Shaun the Sheep
Release Date: Daily, 5:55 PM
Aardman Animation’s Wallace and Grommit films are some of the wittiest and wholesome children’s programming available, but 500 times in the DVD player can make any classic look tired. So it with great delight that my family discovered the spin-off series Shaun the Sheep. Shaun is the sheep Wallace and Grommit rescued from a murderous mechanical dog in A Close Shave. Now living happily on an English farm, his antics easily set our boys laughing without resorting to arm-pit humour. Another factor that sets the series apart from many forms of children’s entertainment is its rejection of the conflict model. Too many programs generate their story lines by pitting characters against one another. By contrast the trials that afflict Shaun arise from day to day issues like farmhouse chores and surprising storms. Because the sheep aren’t ‘at war’ with the farmer, there’s no need to try and make lying, stealing or other sorts of mischievous behaviour look justified. On the whole Shaun the Sheep represents excellent animation without the moral complications of many shows.
Men who stare at goats
Release Date: March 4
A big name cast (George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey) comically explores the US government’s real attempts to harness paranormal abilities to combat its enemies. The film is based on a true story chronicled by author Jon Ronson. Over the past five decades America’s military industrial complex has persisted in attempts to produce the superhuman soldier, involving experiments on everything from psychotic drugs to Eastern meditation. Clooney plays Lyn Cassady, a self-described ‘Jedi warrior’ who attempts to show a reporter the powers he has developed, with hilarious results. Is it possible to improve on the Creator’s design? Scientists think so. However this film discovers that accessing power means being plugged into something greater than yourself. The viewer is left to decide what that ‘something’ is. Sure to be a big comedy hit, carrying with it a thoughtful conclusion.