Cracking fun that you just can’t Bleat (A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon review)

Aardman have been responsible for some of the funniest and most British films of recent years. There aren’t many production studios that can take a minor character from another franchise, make a spin-off TV series from it, and then two feature films from that, and STILL maintain originality and freshness. However, with ‘Farmageddon’, they have managed to still do justice to that little sheep from ‘A Close Shave’.

After a UFO crashes near Mossy Bottom Farm, Shaun must help an adorable alien get back home while trying to prevent the Ministry for Alien Detection (MAD) capture her. Meanwhile, The Farmer and Bitzer decide to build a theme park to cash-in on this UFO fever sweeping through the village. All this plot bares very little importance in the film, which is mainly a collection of hilarious scenes and gag-set ups.

The first thing to say is that this film is funnier than most actual comedies that have been released this year (for instance, Men in Black: International, a franchise this film leans heavily on, pales in comparison to this Claymation). The sheer number of gags in this movie is astounding, and that’s even more impressive when it’s made clear that this is a silent film.

Just like the show and first movie, nobody actually talks so most of the comedy relies on sight-gags and slapstick. Not only that, but most of the jokes will go over the heads of the kids this film is technically aimed at. A highlight is when the UFO drops a Bull into a China Shop and you just hear the yelp from the shop owner inside.

Pop-Culture references also form a large portion of the jokes. Obvious references to the ‘E.T moon shot’ and the ‘Close Encounters keyboard’ occur, but the references go far deeper than that. Other highlights include the dolly-zoom shot from Jaws and replicating the opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey with a slice of Toast popping out of a toaster.

The amount of work and love that goes into these handmade films is incredible to see. I always love the fact you can see finger-prints on the models, but it goes far deeper than that. The expression-work, motion and scale that is achieved with clay and model work is still unbelievable to me despite watching countless BTS videos from Aardman. Their mastery of the animated arts still makes them the absolute leaders, with only LAIKA coming close.

With big hearted story, hilariously high gag count and a totally manageable run-time (87 minutes) this is a must see for any age. It’s another absolute triumph from the parent company of Wallace and Gromit.

5 stars 5

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