Movie News & Reviews

DVD Picks: ‘Shaun the Sheep’ tops list of Nov. 24 releases

‘Shaun the Sheep Movie’

(PG, 85 minutes, Lionsgate): Animated family film from Aardman Studios, the producers of “Chicken Run” and “Wallace & Gromit.” Shaun decides that he and his fellow sheep deserve a day off; complications and adventure ensue. Do not expect anyone here to utter a complete sentence. To a man (and barnyard animal), every character in this stop-motion charmer communicates mostly through a combination of gestures and incoherent mumblings, only occasionally busting out a “baaa” or a “hey” for emphasis. Since this is a feature instead of a short, the narrative of “Shaun the Sheep” is more intricate than those in the television series, but not by much, and the jokes fly faster than the eye can read them. The prevailing tone throughout is one of warmhearted absurdity. Though “Shaun the Sheep Movie” was not shot in 3-D, it often looks more multidimensional than many of the animated films released in that format. There’s so much to absorb with the eyes that it only makes sense for co-directors Richard Starzak and Mark Burton to stick with what works so well on the small screen. Who needs words when every frame is worth a thousand of them? Contains what the MPAA calls “rude humor,” (i.e., jokes about burping and flatulence that will crack up your kids). Extras: “Making the Shaun Movie” featurette, “Meet the Characters” featurette, “Join Shaun Behind the Scenes” featurette, “Meet the Crew” featurette, parody poster gallery.

‘American Ultra’

(R, 96 minutes, Lionsgate): Action-comedy about a stoner (Jesse Eisenberg) who unwittingly has been trained by the CIA to be a sleeper agent. Kristen Stewart plays his girlfriend. It has a clever premise. But it misses several opportunities to at least comment on, if not skewer, the spy movies that it only halfheartedly pokes fun at. As it is, it’s content to generate a low-grade buzz, rather than deliver a true high. Contains violence, obscenity, drug use and mild sensuality. Extras: “Activating American Ultra” documentary, “Assassinating on a Budget” featurette, gag reel, commentary with director Nima Nourizadeh.

‘Ricki and the Flash’

(PG-13, 101 minutes, Sony): Jonathan Demme-directed tale starring Meryl Streep as an aging rock star trying to reconnect with her estranged daughter (Streep’s actress daughter, Mamie Gummer). Ricki’s band includes real-life rockers Rick Springfield, Joe Vitale and Bernie Worrell. Streep channels Bonnie Raitt with just a smidge of Lucinda Williams, singing and playing guitar while fronting a scruffy Boomer-era cover band in a no-name bar in the San Fernando Valley. “Ricki and the Flash” so carefully cultivates its air of gritty authenticity that it comes as a shock when it rings so gratingly false. Contains mature thematic material, brief drug content, sexuality and obscenity. Extras: “Getting Ready for Ricki: The Making of Ricki and the Flash.” Blu-ray: Deleted scenes, “Rediscovering Rick Springfield” featurette, cast photo gallery.

Also out Nov. 24

  • “The Badger Game”
  • “Chasing a Star”
  • “A Christmas Horror Story”
  • “Don’t Look Back”
  • “Guidance”
  • “Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow”
  • “The Last House”
  • “The Square”
  • “White Panther”
  • “Inside Amy Schumer: Season 3”
  • “Shaun the Sheep Season 1”