Wallace & Gromit: The Best Of Aardman Animations

on June 14, 1996 by Kim Williamson
   A collection of animated shorts, commercials and a music video, "Wallace & Gromit" showcases the claymation efforts of Bristol, England-based Aardman Animations, best known as the home of Nick Park's Oscar-winning "Creature Comforts," the Chevron talking-cars TV ad and Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" music video. In this festival film, along with a Nina Simone music video and a series of commercials for the British Heat Electric Co., the lineup includes the likes of "Pib & Pog" (picture a British "Itchy & Scratchy"), "Rex the Runt" (a history of the dinosaur's extinction) and one of the most successful, "Wat's Pig," a tale of twins separated at birth, one who becomes a milquetoast king, the other a bold peasant. All are powered by pleasing amounts of comedy, but none quite matches the laughs or humanity of Park's "Creature Comforts," in which zoo animals are interviewed, and of Park's new Wallace & Gromit adventure, "A Close Shave," which recently--and most deservedly--brought Park his third Oscar. This time out, odd inventor Wallace and his Snoopy-like canine Gromit (the stars of Park's "A Grand Day Out" and "The Wrong Trousers") must do mirthful battle with Preston, an evil robot dog who is shearing the countryside of sheep. Before it's over, Wallace has fallen in love with the widow Wendolene Ramsbottom, Gromit has taken to the air on strafing runs, and a Knit-O-Matic machine has saved the day--and audiences have had some of the heartiest laughs brought them by the silver screen this year. Not all the Aardman Collection reaches this rarefied air, but the whole is worth seeing, even if just for the Park offerings alone.    A Northern Arts release. Animation. Unrated. Running time: 75 min.
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