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Posts Tagged ‘Chicken Run’
Kids’ movies come in all shapes and sizes. This year there’s been the introspection and action adventure of Inside Out, Minions mayhem and Paddington’s cuddly cuteness. For something completely different, there’s the Shaun the Sheep Movie, a stop-motion animated film with virtually no dialogue but lots of fun.
Shaun is a resourceful, if mischievous, sheep who lives with his flock at Mossy Bottom Farm. When he accidentally sets off a chain of events that sees his Farmer get amnesia and become a successful hairdresser in the big city, Shaun tries to bring him back home. Wallace and Gromit fans may recognize Shaun the Sheep from the 1995 short film A Close Shave or his self-titled television series.
Animation fans will also recognize the unmistakable style of Aardman, the British animation studio responsible for bringing the Plasticine inventor Wallace and his dog Gromit to vivid life one frame at a time. Time called their Claymation promo clip for Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer one of the greatest music videos ever and their first full length film, 2000’s Chicken Run, is the highest-grossing stop-motion film of all time.
The beauty of their work is that while it’s generally aimed at kids it tickles funny bones young and old. What’s the secret to their success?
“We don’t make animated films,” says founder Peter Lord. “We make films that happen to be animated.”
Here’s a look at my favourite Aardman films.
Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
The story takes place days before the annual Giant Vegetable Competition. Wallace and Gromit’s pest control company — Anti-Pesto — must do battle with a floppy-eared mutant rabbit who is nibbling on all the oversized vegetables.
The film is loaded with fanciful Rube Goldberg-like contraptions, visual gags, bad puns — the cheese-loving Wallace’s bookshelf features titles like East of Edam and Grated Expectations — and double-entendres for the parents in the audience. There is at least one pretty good in-joke in there for film geeks too — a snippet of Art Garfunkel’s song Bright Eyes, from the rabbit-themed cartoon Watership Down, is heard on a car stereo. Park also tips his hat to the British love of gardening, King Kong and the Hammer Horror movies.
Pirates! Band of Misfits
It’s not every kid’s flick that features Queen Victoria, the Elephant Man and Charles Darwin. Pirates! Band of Misfits, however, isn’t like most kids’ movies. It’s splendid side-splitting swashbuckling fun that mixes gentle family friendly humour, with some absurdist Monty Python style gags and Aardman’s usual whimsy. There is so much going on here you may want to see this more than once to catch all the sight gags and throwaway lines on offer.
For the first time ever, Aardman put their clay figures into storage and took a step into the 21st century, making a film that looks a great deal like one of their homemade stop-motion extravaganzas, but is actually computer animated. Flushed Away, the story of an upper class pet mouse flushed down the loo by a bullying rat, features great animation, an all-star British voice cast and something that all kids love — toilet humour.
It swirls along at quite a clip, effortlessly mixing literate verbal and visual jokes — we glimpse a cockroach reading Kafka’s Metamorphosis — with potty humour that’ll appeal to the kids.
Kids movies come in all shapes and sizes. This year there’s been the introspection and action adventure of “Inside Out,” “Minions” mayhem and “Paddington’s” cuddly cuteness. For something completely different there’s the “Shaun the Sheep Movie,” a stop-motion animated film with virtually no dialogue but lots of fun.
“Wallace and Gromit” fans may recognize Shaun the Sheep from the 1995 short film “A Close Shave” or his self-titled television series. He’s a resourceful, if mischievous sheep who lives with his flock at Mossy Bottom Farm. When he accidentally sets off a chain of events that sees his Farmer get amnesia and become a successful hairdresser in the big city, Shaun tries to bring him back home.
The simple story is embellished with marvellous stop motion animation and delirious set pieces. Shaun and his livestock clan disguise themselves as humans in an overcoat while Bitzer the dog passes as a surgeon—only to be distracted by the delicious looking bones of an operating room skeleton—all while trying to stay clear of animal control officer Trumper.
Those looking for subtext will find a deeper meaning in Shaun’s adventures in the big city as the flock leaves the country for the considerably more dangerous city, but the film primarily plays as a treat for your eyes not your brain.
With no dialogue to fall back on “Shaun the Sheep Movie” has sight gags galore. Aardman Animations, the studio behind this and “Chicken Run” and the Wallace and Gromit movies, know that the small details can lead to big laughs, so every frame is filled with lovingly crafted slapstick. It’s aimed at kids but should tickle funny bones young and old.