Wallace and Gromit: The Best of Aardman Animation
1996, NR, 80 min. Directed by Various.
REVIEWED By Joey O'Bryan, Fri., June 14, 1996
Despite the prominent billing they're given in the movie's title, only one episode here features that increasingly popular duo known as Wallace and Gromit, but don't let that keep you from seeing this fine collection of animated shorts. Together, they represent some of the best work to come out of England's distinguished Aardman animation studios since its inception in 1972. Besides offering some of the best model and clay animation you're likely to see anywhere, these shorts are also filled with loads of wit, innovation, and, most distinctively, humanity. All three of these qualities are present in the exquisite comedy “Wat's Pig” and a superb music video for Nina Simone's classic tune “My Baby Just Cares For Me” (both of which were directed by Aardman co-founder Peter Lord), while a pair of Rex the Runt shorts go for a far more anarchic brand of humor, with the bizarre second episode, “Dreams,” going as far as featuring an outrageous parody of David Lynch's cult favorite Eraserhead. All these, however, are merely warm-ups for this program's main attraction: Nick Park's new, Oscar-winning, 30-minute Wallace and Gromit spectacular, “A Close Shave.” A crowd-pleasing blend of comedy, action, and romance (with just a dash of science fiction thrown in for good measure), “A Close Shave” is sure to have audiences cheering as our cheese-and-cracker loving heroes try to solve the mystery behind a recent rash of sheep disappearances. In addition to this latest endeavor, a sampling of Park's earlier, pre-Wallace and Gromit work has also been included. Amongst these are his extraordinary “Creature Comforts,” as well as a series of amusing electricity commercials that were inspired by that award-winning effort. While a few of the films -- like the intriguing character sketch “Early Bird” and the charmingly sadistic “Pib and Pog” -- are a bit too one-note to truly hold their own against their far richer competition, there really isn't a bad short in the bunch, making this briskly paced collection a must for animation buffs.