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Wallace & Gromit
DVD disk
Oct 8, 2004 By: JoBlo
Wallace & Gromit order
Director:
Nick Park

Actors:
Wallace
Gromit
Penguin

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
This DVD includes three different “Wallace & Gromit” short films. The first is entitled “A Grand Day Out” and follows the eccentric British inventor Wallace and his faithful dog Gromit as they soar to the moon in quest of cheese. The second film is called “The Wrong Trousers” which places the two kooks in the middle of a jewel heist set up by a penguin, and the third is “A Close Shave” which involves the duo and a “sheepnapper”. Don’t ask. All three films last approximately 20-25 minutes each, and all of them have been nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Short, with “Wrong Trousers” and “A Close Shave” winning respectively in 1993 and 1995. “A Grand Day Out” was nominated in 1990. Nick Park is the man behind all of these films and the characters, and went on to create last year’s CHICKEN RUN full-feature.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Believe it or not, I had never seen any of the “Wallace & Gromit” short films before I checked into this DVD and I went in with reserved expectations. Well, these little buggers grew on me with each episode, and it didn’t take me long to appreciate their clever humor, cute relationship and catchy musical scores. In fact, being as all three flicks only last for about an hour (in total), I watched them again just a few days later. The cool thing is that you can actually catch many new things the second time around, especially some of the in-jokes between the films (note the stories featured in the newspapers that they read). You should also be on the lookout for nods to JURASSIC PARK and TERMINATOR.

A GRAND DAY OUT: A good introduction to the two characters, but definitely the least interesting or lively of the three flicks. This was the first movie of the bunch and it’s pretty obvious that they were concentrating more on the actual mechanics of the clay-animation, rather than the actual story, which gets a little boring in the second half (it’s still remarkably well-produced, mind you). I wouldn’t recommend that you watch this one first, since it will likely not bowl you over as much as the other two, but it’s still worth seeing, just to get to know the characters better, and to see where it all started. Gotta love them cheese and crackers!

THE WRONG TROUSERS: This one was probably my favorite in respect to characterization, as it featured a very creepy, very cool, very sinister Penguin character who just cracked me up. He and Gromit don’t say a word during the entire show, but they are at major odds for Wallace’s affection, and the Penguin is out for even more than that. A very fun story with an amazing train chase sequence to top it all off. See the Penguin and be scared… ;)

A CLOSE SHAVE: Easily the most ambitious of the three short films, this one’s got a little bit of everything. Humor, romance, plenty of action, some thrills, chills, clever jokes (“You’ll be hunted down like a…well, dog!” (says he to his dog) and one of the cutest sheep that you’ll ever see in a movie. The last 10 minutes is a thrill ride from top to bottom, and it also lets you in on where Mr. Park came up with the original idea for the chicken pie machine in CHICKEN RUN. Definitely the funnest movie of them all.
THE EXTRAS
SCRAPBOOK contains three sections: “Clips” of “Wallace & Gromit” created for the BBC (seven TV clips created for the Christmas season running several seconds each), a “Photo Gallery” with still pictures from each movie and “Blueprints of Inventions” which features, well…blue-prints of all the inventions from the movies (not too exciting).

AT HOME WITH AARDMAN features three sections as well. “The Amazing World of Wallace & Gromit”, a 15-minute history lesson about the background of the famous duo, including their “screen tests” (cute) and a look at the popularity of the twosome around the world (damn, I didn’t know that they were THAT popular!). It's an excellent feature. “Biographies” gives you some background on all of the people at Aardman (in text form) and “History of Aardman”, well, gives you the history of the animation studio (in text form).

STORYBOARDS shows you a separate storyboard scene from A CLOSE SHAVE and THE WRONG TROUSERS respectively (about a minute or so each) and is actually quite interesting, as they show the drawn pictures and the actual scenes at the same time. It’s absolutely amazing to see how similar they are to the final product. Very cool! (incidentally, the storyboards are drawn by Nick Park himself)

BEHIND THE SCENES features three more sections including A CLOSE SHAVE, an 8-minute “making of” feature for that film, INSIDE THE WRONG TROUSERS, which also runs for about 8 minutes, and another section which covers some of Nick Park’s earlier work (including longer looks at the characters’ screen tests). These spots are always interesting to check out, because they really do give you some remarkable insight into the painstakingly meticulous tasks required to put these films together (A GRAND DAY OUT apparently took six years to create but only runs for about 20 minutes).

The DVD also includes a trailer for ROBBIE THE REINDEER which honestly just looks really creepy. Aren’t these characters supposed to be cute? Yikes! The menus are also animated, very colorful and feature the catchy theme in the background.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Well, I gotta hand it to these Brits…they got me! I went into this DVD with few expectations and knowing very little about these two characters, but came out with a great appreciation for their films, a renowned respect for the folks at Aardman and Nick Park (the man behind all of the genius) and a solid recommendation for this DVD, which is literally packed with anything that you’d want in a DVD. If you’re a fan, you’ve already bought this thing, but if you don’t know much about this duo, this DVD is the ultimate place to start.
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