Western Animation / A Close Shave


A Close Shave is the third short film featuring Wallace & Gromit.

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 whom Wallace names Shaun. The three must face the real villain in a final showdown for all the yarn.

Released in 1995, it won the 1995 Academy Award for Animated Short Film.

Shaun later got his own Spinoff called Shaun the Sheep.

This film provides examples of:

  • Accidental Hand Hold
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Preston, the villain, was once a good robot dog that according to Wendolene suddenly became evil.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Shaun and the other sheep in general.
  • Animation Bump: While not as huge a difference between A Grand Day Out and The Wrong Trousers, the puppets are noticeably better-constructed and the character animation is subtler. This short also ratchets up the scope of things, including animating large flocks of sheep and extensive outdoor scenes. It was also the first installment of the series to have computer effects, used here to digitally remove the rig that helped Gromit's plane fly.
  • Becoming Part of the Image: The villain frames Gromit for the sheep kidnappings by tricking him into sticking his head through a picture of a butcher in front of Shaun the sheep, and then taking a very incriminating photograph.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Gromit, who takes it in his stride.
  • Big Eater: All of the sheep. Shawn, in particular, is introduced by having taken numerous bites of varying sizes out of everything in their house!
  • Big Ol' Unibrow: Gromit never speaks, 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*
  • Bittersweet Ending: Wallace saves Wendolene, but true love is thwarted as he discovers she is allergic to cheese. Even Wensleydale.
  • Brand X: Played with inasmuch as Wallace and Gromit are working as window-cleaners when they meet Wendolene; "Windolene" is a cleaning product sold for cleaning glass. Wallace is also seen holding a box of "Sud-U-Like" soap flakes.
  • Break the Haughty: Gromit takes being falsely accused of sheep rustling and incarceration pretty well at first. But when he gets a package from Wallace in his cell, the magnitude of this whole unfair situation comes crashing down on him and he weeps while pounding his fist on the table.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Shawn is introduced to the duo after he spends several hours munching on all of their possession. At the end, as they settle down for some cheese (only to reveal that he's eating that too), you can see most of their furniture has been repaired... by putting band-aids on them.
    • The first sign of Shawn's intrusion is that he chewed through the wires on Wallace's porridge dispenser, resulting in the machine malfunction and pelting him with machine-gun porridge. Later, Gromit uses this as Edible Ammunition against Preston.
  • Bungling Inventor: Wallace, as usual.
  • Call-Back: When Preston grabs Gromit's monoplane by the propeller, Gromit is spun around and thrown out of shot in much the same way as he was when his drill got stuck while building the rocket in A Grand Day Out.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The porridge-shooting machine. Originally the result of a malfunction, it's later repurposed to clean the clocktower and, in the final showdown, as an offensive weapon that fires globs of porridge at Preston.
  • 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 as an animal - although when falsely arrested, he is thrown into jail rather than a dog pound.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • When Gromit is put in prison, there's graffiti on the wall reading "Feathers Woz 'Ere".
    • Wallace and Gromit have a series of three models of the rocket from A Grand Day Out on their wall instead of the more traditional ducks.
  • Conveyor Belt o' Doom: Features in the climax.
  • Cool Sidecar: The sidecar of Wallace and Gromit's motorcycle can double as an aeroplane. It also comes with a retractable rapid-fire cannon that the heroes usually use to shoot soapy water up onto windows they're cleaning from ground level, but during the climax Gromit loads it with porridge to fight the villain.
  • Darker and Edgier: Unrequited love, sheep rustling, blackmail, attempted murder, implied actual murder... and Word of God says that it was originally supposed to be even darker! Of course, because this is Wallace & Gromit, it's all played as ridiculously as possible.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Given that burglars are thieves:
    Wallace: Good grief! What's all this? Burglars?! Thieves?!"
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Wallace saves Wendolene, but true love is thwarted as he discovers she is allergic to cheese.
  • Duck!
    Wallace: Where?...Aah! (Ducks)
  • Doppelgänger Dating: Wendolene looks remarkably like Wallace in a dress and a wig, shares many of his mannerisms, and has a faithful canine companion. She's not an inventor herself, but her father was.
  • Double Take: Preston has a few, notably when he spots Gromit chasing his truck on a sidecar-turned-airplane in the rear-view mirror.
  • Edible Ammunition: The porridge cannon.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Preston is first seen with a Death Glare on his face as he makes to get out of the van to get Shaun back, setting up how he is menacing and a bit of a bully, and he later gives a similar look to Gromit when the two first see each other a few scenes later. This is not a character we are meant to like.
  • Evil Counterpart: In many ways, Preston is an evil version of Gromit.
  • Face–Heel Turn: According to Wendolene, Preston was once a sweet dog, but he recently turned in a murderous schemer.
  • Flintstone Theming: The running gag of Gromit's canine-themed library continues with a book by Fido Dogstoevsky.
  • Foreshadowing: When Wendolene points out the portrait of her inventor father holding a spanner, Preston is also predominantly in the picture, foreshadowing the fact that her father actually built him.
  • Frameup: Gromit is framed as a sheep-rustler.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Just before Gromit crashes off the cliff in the detached side-car, Feathers McGraw briefly appears at the side of the path.
  • Funny Background Event: During Wallace and Wendolene's first meeting, Gromit is cleaning the windows on a bungee cord in the background, which then gets more hilarious when Preston disrupts his operation, leaving him bouncing up and down helplessly, before finally just hanging there upside down with his arms folded.
    • Before that, as Wallace and Gromit are searching their house to figure out what caused all of the random bite marks in all their stuff, Wallace puts his feet up on the culprit, who's pushed his hassock aside to munch on the hay inside.
  • Genius Book Club: In prison, Gromit passes the time by reading Crime and Punishment (by, according to the cover, Fido Dogstoevsky).
  • Girl of the Week: Wendolene. There is some romance built up between her and Wallace over the short. It ends when she reveals she's allergic to cheese.
  • Heel–Face Turn: After Preston's malfunctioning hide is disassembled in the Mutton-O-Matic, Wallace rebuilds him to be a good dog again. The result however is a much more basic, pitiful looking robot running on wheels and powered by remote control. According to Wendolene however, his behaviour is just like his old self.
  • Human Ladder: Well, sort of. It's a Sheep Ladder.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Gromit.
  • Intellectual Animal / Speech-Impaired Animal: Gromit, Shaun and Preston are all rather intelligent, but are treated as animals in-universe.
  • Manly Tears:
    • Having been falsely convicted of the sheep rustling by the real culprit Preston and sentenced to life in prison, Gromit receives a gift of a jigsaw puzzle in his cell. Upon seeing it's a puzzle of a flock of sheep, he cracks at the unfairness of it all and sobs, banging his fist against the box. In the next scene, his eyes are still wet with tears as he puts the puzzle together.
    • Wallace and Shaun are both noticeably teary-eyed after reading the final verdict in the papers.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Wallace and Gromit give Shaun his name after he is accidentally shorn.
    • Preston gets pressed on!
  • Minor Flaw, Major Breakup: Wendolene seems perfect for Wallace, until he discovers she is allergic to cheese.
  • No Mouth: Gromit
  • Not Even Human: Preston is a robot!
  • Not So Stoic: As Wallace keeps track of Gromit's trial in the papers, the sheep merely flock in his house, chewing mindlessly. When the final verdict is given however, they are all huddled silently behind Wallace reading with sorrowful, teary eyed looks.
  • Not What I Signed on For: Wendolene tries to back out of being Preston's rustling partner when she discovers that he plans to grind the sheep into dog food and sell it.
    Wendolene: "It wasn't so bad when it was just the wool, but... this is evil!"
  • Oh, Crap!: Preston gets a few of these. When Gromit starts firing porridge at him with the porridge gun. When he and Gromit land on the Conveyor Belt o' Doom that leads to the meat processor. And a third when Shaun knocks him off the conveyor with the anvil and into the processor.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Wallace's first scene with Wendonlie is the first time he's ever shown actually contemplating the outcome of his actions, as opposed to his usual devil-may-care attitude with Gromit or one of his inventions. It's the first sign that he has feeling for her.
  • Orchestral Bombing: When Gromit attacks in his sidecar-aeroplane, it plays out like a scene from war movie, with the soundtrack to match.
  • Packed Hero: The villain intends to do this to the heroes, complete with Conveyor Belt o' Doom into a machine which produces canned dog food. In the end it is the villain who gets crushed up and delivered into the cans. Not as gruesome as it sounds, since the villain is really a robot.
  • Parody: Of wrongfully-accused/prison-break movies.
  • Parrot Expo-what?: How we discover Preston's true form.
    Wendoline: He's malfunctioning.
    Wallace: Mal-what?
    Wendoline: (scared) Malfunctioning. Preston is a cyber dog.
    Wallace: Cyber-wha-?
    Wendoline: A robot!
  • Punny Name: Shaun rhymes with "shorn" (as in "sheared") in non-rhotic varieties of English. The DVD Commentary has an amusing bit of Nick Park trying helplessly to say it with an American accent.
  • Robot Dog: Preston
  • Robotic Reveal: When Preston is put into the sheep-shearing device, sparks fly, and the Robot Dog emerges stripped to the metal.
  • Shout-Out: Lots of clever thematic ones to the Tim Burton Batman films and the two Terminator films in the climactic scenes. Also, the sequence of Wallace going through the automated process of getting dressed into his window-washing overalls is a big Homage to Thunderbirds.
  • Silent Partner: Gromit, who is also...
  • Silent Snarker: ...and it's remarkable how expressive he is considering he is always portrayed without a mouth, leaving the rest of his face to convey all of his emotions.
  • Skewed Priorities: Played for laughs with Wallace, who is more outraged that Preston stole his knitting machine and then impressed by Preston also having built a giant meat grinding machine than the fact that he and the others are about to be fed into said machines.
  • Stop Motion
  • Super Strength: Preston is exceptionally strong, able to snap a wooden staff in two almost effortlessly and break out of the Knit-o-Matic when he is stripped down to his robotic shell.
  • Tempting Fate: Played for laughs. At the end, Wallace and Gromit sit down to have some cheese, with Wallace remarking "and not a sheep to worry us" as he goes to lift the food cover. Guess who he finds munching on their snack.
  • Thing-O-Matic:
    • The Knit-o-Matic machine.
    • And later we see Preston's Mutton-o-Matic
  • Title Drop: When Gromit programs the Knit-o-Matic machine to give Preston a "Close Shave". Complete with a shameless wink at the audience.
  • Totem Pole Trench
  • To the Batpole!: Wallace has a ludicrously complicated set of slides and machines to transport himself from his armchair to his motorbike and get dressed for work. (Gromit then simply walks into the garage through a door from the kitchen, rolling his eyes.) Wallace's method of getting to the motorbike is a huge nod towards the old Thunderbirds show. As is the flipping pond when they leave the garage.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Cheese, particularly Wensleydale, is Wallace's favorite.
  • We Don't Need Roads: The sidecar of Wallace and Gromit's motorcycle can double as an aeroplane.
  • Wham Line: "He's malfunctioning!"