Cast: Peter Sallis
Running time: 60 minutes
I sort of cottoned on to Wallace and Gromit in reverse chronological order. My first exposure to Nick Park’s lovable claymation creations was when I watched the first feature film made on the intrepid inventor Wallace and his silent but obviously intelligent dog Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, released in 2005.
This DVD though actually features two out of the first three shorts that Park created in the series, including his debut, titled A Grand Day Out (1992). It went on to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short, ultimately losing out to a film called Creature Comforts, which was created by … wait for it … Nick Park as well! (so the man’s obviously some sort of animation genius). Park’s following Wallace and Gromit shorts went on to win the Oscars for this category and this DVD features one of those winners in The Wrong Trousers.
Compared to the more sophisticated The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Park’s debut A Grand Day Out seemed a little rough around the edges and lacking a little finesse, but there’s no doubting Park’s talent in bringing a sense of cinematic style to the film and creating characters that his audience could invest in.
Even the plot (or lack of it) is pretty simplistic – while trying to decide where to go on Bank Holiday weekend, cheese-loving Wallace decides to go right to the source, the moon (as everyone knows that the moon is made of cheese!). So he builds a rocket with the help of a reluctant Gromit and they’re soon on their way.
Upon landing, they start slicing off parts of the moon’s surface to have with crackers and somehow rile up an itinerant robot who is unhappy with their actions.
It gets better in The Wrong Trousers, with better models, smoother animation, and some frenetic action scenes that are a world away from the simple charm of the first film. When Wallace finds himself a bit skint, his solution is to take on a lodger. This unfortunately means Gromit has to make way for the lodger, a mysterious penguin, who soon starts to be best pals with Wallace. The penguin has an ulterior motive though, and Wallace and Gromit have to work together to put a stop to the wily penguin’s scheme in this hilarious and action-packed caper.
A third short feature called A Close Shave has been omitted from this DVD but it would be worth your while to get that, as well as The Curse of the Were-Rabbit because all the Wallace and Gromit films are highly recommended. In fact, almost anything made by Nick Park is worth catching, including Creature Comforts and Shaun the Sheep.
This is one of those DVDs that the whole family can watch together – everyone from grandparents to parent and kids will enjoy it. - Review by S.N.