Thursday, May 26, 2011

Movie Review: Wallace and Gromit in Three Amazing Adventures

When I queued this up in Netflix I didn't think I had seen it. But after watching it I realized that I'd watched them before, probably with my former roommate, Luther. The "Three Amazing Adventures" are three short films: A Grand Day Out, A Close Shave, and The Wrong Trousers. They feature Wallace, a cheese-loving window washer who moonlights as an inventor, and Gromit, his dog who has above-average intelligence. Wallace often gets himself into trouble and Gromit gets him out of it. All three shorts were produced using stop-motion animation and plasticine modeling clay molded around metal armatures.

My verdict: The humor is decidedly British, but entirely clean. Given how time- and labor-intensive stop-motion animation is [1], the plots of these films are surprisingly offbeat.[2] However, they are only quirky, not bizarre; featuring: a trip to eat the cheese on the moon, a dog which forces its owner to kidnap sheep, and a criminal penguin. Some of the things they accomplished with the stop-motion animation was simply incredible, including soap suds, rain, paint, and flying porridge. These were definitely fun to watch. And the dog, Gromit, is surprisingly emotive. Be sure to look for hidden easter eggs, like when Gromit reads the book Crime and Punishment by Fido Dogstoevski.[3]


[1] It takes about one day to shoot one second's worth of film. See and Gromit#Stop-motion technique.

[2] Given the limited production of stop-motion animated films, though, they also tend to be produced independently of the studio system, and so are more likely to be unconventional. As examples, I point you to the animations of Jan Švankmajer (Alice, Faust, and Otesánek) and Tim Burton (Corpse Bride and The Nightmare Before Christmas).

[3] Just in case you didn't catch that joke: Crime and Punishment was actually written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

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