In the 30 years – 30 years! – since A Grand Day Out, Wallace and Gromit’s first adventure, Aardman Animations has produced some of the most beloved stop-motion movies, including Chicken Run (2000), Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) and Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015), the latter based on their hit CBBC series about a mischievous young sheep and his farmyard pals – though ‘Shaun’ himself first appeared in the Wallace and Gromit short A Close Shave, in 1995. Now, Shaun is back in A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, and it really is out of this world.
It begins with Shaun and his pals driving Bitzer, Mossy Bottom Farm’s faithful sheepdog, to distraction with their mischievous shenanigans. Little do they know that deep in Mossingham Forest, an alien spacecraft is about to land, bringing with it a little blue alien, Lu-La, who will turn the town upside down. As reports of a UFO sighting bringing tourists flocking, the farmer whips up a ramshackle ‘theme park’ called ‘Farmageddon’, while a sinister governmental agency, the Ministry of Alien Detection (M.A.D.) sets out to investigate, and hopefully capture its very first alien. As for Lu-La, she/he/it just wants to get back to his/her/its home planet – not unlike a certain other extraterrestrial – which is referenced here along with numerous other sci-fi staples, from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Doctor Who. Of course, the whole thing is really an excuse to deliver some astonishingly kinetic stop-motion animation sequences, and some high quality sight gags, made all the more effective as the whole undertaking is carried out with barely the utterance of a single identifiable word. (“Earth” and “no” could be said to be exceptions, and there are lyrics in the two or three pop songs which back the montages.)
If Farmageddon starts to flag a little at the half-way mark, it’s probably due to the relentless pace the filmmakers set themselves, and because the plot point that kicks off the frenetic final act comes a little too late in the proceedings. But when all the track is laid down, Farmageddon gathers steam and doesn’t let up until the end, with a few adorable surprises along the way.
Is A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon a Good Movie for Kids?
Shaun certainly gets up to some mischief, but of course his naughtiness makes him all the more appealing to children. But what really makes Farmageddon so engaging beyond the sight gags and daft puns (there’s plenty of amusement for the grown-ups too, and I’m not ashamed to admit I laughed harder than my 7-year-old) is the friendship between Shaun and Lu-La, and especially Shaun’s determination to help his alien friend get home. So while there’s plenty of silliness along the way, at its heart is a wonderful story of friendship.