Soundtrack Review: Shaun the Sheep Movie

Wallace and Gromit is an international phenomenon that has been around for well over three decades now. During that time, the British claymation franchise has had a number of spinoffs. One such spinoff is Shaun the Sheep, a charming television series that centers on Shaun, a sheep who gets into random adventures on the Mossy Bottom Farm, a a large patch of land in the northern part of England. He then spends each episode avoiding detection from The Farmer. A feature film was inevitable and this summer sees the release of Shaun the Sheep Movie, a farm-grown picture of epic proportions. The film’s soundtrack is equally epic, featuring a robust score from Ilan Eshkeri (Kick-AssLayer Cake).

Shaun the Sheep Movie is a sweet claymation adventure that places a large emphasis on family, friendship, and togetherness. Bored with life on the farm, Shaun plans a day off but accidentally sends The Farmer into the city in a runaway trailer. The Farmer arrives in the city but  suffers an injury, giving him amnesia. Shaun then ventures into the city to find him but trouble meets him at every turn. During his mission to retrieve The Farmer, Shaun realizes that he loves the farm and everything that comes with it, including The Farmer.

Ilan Eshkeri approached Shaun the Sheep Movie much like John Powell and Harry Gregson-Williams approached 2000’s Chicken Run, a very similar film hatched from the same creators, Aardman Animations. The score is zany, fun, tender, and at times, heroic. Eshkeri knows what he’s doing and his work on this album is strong proof of that. Things kick off with the funky 60s-feel in Tim Wheeler’s “Feels Like Summer”. There is more funkiness and unique instrumentation  (including the appearance of an accordion) in “Humdrum Day”. There is more of the same in the next few tracks until we get a brisk and exciting action cue in “Runaway Caravan” (very John Powell).

Tracks 7-9 consist of Southern style, whistling, and sneaky filler score. We get guitar-heavy and ominous filler, similar to Danny Elfman in “Thumper”. The tone changes randomly in tracks 12-14 from Looney Tunes-esque to Western to cute and charming. There is film noir-eque filler up until track 17 “Feels Like Summer” performed by Baa Baa Shop Quintet, a fun little a cappella ditty. This then bleeds into “Building the Horse”, another whistling cue/march which echoes The Bridge Over the River Kwai. “Go to Sleep Counting Sheep” is a string-heavy lullaby which ends triumphantly and then we have an exciting chase cue in “Panto Horse Chase”. The next two tracks are also action-packed and fine examples of Eshkeri’s talent as a film scorer.

“Goodbye Slip” is a tender cue complete with piano and strings, a sweet way to cool down the film. “Life’s a Treat – Shaun the Sheep Theme” (Rizzle Kicks Mix) is a strange way to end a rather strong soundtrack. Ilan Eshkeri is a gifted film composer and I hope to see his name on many movie posters in the near future. He seems to be following in the footsteps of John Powell and Hans Zimmer and these are some very big footsteps to follow in.

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