Wallace and Gromit, The Incredible Adventures of...
Director: Nick Park
TRT: uh, well, about 1 hr. 21 minutes, I guess
A DMR first, a review on something that is for all ages. Young and old alike will appreciate the, for lack of better term, delightful stories (3 on this one) and claymation by instigator Nick Park. Originally shown on the BBC, this is without a doubt some great craftsmenship and some funny shite, UK style (but transferable, nontheless). I dunno what the infatuation with CHEESE is all about, but it is a recurring element between a somewhat dimwitted inventor and his very intelligent dog. A brief synopsis on the three stories (though these really have to be seen to be appreciated):
A Grand Day Out: Human Wallace and his Dog Gromit are spending the afternoon looking at various advertisements, wondering where they should go for holiday. But a sudden problem of lack of cheese presents the destination of the moon, since, well, it's made of cheese, ain't it?
Great Scene: Several, my favs: Tic-Tac-Toe, Observant Mice, Playing Ball on the Moon, and Do Androids Dream of Downhill Skiing?
The Wrong Trousers: Due to budgetary concerns, Wallace must rent a room out to a border. He ends up with something worse than a white-trash neighbor. It's amazing how sinister one can make a penguin.
Great Scene: The alley scene with a tape-measure and a cut-out from a box, and a hauntingly familiar train sequence ala Tom & Jerry.
A Close Shave: It's a love story, a drama, a mystery, and a bunch of stupid sheep, with a Terminator kind of twist.
Great Scene: A gnome-laden flip-pond, how to wash a sheep, sheep in formation, and a bunch of stupid sheep.
You can really see the progression of sophistication of the technique from the first short to the third, but it really doesn't matter. It's great storytelling, and overall, there is some great style and use of expression by these characters. Though Gromit (the Dog) never speaks, he communicates as effectively as anyone else. That and an amazing attention to detail (most notably to newspaper and book titles), with music that is perfect throughout. RECOMMENDED FOR ALL!!!!
An additional note, an "American" Hollywood follow-up can be seen in the feature-length film Chicken Run, which is inventive and funny in itself, but lacks some of the charm these original shorts have.
DVD Notes: Absolutely fantastic DVD put out by Warner Bros. with commentary for each short, as well as a decent look and commentary on the origins in behind-the-scenes format. Also included is a lot of other extras that, having watched the shorts, even the casual viewer will enjoy.