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Lionsgate/Hit Entertainment presents
Shaun the Sheep: Off the Baa! (2007)

- Shaun the Sheep

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: January 23, 2009

Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (claymation slapstick)
Run Time: 00h:57m:00s
Release Date: November 11, 2008
UPC: 884487100459
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+C+B D

DVD Review

Even as computer generated animation continues to rule the box office and wow audiences with technical wonders, stop-motion, that old standby, has been experiencing a resurgence, thanks in no small part to the British clay-makers at Aardman Animation, who have been quietly winning awards and accolades in their home county for close to 20 years. Hugely popular in the U.K., company mascots and film stars Wallace and Gromit move mountains of merchandise. According to the BBC, one of top-selling characters is Shaun the Sheep, who had a bit role in the 1995 Oscar-winning short A Close Shave. The loveable barnyard animals pops up on T-shirts and lunchboxes, and in 2006, on TV in his own animated series.

Shaun the Sheep shares Wallace and Gromit's sense of humor and a love of slapstick. The show takes place on a rural farm (shades of Chicken Run) where, as per usual, the animals are up to quite a lot when the farmer isn't around. The eight-minute shorts mine humor from the mundane (a baby chick mistakes Shaun for his mum; the animals play a game of football) to the more bizarre (Shaun contends with a goat who won't stop eating the grass; the animals disguise themselves as humans and go out for pizza). Sans dialogue, all of the humor in Shaun is visual, and very inventive—a lot of mischief goes on in the barnyard.

The clay characters are enormously appealing, with quirky designs that provide more opportunities for humor (like Shirley, an overstuffed sheep whose ample wool coat can hide anything—including lunch) and the trademark Aardman bug eyes. Timmy, the adorable baby lamb, is cuter than a kitten in a sweater, especially when his eyes well up with tears (often when his neglectful mother—a sheep with curlers in her hair—loses track of him, which is often). The barnyard often must contend with the brutish pigs next door, who, it might surprise you to learn, are total slobs.

So, the series is good—and equally enjoyable for children and adults—the DVD could be better, collecting eight episodes at random from the series 40-show run, presented in fuzzy full screen rather than the original 1.78:1. Still, a second volume follows later this year.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: The picture quality is a mixed bag; apparently the show was originally broadcast in 1.78:1 and is available in widescreen oversees. This fullscreen presentation features bright colors but a few noticeable instances of digital combing that give it the feel of a VHS transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The audio handles the program's minimal requirements well enough; the music and animal noises are presented cleanly across the front channels.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 7 cues and remote access
2 TV Spots/Teasers
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Keep Case
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Aside from brief commercials for two Aardman-related videogames (based on Shaun the Sheep and Wallace & Gromit), there's a four-minute clip of adorable British children touring the animation studio and manhandling the claymation models.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

While not as sublime as Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep is just as likely to put a smile on your face. Unfortunately, his haphazard DVD offers the bare minimum.


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