G rated. I never know what to write here about the MPAA. Maybe it is because it is British? Like, Wallace and Gromit probably get a pass. But there's nothing really all that objectionable. There is a villain, which is par-for-the-course for a kids' movie. But none of the characters talk, so there's nothing objectionable said. Oh, there's a butt on camera. That's something. But it is made of clay. G.
DIRECTORS: William Becher and Richard Phelan
Do you know what my life is like? I create this big masterplan to write about every movie I see. I mentally make a plan to make it about a movie a day. I eventually come up with a schedule that is an attempt to prevent burnout. Then the Academy Awards show up, so I get revitalized and ignore my scheduled vacation. I power through some movies that AREN'T Academy Award nominees.
And then my first intentionally-written Oscar blog is a Shaun the Sheep movie?
I love me some Shaun the Sheep. I do. These are movies that are genuinely wholesome. My kids tend not to freak out at them. My three-year-old, Penny, absolutely was riveted by this film. But in terms of heavy themes? There really isn't that much. Since I don't really expound on the craft as much as I look at the greater meaning, I have to really start digging beyond things that would be considered acceptable. I mean, that's what I tell my students to do with every writing assignment. Find an argument that is actually challenging and defend it. But my brain gets tired and sometimes I just want to talk about the themes that really scream to be discussed. Instead, I'm going to be talking about how this movie is just a more fun E.T.
The movie has to know that it is doing E.T., right? My kid screamed that there was an overt E.T. reference. It's just that there seemed to be more Doctor Who references than there were actual E.T. references. In terms of great storytelling, the movie feels insanely safe. Because we all know the beats of the Spielberg modern classic, the movie ultimately becomes a vehicle for jokes. And that's completely fine. The filmmakers are good jokesters and aren't stepping out of their comfort zones. While I tend to lambaste creators for having this attitude, I have to keep in mind the target audience for this movie. This is a G-Rated film. It's intended audience is young kids. There's no need to really complicate matters with an overly involved plot or deep themes. It comes down distilling it, this is another celebration of claymation. The people who make these movies get what tone is. The tone comes across as effortless, so this feels like a passion project to bring these stop motion characters to life. Who ultimately cares if there isn't an original story? Sheep brings baby alien back to his parents? Cool. Let's work with that.
But there is one thing I really want to explore. I don't think it will be the deep dive I want it to be, but I do appreciate that there was thought put into the antagonist. One of the things that movies like E.T. always tend to do is to make this shadowy government agency (which in my head is NASA, which is an odd flex) completely unsympathetic. Farmageddon (which isn't the best name for this movie) starts to do that, especially considering that no one is really allowed to talk. But then, we are given this leader who has an altruistic reason for being the bad guy. S She becomes sympathetic. She sees aliens as a kid and wants to prove that she wasn't making them up. There is a nobility to her pursuit. I'm only kicking out the foundation from under my feet by quoting The Dark Knight, but this unnamed antagonist lives the Harvey Dent quote about living to see herself become the villain. Without actually having dialogue, we get this picture of a passionate advocate for the existence of a greater truth than is visible on the surface. Her malignance is unintentional. She is wholly unaware of her own malice and that's what makes her kind of compelling. She's Mulder if things got out of hand. She became the very thing she fought and that's fascinating.
But again, this is a kids' movie about a rascally sheep who befriends the most adorable alien child ever. It's about the jokes. The jokes land pretty much every time. I guffawed a lot. My kids were embarrassed about me laughing so hard, but they liked it too. It's a really cute movie that might actually take a hit from me overthinking it.
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Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.