Aardman's latest stop-motion animated feature is a rarity: a film aimed at very young kids that will delight adults, too.
Its pleasures don't lie in Lego Movie-style in-jokes. This is a dialogue-free movie. The closest we get to spoken words are the rustic mutterings, belching and snoring of the Farmer, who loses his memory and ends up working as a hairdresser in the big, bad city. In its use of music, sound and elaborate visual gags, the film is reminiscent of antic Jacques Tati comedies such as Jour de Fête.
Even the most obvious jokes – characters falling asleep while counting sheep, the reference to The Silence of the Lambs, the constant knitting, shaving and shearing puns – don't make you groan.
Two set-pieces stand out: the incredibly complex set of events that take the farmer's caravan rolling into the city in the first place and a scene in which the sheep, who've come to rescue him, try to pass themselves off as humans and dine incognito in an upmarket restaurant.
There's an emotional undertow to the storytelling but the gentle irony and very British understatement ensure that the film never sinks into woolly mawkishness.
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