Wallace and Gromit – A Matter of Loaf and Death

Cracking good toast, Gromit!

I must admit that I love Aardman animation. Wallace and Gromit are two of the great cartoon characters- if you can call claymation a cartoon. A bumbling mad scientist slash glutton of a fellow, and his silent, clever dog, if you haven’t introduced yourself to their adventures– whether it’s rocketing to the moon to mine the green cheese in A Grand Day Out, foiling a jewel thief penguin with robotic pants gone mad in The Wrong Trousers, sheep shearing and propeller plane dogfights in A Close Shave or the lepusthropic gardening hijinks in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit— Nick Park and crew have consistently raised the bar they’ve set for themselves. Even their non-W&G films such as Chicken Run and Flushed Away– the latter using CG animation mimicking their claymation style- they just show how it’s done, when you want an animated film both kids and adults can not only enjoy, but fondly remember.
Sadly, their latest effort, A Matter of Loaf and Death, won’t be coming to theaters. It was broadcast on British television, and isn’t yet on DVD. Clocking in at only half an hour, it was their first release after a fire gutted the studios. It’s worth hunting down, as it lives up to their stellar reputation, and continues the misadventures of hapless Wallace and his lifesaver of a pooch, Gromit.
This time they’re bakers, and 12 other bakers have been found murdered of late. Wouldn’t want to make it a baker’s dozen, would we? At their Top Bun bakery they’re working hard and making the dough, with Wallace’s gadgets helping out- as long as Gromit’s there to save things from going pear-shaped now and then. During a delivery, Wallace saves a Rubenesque gal named Piella when the brakes on her bicycle fail. She has a shy poodle named Fluffles, who is friendly but very concerned. Wallace and Piella – a former pin-up girl for the Bake-o-Lite company- begin a head over heels romance, but Gromit is suspicious, especially when he finds out that her bike’s brakes are just fine….
As usual, Gromit has to save Wallace from peril that he is unaware he’s even in, and the movie references (and the fur) both fly. My only complain is that it’s not long enough; if they’d been able to create their usual feature length story, it would have more of the little touches they’re known for. At 30 minutes, it’s jam-packed and feels a bit rushed at times. They manage to reference everything from The Silence of the Lambs to Aliens, plus all their prior adventures. It gets a bit breathtaking if you try to catch them all. but more importantly, the old wit and charm are both there, and this is a taste of Aardman to hold us over. Until it comes out on DVD, check out their previous films, which are all top-notch.