Simplicity is the key to the latest success from Aardman

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Sometimes the simplest movies are the best. Aardman’s latest big screen venture, Shaun The Sheep Movie, goes back to basics with character and comedy.

It is, in essence, a silent film that revels in Buster Keaton style slapstick and cumulative disasters.

In short, Shaun’s farmer ends up a lost amnesiac in the big city. While his dog is mistaken for a surgeon, Shaun and pals disguise themselves as women in a flawed rescue mission.

The premise is entirely bonkers, but there are plenty of familiar scenarios to anchor the film.

Turning a TV show for pre-schoolers into a feature film with universal appeal isn’t easy, but it helps when your leading star began life in a Wallace And Gromit short. Here Aardman succeeds in fusing both of Shaun’s popular personas, packing the sub-text with messages about social media and the fickle cult of celebrity while sparing time for in-jokes.

Shaun The Sheep Movie is the polar opposite of Aardman’s vast, off the wall, historical mash-up, The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists. The limited vocal range of the film’s characters forces Aardman to be genuinely inventive and return to what they do best; communicating emotion and comedy through facial expressions. Here they continue to push the boundaries of Plasticine stop-motion.

It’s some of Aardman’s most subtle work to date and their most charming since Chicken Run.

4/5