Sunday, April 4, 2021

Movie with Abe: A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
Directed by Will Becher and Richard Phelan
Released February 14, 2020 (Netflix)

There are two common reactions to something that cannot initially be understood: fear and excitement. Those who worry that whatever new phenomenon has arrived or begun may upset the delicate balance of their lives may protest against its very existence and seek to root it out and destroy it. Others may express curiosity and be drawn to see or examine it up close, like the traffic that ensues after a car crash on the highway because so many have slowed down to get a look at what happened. When it comes to people or aliens showing up in an unfamiliar place and becoming the subject of both conversation and action, it’s a good bet that they’re just as eager to learn about their new neighbors and surroundings.

Shaun and his fellow sheep spend their time on the farm pushing boundaries and trying dangerous activities, only to be stopped each time by the watchful and serious dog Bitzer. They discover something much more new and exciting when an alien known as Lu-La comes to the farm. As Shaun and Lu-La bond and get into hijinks together, Farmer John sees an opportunity with the recent UFO sighting and plans to convert the farm into a theme park called Farmageddon. Agent Red of the Ministry of Alien Detection is in hot pursuit of this rogue alien, and sets her sights on Farmer John and his new UFO-centric operation.

This film is a follow-up to “Shaun the Sheep Movie,” a 2015 Oscar nominee for Best Animated Feature that I found unexpectedly entertaining, itself an offshoot of “Wallace and Gromit.” It requires absolutely no context for those who have completely forgotten the events of the original film, and manages to convey its characters and their relationships exceptionally well without a single line of discernable dialogue. The grunts and murmurs its human, alien, and animal characters do utter are more than sufficient to make clear that their interactions are simple and comprehensible from their body language and facial expressions.

The story here is one of persecution and acceptance, with Shaun’s inability to goof off without constant dampening oversight transformed into Lu-La being unable to merely exist without the threat of capture and extermination. Its G rating ensures that all audiences will be able to enjoy it, with adults picking up on layered themes and marveling along with children at the quality of the stop-motion animation. This film is charming and a pleasure to watch, and while there may not be another installment in the works yet, Shaun should definitely return for another round of memorable mischief.


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