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Ewe’ll have a grand time with “Shaun the Sheep Movie”
“SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE”
Blu-ray widescreen, DVD widescreen and HD Digital download, 2015, PG for rude humor
Best extra: The parody poster gallery
NO NEED to sugarcoat it. The extras tacked onto “Shaun” are L-A-M-E.
Correction: “Making the Shaun Movie,” a quickie studio tour semi-conducted by directors Mark Burton and Richard Starzak, is OK … barely.
Aardman Animations (“Wallace & Gromit,” “Chicken Run”) has never made a movie that isn’t super-cool, and it is neat seeing where and how this one took shape and learning who did what. But if you’re looking for insights and inspirations and such, the movie has more to say — which is saying something (figuratively) because there’s no dialogue. Referring to Shaun’s TV roots, producer Peter Lord drops a bombshell: “He started out as this character none of us knew very well and he’s grown to be this big, memorable character.”
The other features — “Meet the Characters,” “Join Shaun Behind the Scenes,” “Meet the Crew” — are over in a blink and recycle the same interviews. The best of the lot? The parody poster gallery, spotlighting, among others, “Mutton: Impossible” and “Ant-Lamb.” It’s creative and hip and, like the main attraction, is sure to score with kids and grown-ups.
Besides, lame-o extras are no big deal, because “Shaun” is G-R-E-A-T. Give it the nod as the year’s No. 1 animated flick.
Pop quiz: When did Shaun make his debut? (Answer at end, no fair peaking.)
Back to the movie. Shaun wants a break from the farm routine and decides to take a day off and have some fun. But when a laundry list of mishaps and miscues strand the Farmer in the big city, Shaun, the rest of the flock and Bitzer the dog, with an assist from a street-smart pooch named Slip, step up to bring him back home.
That’s it, and that’s plenty. “Shaun” has a timeless message about home and not taking those you love for granted that everyone should tuck under their pillows. Actions speak louder than words, right? It’s also a hoot-and-a-half. Every character is the real deal, the stop-motion animation is out-of-this-world, the colors tap every crayon in the box and the timing couldn’t be sharper.
And big kudos to the folks who put together the soundtrack. “Feels Like Summer,” a bouncy bit of pure pop by Tim Wheeler, frontman for the Northern Ireland combo Ash, sets the tone. But every time the story shifts, the music rises to the occasion. Primal Scream and M People, Eliza Doolittle and Foo Fighters, George Thorogood and the Destroyers and Kid Creole and the Coconuts — there’s never a false note.
There isn’t a false note in “Shaun the Sheep Movie,” either. Put it at the top of your list.
Answer to pop quiz: Shaun had a minor role in 1995’s Oscar-winning “A Close Shave.” He rescued Gromit from jail, demonstrating early that, when the chips are down, he’s the right sheep for the job.
— Craig Shapiro