It’s easy to overlook, when viewing Rotten Tomatoes scores, that the percentage rating is based on the number of critics (or audience members) who gave a “fresh” rating. It’s possible, then, at least theoretically, for a movie to have a 100% rating but be rated, say, as a 7/10. I don’t know if that happens, but it does produce some oddities. They’ve proclaimed Shaun The Sheep the best reviewed movie of the summer with a 99% rating, but it’s aggregate rating is 8.2/10, which means in their “top movies” list, it appears below Fury Road, Inside Out and Selma.
The thing about Shaun The Sheep, though, is that it’s utterly unobjectionable. Much like the more popular (but still underrated) Paddington, here is a cute, fun family movie that you’d have to have a heart of stone to grump at. So maybe it doesn’t redefine your concept of what going to the movies means, but it’s a very good time indeed.
This is the story of a man and his dog and his sheep who start out in life full of enthusiasm (for sheep-related activities like growing and shearing wool, apparently) but over time get worn down by the routine grind of it all. And so, as our movie opens, the sheep decide they’d like a day off. A miscalculation leads to their benign holiday turning into an adventure, as the man (who doesn’t have a name, but is just known as The Farmer, for this is a sheep’s-eye movie) ends up in the big city with no clue who he is and a surprising new fancy, hip career.
This is a silent picture. Not that there aren’t plenty of sound effects but there is no dialogue as such, only utterances akin to Simglish or Peanuts Grownup Language. More than that, though, this takes the silent movie’s approach to plot, to characterization, to action and reminds us that, behind all the words, our experiences tend to be universal and very basic and simple after all.
It’s one of those movies that, despite it of necessity having to have a happy ending, you are concerned for the fates of its characters, both in terms of their physical safety and their emotional conflicts.
The Boy, upon seeing this, noted that he was not a fan of slapstick, but that, nonetheless, he really enjoyed this. (We had to take special steps to see it, so poorly was it distributed and received in America.) I tend to be like-minded, in the sense that I do not care for the sort of slapstick that is—well, you might call it torture porn, heh. That is, where the characters are made to suffer physical pain which the audience is encouraged and expected to enjoy.
Of course, The Barbarienne loved it, and I’m sure The Flower would have as well, but she’s been so busy sewing these days that she opted to stay home and finish a project she was on rather than come with us.
As always, with Aardman pictures, I want to grab Americans, shake them and ask what is wrong with them: the movie registered a paltry $20M at the box office, placing it below Minions, Home, the latest Spongebob, Hotel Transylvania 2, Pixels—honestly, people, if you keep encouraging Adam Sandler, he’s just going to keep going no matter how disappointed you are in his flicks—all of which have mediocre-to-bad reception from audiences and critics alike.
Maybe they need to break down and have Bradley Cooper baa-ing for them next time. I don’t know. I do know that you’ll like this movie if you see it, though.