Wow. Just wow. Mark this one in your calendar folks. Today I watched a Wallace and Gromit that I wasn’t absolutely over the moon with. Yeah, I was surprised, too. Usually, I am utterly smitten with this crazy duo, but I found the latest installation to be a little on the “meh” side.
If anyone is unfamiliar with the Wallace and Gromit franchise, for shame, for shame. Do some penance: eat a few stinky cheeses, count sweater-wearing sheep named Shaun, and give your dog a treat (he is probably a lot smarter than you realize, if Gromit is any indication). Then, watch a few of the early shorts—A Close Shave or The Wrong Trousers. When you are done, then we can talk.
A Matter of Loaf and Death stars our favorite cheese-eating duo: Wallace, a follicly- challenged human with an unusual fondness for sweater vests and bow-ties; and Gromit, Wallace’s brilliant, eye-rolling pup. In Loaf and Death, the two have started a bakery—almost all mechanically operated by their crazy inventions. However, a serial killer has been targeting bakers (most likely because their goods were too dry). At the same time, Wallace meets Piella Bakewell, a woman who mysteriously falls for him. He does not suspect a thing, though Gromit (a sharp tack) has suspicions early on. Is Piella a homicidal maniac? Or is she just insane—so insane that she is head over heels for the wacky inventor? You be the judge.
Usually, I fall madly in love with any Wallace and Gromit show. They are quirky, loveable, and simply brilliant. A Matter of Loaf and Death, however, fell a bit short. This is not to say that I didn’t like it, I did. It just didn’t measure up to the high standards set by its predecessors. I felt that aspects of the story weren’t quite there. When Wallace runs around screaming, “Gromit, I’ve got a bomb in me pants,” I question how many times the script was revised before it was considered “final” (In the film’s defense, however, there was a bomb in his pants. It was not some cheesy pick-up line or a request for a new diaper). Compare that action scene to the train chase sequence in The Wrong Trousers, and you would find that Loaf comes up wanting (Dude, in The Wrong Trousers, Gromit lays down the toy train track as he rides the locomotive. That is so rad).
As with all Wallace and Gromit films, however, it was visually astounding. Sure, I have a soft spot for claymation (darn you California Raisins and The Adventures of Mark Twain!); but these films/shorts are impeccable. The sets are beautiful—with great attention to detail– and feature many moving parts (which is quite difficult to do in stop motion animation). I totally love the animation style—especially with Gromit. You see, Gromit doesn’t talk, so all of his emotions are conveyed through his actions and expressions. However, the viewer is left with no doubt what that pup is thinking because it is done so well. Bravo.
Also, you have to love Gromit. The dog is a genius—he has both street and book smarts. What a pup! Wallace is oblivious to how brilliant his canine is; Gromit saves the day every time (should I have said spoiler alert?), yet remains humble. This makes me wonder if I overlook my puppy’s brilliance. Sure, my puppy, Sirius, tries to eat from the litter box on every occasion that arises; but maybe Gromit did this as well, only to find the incriminating scenes on the cutting room floor (It is only a half hour show). And maybe Sirius hasn’t invented a machine that will not only wake me up, but dress me and make me breakfast–yet—but he’s still young. Gromit probably invented that when he was 3 (that’s 21 people… or is it dog…. years). Oh well, at least Sirius doesn’t roll his eyes at me every time I say something stupid (he would be constantly rolling his eyes, and that would just look silly).
Although I think it falls well below the standards the previous shorts (and The Curse of the Wererabbit) set, this is a sweet show. The characters are so loveable and pure. There are no secrets, no love-child that will inexplicably find its way into the show, no dark past; just honest characters. I love that about Wallace and Gromit. And, if that doesn’t do it for you, they have one of the catchiest theme songs around!:)
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