Think of “Farmageddon” as a child’s introduction to science fiction cinema.
It’s a non-verbal giggle — a bit slow to be a romp — through decades of sci-fi on the big screen (and on the small) packaged in a preschool age-friendly “E.T.,” with our old pal Shaun the Sheep as our guide.
It’s about an alien flying saucer landing in English farm country, Mossington and Mossingham Forest, where Shaun and his fellow sheep share their sheared lives with Farmer John and his dog, Bitzer, who keeps the peace on the farm.
Kids will enjoy the usual Aardman stop-motion animation sight-gags as sniggering Shaun tries to outwit Bitzer, this time helping a blue alien with a puppy dog’s head, shapeless tentacles for arms and a body like a Christmas tree, “go home.”
The sight gags include glue accidents, alien-hunters in hazmat suits in the “alien hunter cafeteria” (one wears a chef’s hat…over his hazmat helmet), an electronic scoreboard of the “No Accidents In X Days” variety that displays “UFOs Captured – 0001” — zip line ingenuity, a dumpster chase, a farm combine that accidentally carves crop-circles in Farmer John’s barley and an alien with a taste for pizza with just two words in her vocabulary which any Mazda owner will recognize.
Grownups? We can turn this comical clay-animated contraption into a drinking game. Or not. Nobody could survive playing a game where you take a belt every time a science fiction movie or TV show is referenced in “Farmageddon.”
There’s a “Wall-E/Short Circuit” robot, Daleks, a “2001” HAL 3000 computer bank, and way too much of “E.T.” for this to wholly avoid charges of plagiarism. A “Life of Brian” visual cue here, a “Close Encounters” musical one there.
Those robot arms came off Robby the Robot from “Lost in Space.”
And could that be Doctor Who?
It takes a while to get up to speed, but once it does, “Farmageddon” delivers the jokes, visual puns and slapstick in a mad flurry. Any money Netflix spends making movies with Aardman is welcome, and well spent.
MPAA Rating: G, general audiences
Credits: Directed by Will Becher and Richard Phelan, script by Jon Brown and Mark Burton. An Aardman/Netflix release.
Running time: 1:26