November 07, 2009

Settling Down with Wallace, Gromit

Revisiting animator Nick Park's extraordinary Wallace and Gromit shorts is like watching a great Bugs Bunny cartoon for the first time since your childhood.

You marvel at the subtlety of the animation: the movements, the camerawork. You relish the fine characterization that makes the flick come alive.

And you wonder why you ever stopped watching the thing in the first place.

That's how it was after re-viewing Park's triumvirate of terrific W&G shorts with Trudi: A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave. These beautiful films, which I had seen for the first time in the 1990s at Spike & Mike's Festival of Animation in New York, are little masterpieces--classic romps in which the cheese-obsessed, slightly dotty inventor Wallace and his faithful dog, Gromit (one of the greatest, most expressive silent characters in film, in my opinion...on a par with Charlie Chaplin and Jacques Tati, despite the dog's animated aspect) visit the moon, take in a paying (penguin) guest and explore the world of sheep rustling, respectively.

If you haven't experienced these worlds before, I envy you. You still have a first time to do it.

And if you have viewed them previously, I encourage you to revisit them. I think I'll do so every so often, from now on. Everything--from Park's superb modelwork to the charming, almost-too-good-for-a-cartoon scores by Julian Nott--works brilliantly, and you'll be as satisfied at the end of each film as you'd be following a date with an old friend over tea.

With some fine Wensleydale cheese, of course. I think Bugs Bunny would approve of that.

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