreaks havoc with her telekinetic abilities, and numerous other wildly out-of control moments of mischief everyone gets into. Of course this is what Shaun is always doing, but it is in uber-drive here as Farmer John seems oblivious and his dog Bitzer is doing everything he can to keep the flock and especially Shaun in control, to no avail really.
Things get dangerous when the Ministry of Alien Detection shows up, led by Agent Red, who has her own reasons for finding Lu-La and studying the creature. But this gang doesn’t make it easy for her (this is where the story really seems to resemble E.T.). But as with past editions, slapstick is the rule of the day, and a tip of the hat to silent movies the result — in addition to every sci-fi film on this planet, there is a real affection for the likes of Keaton, Lloyd and definitely Charlie Chaplin, who is given his own homage with a brief scene tributing his masterpiece Modern Times. Like I say, everything is thrown into this stew and most of it works, if occasionally going too far over the top and relying a little too often on pop tunes flooding the soundtrack.
The real charm, as in past films Aardman has turned out in this series, is the lack of coherent dialogue, which is swapped with amusing noises from the the various characters instead. It proves to be lots of fun, although as a follow-up to 2015’s The Shaun the Sheep Movie it isn’t quite as inventive or genuinely original, instead relying on undeniably funny but more predictable movie parodies. Still, this is all just as irresistible as it ever was. Mossy Bottom Farm is a great destination for families and Aardman enthusiasts, and of course fans of the ever-troublemaking Shaun the Sheep.
This film was released several months ago in the UK and landed a well-deserved BAFTA nomination for animated feature. On North American shores, however, it will be streaming on Netflix beginning Friday, making it even easier to see. And it is well worth a visit. The producer is Paul Kewley.
Check out my video review above with scenes from the film. Do you plan to see A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon? Let us know what you think.
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