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It's immediate from the first frames of Aardman Animations' delightful stop-motion film "Shaun the Sheep" that the audience is in for a treat.

What's also apparent is that the four-legged protagonists of the film and their beloved two-legged "Farmer" speak volumes about family without any words. That's right, there's no dialogue except for banter only slightly more audible than a Charlie Brown teacher.

The movie runs simply on sight gags and visual puns that even the youngest audience members are able to pick up on and laugh at out loud.

The title character, Shaun, who made his debut as a bit player in the Oscar-winning "Wallace & Gromit" short film "A Close Shave," is in a bit of rut.

The monotonous schedule at Mossy Bottom Farm, pulled off with military precision by The Farmer and his dutiful dog Bitzer, begins to get on Shaun's nerves. So, he devises a plan to take the "day off."

Through a series of unfortunate events, the farm animals are left without their Farmer and must trek to the Big City to bring him back home.

At times, the plot line is plodding, however, the cheeky humor and brilliant animation make up for the slow pacing. In the end, the animators pull off a charming homage to family.

For a film without words, the story speak volumes.

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SHAUN THE SHEEP

Directors: Mark Burton and Richard Starzak

Cast: Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Omid Djalili

Rated: PG (for rude humor)

Running time: 85 minutes

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