Franchise: Wallace & Gromit
Wallace and Gromit are A-OK.
This series of four short animated films and a full-length movie — all done using old-fashioned stop-motion animation — is about a kindhearted but clueless Lancashire-accented
inventor, his long-suffering sentient dog, and his love for cheese. Produced by Nick Park for Aardman Studios
, the series has won fans and accolades on both sides of the Atlantic, including numerous Oscars, and is a rare example of British suburban life visible in media exported to America.
Although the films are the heart of the franchise, it also includes video games, television series, comics, and books. The films are, in order:
- A Grand Day Out (short - 1989). Wherein Wallace and Gromit realise that they're out of cheese and the shops are closed. The solution? Build a rocket in the basement and take a trip to the moon... which, as everyone knows, is made of cheese. While there, they have an encounter with a coin-operated robot who's desperate to go skiing.
- The Wrong Trousers (short - 1993). Wherein Wallace takes in a boarder, a silently menacing penguin named Feathers McGraw, who has sinister plans for both his landlord and Gromit's new birthday present: a pair of "techno-trousers" for automatic walkies. Chaos, naturally, ensues. ("It's the wrong trousers, Gromit, and they've gone wrong!")
- A Close Shave (short - 1995). Wherein Wallace's crush Wendolene turns out to have ties to the local wool shortage, leading to Gromit being imprisoned for sheep-rustling, forcing Wallace to stage a daring jailbreak with the help of a woolly jumper-wearing lamb named Shaun. The three must face the real Big Bad in a final showdown for all the yarn. Shaun later got his own Spinoff called Shaun the Sheep (which itself is getting a film in 2015).
- Cracking Contraptions (short-shorts - 2002). A series of ten 2-3 minute films showcasing Wallace's latest wacky inventions.
- The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (feature-length - 2005). Wherein the combination of a vegetable-growing contest and Wallace's latest invention accidentally unleashes a giant rampaging parody of ancient Hammer Horror cliches on their unsuspecting village... oh, also a giant half-man, half-bunny. This received a Licensed Game adaptation and is noted as being one of the very few horror films in existence to feature a vegetarian monster.
- A Matter of Loaf and Death (short - 2008). Wherein the two run a bakery. While Wallace falls in love with a former bread mascot, Gromit attempts to solve the murders of several bakers... no prizes for guessing whether the two are related. Aired on Christmas Day 2008, it was the top-rated programme of the day (ahead of Doctor Who's "The Next Doctor").
In 2003, Frontier Developments released a video game known as Wallace & Gromit in Project Zoo
, which saw the return of Feathers McGraw as the villain in an original storyline; it was So Okay, It's Average
in most respects. In the spring/summer of 2009, Telltale Games
released a series of four episodic Wallace & Gromit adventure games, collectively Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures
, for the PC and Xbox Live Arcade. The games are notable for successfully replicating the look and feel of the shorts, to the point of having fingerprints and other clay modeling details visible on the characters.
In 2010, BBC One
commissioned a television program, Wallace and Gromit's World of Inventions
, an educational program about famous or revolutionary inventions, hosted by the two. It begin airing in November with the episode Nature Knows Best
See also its spin-off series Shaun the Sheep
and Timmy Time
, the Spin-Off
of the spin-off.
Wallace & Gromit works with their own pages include:
These animations also provide examples of:
- Absent-Minded Professor: Wallace. Oh, so much.
- Alternate Continuity: Released in the long hiatus between A Close Shave and Curse of the Were-Rabbit, The Cheese-Lover's Yearbook was a joint diary shared by Wallace and Gromit, starting from before the events of A Grand Day Out and continuing well after the end of A Close Shave. Much of the content contained in it has been rendered Canon Discontinuity by successive stories, most notably Wallace's continuing friendship with (and infatuation for) Wendolene, despite her cheese allergy.
- Anachronism Stew: Wallace and Gromit seems to be set in a Beanotown-type timewarp where technology and fashion remains much as it did in the 1950s, yet more modern inventions such as laser-security systems and remote controls are also present. A number of pop-culture references from later decades have also been made in the films.
- Art Evolution: The models in A Grand Day Out were very different in design to the models we know now - just look at Wallace in particular. He gained his wide grin in The Wrong Trousers, along with a bouncier lip-sync in Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
- Animation Bump: The first short, A Grand Day Out, was mostly made by Nick Park himself, with Aardman Animations only coming in when the film was half complete. When compared to The Wrong Trousers (the first one with a lot of Aardman work), there is a world of difference in animation between the two.
- Aside Glance: Gromit. All the time.
- Beleaguered Assistant: Gromit, who takes it in his stride.
- Big Ol' Unibrow: Gromit never speaks (because he is a dog), so this is the ONLY way you know what he's feeling. It's really incredible, the emotion you can wring out of an artfully-squashed bit of plasticine...
Wallace: "We've tested this on Gromit. Haven't we, lad?"
Gromit: (eyebrows rise mournfully) *nods*
- Blessed Are the Cheesemakers: Wallace's cheese obsession. The producers have great fun referencing the most bizarre and obscure cheese names possible.
- This namedropping, in fact, saved Wensleydale cheese, which was right on the cusp of disappearing before Wallace and Gromit created a new demand for it. The producers chose this as Wallace's favorite because it looked interesting when he said it.
- Brand X / Bland-Name Product: Everything from Smug Fridges and Duck Matches to Sud-U-Like Soap and ''Ay-Up!'' Magazine.
- British Brevity: Americans who are aware of the franchise might be surprised to know that in twenty years, there have been only six installments, and only one of those six is feature-length. However, this is less to do with it being British and more to do with the agonisingly slow process that stop-motion creation is!
- Bungling Inventor: Wallace, natch.
- In one of the comics, we encounter another three named Derek, Derrick and Eric. They invent a wind-up mobile phone, an automatic winder that you have to wind up, and a key to wind up the automatic winder. Mind you, in another one of the comics Wallace invents an indestructible shoe that eventually nearly destroys the Earth because he couldn't find his slippers.
- The "Cheese Lover's Yearbook" features, as well as the creations of the original shorts: the Recyc-O-Matic, which worked fine until he gave it arms and it ran amok in the town centre eating everything in its path; the Automatic Dairy Maker, which was scrapped after it turned out the "Creamy Wallaby" cheese it produced caused some people to come out in a grassy rash; and the Push-Button Gardener, which raked up all the leaves and dumped them on the living room carpet.
- Butt Monkey: Poor Gromit falls into this all too often... (usually thanks to Wallace's stupidity). Though to balance it out Wallace himself often gets it pretty bad too.
- Catch Phrase: "CheeeeEEEEeeeeeeeese!" (with Wallace's trademark excited hands).
- Also, once things inevitably fall apart, Wallace's "GROMIT! HELP! DO SOMETHING!," or the less emphatic "Gromit! Do something, lad!" There's no ceiling on how many times Wallace will say this in a single episode.
- Chekhov's Gun: In any of the times we see one of the many To the Batpole! segments in the opening, it will usually play a crucial role in the climax.
- Civilized Animal: Gromit is usually depicted as walking upright, and is capable of creating and operating complex machinery. Generally he's shown to be significantly more shrewd and sensible than his master. However, despite all of this, everyone treats him the same as you treat any dog. He has both a room in the house and a kennel in the yard, and walks on two or four legs as the plot requires. He's also been shown to eat from a dog dish or at a human table on different occasions.
- Continuity Nod: Frequent and gleeful, starting with a running gag in which the headlines on the paper Wallace is reading or a news bulletin on TV in a short reference events of an earlier short.
- Deadpan Snarker: While Gromit is usually a Silent Snarker, the duo's mutual diary - published as the Cheese Lover's Yearbook - has little typewritten notes expressing Gromit's reaction to whatever is happening. After the entries for "A Close Shave":
Wallace: Relieved to have come out of this in one piece.
Gromit: Instead of several hundred, like Preston. - G
- Did Not Get the Girl: Wallace on three occasions.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: This is a stop-motion animated series, after all.
- Fun with Acronyms: The comic "Anoraknophobia" has SPARROW - an operation to Steal, Pilfer And Recklessly Requisition Other People's Work. Wallace gets somewhat sidetracked by there being only one P in "Sparrow".
- Genius Ditz / Mad Scientist: Wallace's inventions range from malfunctioning Rube Goldberg-esque devices to clever and groundbreaking gadgets — which also have a tendency to malfunction. Notably, he seems more competent in the feature film than in most of the shorts.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: So, so many Double Entendres... In the majority of the adventures, really.
- Girl of the Week: All of Wallace's love interests.
- Gone Horribly Right: About 1/3 of Wallace's inventions. (e.g. the time Wallace wanted to pump up some honeybees with Muscle-Gro to make them super-efficient honey-producers, and wound up making giant bees that rampaged all over town)
- Gone Horribly Wrong: About 1/3 of Wallace's inventions, due to accidents (e.g. The Rabbit Rehabilitator), or misuse (e.g. the Power Trousers).
- Hammerspace: Used by the animal characters. They have been known to produce coins, penknives and, in the case of Feathers McGraw, a gun, despite having no pockets.
- Homemade Inventions: The series trademark, and the propellant for most of the plots. Cracking Contraptions is exclusively about these.
- Hurricane of Puns: Ooh yeah. The canine-themed titles of the books Gromit reads are a series-long running gag.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Gromit.
- Impact Silhouette: Gromit in one of the Crackling Contraptions shorts.
- Intellectual Animal / Speech-Impaired Animal: Gromit, though he makes barely audible whining sounds at points.
- The Jeeves: Gromit acts as Wallace's valet, ready to do his master's bidding at the touch of a button: "Slippers, Breakfast, Newspaper, Walkies." Like every good Jeeves, though, his real job is to keep his Cloud Cuckoolander boss out of harm's way.
- Also Jeeves-like are his highly expressive eyebrows.
- Jump Scare: While not in the series proper, the Thrill-O-Matic dark ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach seems to end with a cheerful video clip of a smiling Wallace and Gromit... only for there to be a sudden Jump Scare courtesy of a roaring Were Rabbit.
- Karma Houdini: Wendolene in her poaching sheep to get free yarn. In fact she expresses no suprise as her robot dog is killing sheep en masse to make dog food.
- Fluffles is also implied to have been assisting Piella murder at least a dozen bakers. Both examples are shown to be rather remorseful, however, unwillingly dragged into the act by the much more callous Big Bad, and eventually draw the line after it goes too far.
Wendolene: I want no more of this rustling! It wasn't so bad when it was just the wool but, this is evil!
- Wendolene didn't exactly get away without a punishment if you consider the fact that Preston actually tried to kill her and grind her up into dog food when she finally tried to stop him. Meanwhile Fluffles is abused by Piella in an increasingly unsubtle fashion.
- Meaningful Name: Wallace can be diminutised as "Wally", a slang term for a naïve or foolish person. A grommet is a rubber ring used to seal the edge of a hole, to stop it chafing the insulation of wires passed through the hole.
- The Merch: Shortly after the release of A Close Shave, companies took note of how merchandisable the characters were, particularly Gromit and Shaun. Plush toys, backpacks, key chains, alarm clocks and figurines are just a small helping of products you can find with their likeness slapped on.
- Minimalist Cast: In all of the films except for Were-Rabbit, only characters relevant to the plot make an appearance. This meant that A Grand Day Out and Wrong Trousers had a cast of only three, of which only one (Wallace) has a speaking part.
- Even the cast of Were-Rabbit is very limited (though significantly larger than any of the shorts). Outside of the major players: Wallace, Gromit, Lady Tottington, Victor, Phillip, and Hutch; the supporting cast consists of a handful of neighbours, the local minister, and a police officer.
- Mini-Mecha: With oven mitts.
- Newspaper Thin Disguise: Several of them.
- No Mouth: Gromit
- Obsessed with Food: Namely, cheese, at least in Wallace's case.
- Only One Name: Wallace. Even his post is addressed to just "Wallace" although all the other human characters have surnames.
- Oop North: Specifically, Oop in Lancashire (though Wallace's accent is actually Yorkshire). Kept vague until Loaf and Death, when Gromit tries to dispose of a bomb by throwing it across the Yorkshire border.
- Multiple characters affectionately address Gromit as "Chuck". In context it's something like "dear" and is a local colloquialism.
- Parody: A major feature of all the films except for the first. Although A Grand Day Out was funny and surreal, it was with the spoofing of old heist movies in The Wrong Trousers that the series found its true direction.
- Punny Name: Everybody bar the two mains, and trying to list them all would take most of the entry as even one-offs get names like this.
- The Renaissance Age of Animation: The series premièred in 1989 during the initial boom of animation.
- Riding into the Sunset
- Rube Goldberg Device: Wallace's method of invention has been described by Nick Park as the equivalent of cracking a nut with a sledgehammer.
- Serious Business: Wallace's business ventures always take otherwise mundane concepts such as window washing or baking to a ludicrous extreme to accommodate the previously mentioned Rube Goldberg Device methods he feels are necessary to do the job.
- Shout-Out: Most of Aardman's work use this with amazing frequency. The Wrong Trousers contains an extended spoof of heist movies, just as Were-Rabbit parodies a number of horror tropes. Individual shout outs are so numerous as to take up a ridiculous entry length, but viewers paying close attention are well rewarded.
- Silent Partner: Gromit, who is also...
- Silent Snarker: ...and it's quite shocking how expressive he is considering he is always portrayed without a mouth, leaving his eyebrows to convey all of his emotions.
- Something That Begins with "Boring": "Cheese Lover's Yearbook" has them going on a caravan holiday...where it naturally rains pretty much the whole time. Entries included "Played I Spy with Gromit all day"G and "There are 756 flowers on the wallpaper in the caravan".
- Spin-Off: Shaun the Sheep got his own TV series.
- Station Ident: To mark the showing of Loaf and Death, BBC1 ran a number of specially-filmed 'Wallace and Gromit' idents during Christmas 2008.
- This was done way back in 1995, with several Christmas-themed idents for BBC2.
- Also done years earlier where a scene from A Grand Day Out is modified to show the Channel 4 logo drawn by Wallace when he flips over his drawing paper.
- Stop Motion: All animated in Claymation.
- Super Multi-Purpose Room: Basically every room in Wallace's house has built-in intricate mechanisms and contraptions to help him wake up, get dressed, effortlessly get seated for breakfast, get the breakfast prepared, get into the car, and and and ... See To the Batpole!
- Technology Porn: Wallace's inventions — elaborate, ridiculous and oh so fun to watch.
- Too Dumb to Live: Wallace has been close to death far too often, mostly due to his absent-mindedness, and not paying attention to Gromit's warnings.
- To the Batpole!: A Close Shave, the feature film Curse of the Were-Rabbit and A Matter of Loaf and Death all feature our heroes suiting up via a Heath Robinson-esque process, depicted in all its absurd detail. (In A Close Shave, only Wallace goes through the process; Gromit then simply walks through a door from the kitchen, rolling his eyes.) An earlier example is established in The Wrong Trousers: Wallace apparently begins every day with his bed tilting up and dropping him into a trapdoor from his upstairs bedroom to a chair at the dining room table, with mechanical arms providing a costume change. Both of these examples are intended as direct references to Gerry Anderson and Thunderbirds.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Cheese, particularly Wensleydale, is Wallace's favourite, but he's also pretty enthusiastic about toast.
- The Voiceless: Gromit himself makes a few audible yelps and growls in The Wrong Trousers.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The name of the town is never given, though freeze-framing reveals Wallace's post is addressed to Wigan. A poster in Loaf And Death also shows a performance of Carmen taking place at the "Wigan Palais". And the van in Were-Rabbit has a Wigan A-Z.
- Loaf and Death shows Wallace's house facing the Yorkshire border to the north.
- Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Wallace has currently worked on-screen as a window cleaner, an exterminator, a baker and a television presenter.
- In the Grand Adventures games, a bee-keeper, runner of an indoor holiday resort, ice-cream vendor and detective.