I’m a big fan of Aardman, though wasn’t a massive fan of their last film – released in 2018 – Early Man (though it did have its moments and the animation was unsurprisingly brilliant).
However, the 2015 Shaun the Sheep Movie was an absolute delight from its wonderful, hilarious opening montage to the very end; a movie told without any spoken words, featuring loads of clever visual gags and a sweet, endearing story, told using Aardman’s trademark, beautifully tactile stop motion method.
The sequel doesn’t quite reach the heights of brilliance that the first film managed, but that’s not to say that it’s bad – far from it. Farmageddon (once again told without any spoken words) sees an adorably colourful alien – sort of a cross between a puppy and Sully from Monsters Inc. – named Lu-La stranded on Mossy Bottom Farm. Shaun befriends Lu-La and attempts to help her get home, with MAD (Ministry of Alien Detection) agents hot on their tails. Meanwhile, the Farmer sees an opportunity to make serious cash by opening a UFO theme park on the farm.
It’s as wonderfully animated as you’d expect, though the story feels a little more meandering than in the first film. Lu-La is a lovely addition to Shaun’s usual cast though – and she has some brilliantly funny moments, with one highlight being a sugar-fuelled freak out in a supermarket. To add to this, her story is genuinely sweet. Head MAD Agent Red is given a backstory that stops her from being a one-note villain (and dials down the threat level too – this is a movie for the whole family, after all). It feels an awful lot more vividly colourful than the first film too, which is certainly no bad thing.
The inhabitants of Mossy Bottom Farm – the Farmer and his dog Bitzer included – all get their usual time to shine and it’s all as amusing as usual. If I have a complaint, it’s that the sci-fi movie references are terribly dated – with a number of references to 2001 (as well as other famous, though aging, movies and TV shows) that are likely to go over the heads of some parents by now, let alone the kids in the audience.
It’s hard to complain about such a sweet natured, well intentioned and cute film such as this though. Though few set pieces compare to those seen in the first film – the caravan chase, the restaurant scene, the staring dog in the animal ‘prison’ or the amnesiac Farmer discovering a knack for hairdressing in Shaun the Sheep: The Movie, just to list a few examples – it’s a fun, gentle watch that can be enjoyed by viewers of all ages. Like many Aardman films, it’s heavy on the Dad-joke style sight gags and puns – and feels unquestionably British; the cinematic equivalent of a snug cardigan on a cold night.
(Don’t forget to stick around for a brief post-credits sequence featuring the cameo of a famous British TV scientist – it’s very clever!)
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