By Jack Kyser
Starring Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Chris Morrell, Andy Nyman, David Holt, Kate Harbour, Amalia Vitale
Austin Family Critical Rating: **** of *****
Austin Family Family-Friendly Rating: ***** of *****
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon is a pure animated delight, and a truly entertaining reprieve from the troubled times outside our homes right now. Based on the television series Shaun the Sheep (and a sequel to 2015’s Shaun the Sheep Movie), this film is the creation of Aardman Animations, who brought us stop-motion classics like Chicken Run (2000), Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) and The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012).
The titular sheep lives in Mossy Bottom Farm, where his flock is overseen by Bitzer, a no-nonsense dog belonging to the unnamed Farmer. When the sheep attempt to order a pizza early in the film, Bitzer nearly thwarts their adventure – but, thankfully, Shaun rescues two of the three pizza pies. The only problem is, there’s no pizza inside. Instead, the sheep find the outer-space alien Lu-La, an E.T.-like creature who has escaped his mothership.
After Lu-La creates crop circles in the Farmer’s field (not unlike the ones created by aliens in Signs), Shaun and Lu-La find escape from Mossy Bottom in an attempt to find Lu-La’s mothership. The Ministry of Alien Detection is hot on their trail, eventually seizing the mothership with Shaun and Lu-La inside. Meanwhile, the Farmer decides to turn his newly crop-circled farm into an amusement park (he calls it Farmageddon, in an effort to capitalize on the recent UFO sightings in the area), completely oblivious to the fact that an actual alien created the circles.
A great deal of the film’s charm is its complete lack of dialogue – using purely visual storytelling (along with suggestive babbling from both the animal and human characters), Farmageddon plays almost like a classic silent film, albeit one with vibrant colors and hilariously inventive sound effects.
This is a sweet and loving movie in a time we need escapism and kindness more than ever. Every character is endearingly nervous and empathetic, and the film is jam-packed with clever set-pieces. At only 86 minutes, it also makes for a great double feature with the original Shaun the Sheep Movie.
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon is available to stream on Netflix. It is rated G, and I would truly recommend the film for all audiences.