#33 SHAUN THE SHEEP
Written and directed by Mark Burton and Richard Starzak, 86 minutes long.
Life on Mossy Bottom Farm has become a drudge, the live-stock farmer - Farmer, once a young man with dreams and ambitions, but now just another work-zomibe going thru the motions alone and miserable with an obviously slowly failing farm is desperately scratching to make a living. Seriously, he's down to his last five sheep, three pigs and a bull. Surely it can't be long before the ballifs are banging on his door and he's eating both barrels of his shotgun? Life has clearly not dealt Farmer the cards he wanted and it's obvious he's sub-consciously crying out for something different, otherwise how else could Shaun's subsequent plan for a day off have worked so brilliantly?
Farmer isn't the only one crying out for something new. Wanting a day off from the drudgery of farm life too, super-intelligent, destined one day to be the Sunday roast, Shaun the sheep contrives a brilliant scheme to dupe Farmer into sleeping the day away in a rotting, cockroach infested caravan thus allowing Shaun and the other, not so bright, sheep to spend the day doing what they like, however their cunning plan goes horribly wrong and the poor farmer is almost killed in an horrifically judged stunt that sees Farmer left in a brain–damaged coma following a high-speed car chase and sickening car crash in the middle of Big Town that sees him suffer an appalling and graphic head injury. When Farmer's dog and the sheep's prison warder, Bitzer races off to try and save his master, the lunatics take over the asylum.
The moral of this story should be 'Be Careful What you Wish For.', because back on the farm, without Farmer to provide and protect, life quickly becomes desperate, the sheep begin to starve, the pigs run riot destroying the farmer's house and the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy infected bull breaks free from his quarantine zone rampaging around the farm, attacking anyone stupid enough to get too close.
When Bitzer fails to return as well, and with the threat of starvation growing, Shaun hatches a second desperate plan to restore order and heads off into town. What follows is a terrifying Heart of Darkness, Apocalypse Now crossed with Midnight Express journey into the dark underbelly of humanity as Shaun and then the rest of the sheep try to live and survive in this strange new world.
Waking up from a three-day coma with amnesia, Farmer stumbles out of the grossly under-funded NHS-run hospital in just his pajamas and is found living rough on the streets by a kindly hair-dresser who gives him a home and a job. He discovers he has a true talent for hair dressing and begins to get better, with no memory of his past life, he re-invents himself, calling himself Mr. X and starts to enjoy his life, free at last from the chains of the pathologically needy sheep.
Meanwhile, both Shaun and Bitzer are captured by the unnamed hero of the film, an animal catcher who locks up the animals in a maximum security facility. forcing the other, now insanely desperate sheep to stage a savage and brutal jail break that sees the animals rescue their comrades and torture their jailer with an electric cattle prod, leaving him badly burned and severely traumatized.
The rest of the film, sees the sheep track down Farmer, kidnapping him from his new life and forcing him reclaim his memory with a series of sickening and brutal deprogramming exercises, while the animal catcher races against time to track the, clearly BSE infected, animals back to their farm lair before they can infect Farmer...
Phew, how they managed to cram so much plot into this word-free 82 minutes brisk animated delight is a credit to this film's dynamic duo writing/directing partnership of Mark Burton and Richard Starzak. While not as funny and brilliantly inventive as Curse of the Were Rabbit, Shaun the Sheep is nevertheless a genuinely sweet and funny film with some utterly inspired sight gags and some wonderful animation, there's so much going on and the film is so packed with details that you keep finding yourself laughing at something off to one side, like the portrait of the Giles granny in Farmer's house. Best bit must be the pantomime horse the Sheep construct that's seen in the trailer.
Kids will love this and parents will laugh at the hundreds of gags put in just for them, nothing quite beats good old British, Plasticine, stop motion animation. It makes such a wonderful change from the CGI sausage factory of Hollywood.