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Western Animation / A Matter of Loaf and Death

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A Matter of Loaf and Death is the fourth and, to date, final short film featuring Wallace & Gromit and their last film to feature Peter Sallis as Wallace. It first aired on Christmas Day 2008.

Wallace and Gromit run a bakery, and Wallace falls in love though Gromit has his suspicions. Can you blame him?

This animated short subject provides examples of:

  • Accidental Hand Hold:
    • When Wallace and Piella are feeding ducks, their hands meet in the bag of bread.
    • Likewise for Gromit and Fluffles when she's giving him back his box of possessions.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Wallace really has a thing for his "Bake-O-Lite" girl, and the torch he carries for her can't even be extinguished by the fact that Piella has sunk to become a rage-filled serial killer Fat Bitch who tried to bump Wallace himself off and is constantly abusive to her dog.
    • Implied: Even in light of all that transpired, seeing her owner die causes Fluffles to (briefly) leave.
  • Ambiguous Situation: It isn't 100% clear if Piella actually noticed Gromit hanging from her ceiling or not.
  • Amusing Injuries: When Wallace first sees Piella, he tosses another loaf of bread out of his window, only for it to miss the mailbox he was aiming for and it hits a passing old woman in the head, knocking her over a fence.
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  • Art Evolution: This was the first, and so far only, W&G short to be photographed with digital cameras, and is the most crisp-looking one as a result.
  • Bad Bedroom, Bad Life: Fluffles, despite living in a luxurious home, is forced to sleep in an old cardboard box with a tattered blanket.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Piella forces Fluffles to play a part in her scheme to murder bakers, she is intimidating and heavily implied to be abusive right from the start — hitting her and making her sleep in a cardboard box — and at one point almost gets her killed in an act to lure in Wallace. After a nasty smack from Piella for helping the two, Fluffles is the one to take her down.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: Part of a Funny Background Event at the zoo.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Gromit.
  • Big "NO!": Baker Bob, accompanied with an Oh, Crap! in the opening scene, before being murdered.
    • Wallace when, after falling from the windmill and landing in his own bed, the bomb falls and lands right in front of him.
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    • Wallace when Piella's balloon sinks into the crocodile enclosure at the zoo, right before Piella's Karmic Death.
  • 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...
  • Bigger on the Inside: Somehow, a full bakery factory with machines, chutes and cogs manages to fit into the dimensions of a small two-story house — which still has room for a kitchen, dining room and bedrooms.
  • Big "YES!": Wallace after he falls out of his trousers from the windmill and lands on his bed, thinking he's escaped the bomb. Shortly afterwards, the second Big "NO!" example follows.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Piella Bakewell.
  • Black Screen of Death: Probably the most soul-wrenching part of the short. Piella mercilessly slaps Fluffles, and we see it from the dog's perspective. The screen goes black and Fluffles yelps on impact.
  • Black Widow: Piella Bakewell.
  • Blatant Lies: After Gromit wakes Wallace up with a water balloon, Wallace says he was just coming. Seconds before, however, he had been talking in his sleep.
  • Bomb Disposal: Gromit needs to dispose of a bomb. First he tries Relocating the Explosion, but everywhere he turns there's a Bus Full of Innocents. Eventually, he smothers the bomb in bread dough.
  • Brand X: The "Bake-O-Lite Balloon" was a genuine ad campaign for the Nimble loaf, which has since been incorporated into Hovis.
  • Break the Cutie: Fluffles comes pre-broken, evident from the trembling.
  • Brick Joke: The Get-U-Up system. Seen at the start to get Wallace out of bed, and when Piella accidentally activates it during the climax, it deposits the bomb into Wallace's trousers.
  • Bungling Inventor: Wallace, as per usual.
  • Burp of Finality: A deep, satisfied belch from the crocodile pit at the zoo, prior to the Bake-O-Lite balloon drifting skywards again sans seat or passenger, makes it clear that Piella was eaten by the crocodiles.
  • Cartoon Bomb: Not only is it your classic cannonball-with-a-fuse, but it has "BOMB" written on it in large white letters. Cue Wallace: "Oh, Gromit! It's a bomb!".
  • Ceiling Cling: How Gromit hides from Piella. All night, no less.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The Bake-O-Lite balloon. Piella used to ride it as the Bake-O-Lite girl, then Gromit and Fluffles use it to get back to Wallace's house after escaping from Piella, then Piella attempts to use it to escape and, as earlier said, it fails because she's too heavy.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The forklift with the oven mitts on it. Gromit uses it to get the bread out of the oven after waking Wallace up with a water balloon, then Fluffles uses it Aliens-style against Piella in the climax as revenge for the abuse she's suffered at Piella's hands.
    • The crocodile at the zoo plays an important role in both the beginning and end of the story.
  • 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.
    • Fluffles is similarly capable, though she's generally shown on all fours for much of the film. Notably, her moments of bipedalism happen either out of the sight of her abusive master, or at the film's end when she finally stands up to her and remains bipedal for the rest of the film.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The baker murdered at the start can be seen on an ad for his bakery in A Close Shave.
    • When Piella crashes into the zoo, to the right of the gate is a poster saying "One Of Our Penguins Is Missing", complete with a picture of what looks like Feathers McGraw. To the left of the gate is a ladder propped against the inside of the wall — with a rope made of sheets hanging down the outside.
    • Fluffes' poor living conditions include being made to sleep in a "Meatabix" box like the one Gromit hid in while spying on Feathers McGraw walking through town.
    • One of the pictures of a younger Wallace with Gromit as a puppy from the opening sequence of The Curse of the Were-Rabbit can be seen in Wallace's living room.
    • Wallace's dough-inflated-trousers looked a little like a pair he'd owned previously...
  • Cute Mute: Fluffles, although she lets out more sounds than Gromit, like whimpering.
    • Gromit, too.
  • Cymbal-Banging Monkey: Piella hides one of these in Fluffles' bed in order to trick Gromit.
  • Darker and Edgier: Piella Bakewell is a serial killer who has already murdered twelve bakers, realistically abuses her dog, and in the end, is eaten alive by crocodiles.
  • Death by Recognition: The opening scene is shot from the serial killer's point of view, and the confused target lets out a "You!" Exclamation before he gets cudgeled on the head with a rolling pin and smothered in dough.
  • Destroy the Evidence: The morning after Gromit discovers Piella is the serial killer, he snatches the book of Piella's victims and rushes home with it to show Wallace, then hides the book behind his back when Piella announces she and Wallace are engaged. She then manages to sneak the book out of his hands without Wallace noticing and toss it in the fire.
  • Determined Defeatist: Piella really wants her baker's dozen. She is left furiously attempting to wrestle a customised forklift just to get at Wallace during the climax.
  • Did Not Get the Girl:
    • Piella turns out to be a serial killer, then dies.
    • Averted with Gromit, however.
  • Disney Villain Death: The fate of the serial killer. However, it's not the fall that kills them.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Literally in the case of Fluffles.
  • Dramatic Thunder: Piella's house.
  • Dunking the Bomb: Subverted, as in the Batman: The Movie moment that it's parodying. Gromit tries to throw a bomb into the water, only to see a group of cute little ducks. He ends up smothering it in bread dough instead.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • Wallace chained Gromit up and made him do dishes for biting Piella (which he didn't do; she bit herself to frame him). We never see Wallace apologize for this to Gromit but he doesn't seem to hold the slightest hint of a grudge.
    • Under the theory Wallace never found out that Piella framed him, it could also count as this from his perspective. Gromit is supposedly a vicious animal that attacked his girlfriend, but after scolding him once like a naughty child he treats him as his usual companion.
  • Epiphany Therapy: Fluffles.
  • Evil Laugh: Piella does one when she throws Gromit into the balloon storeroom with Fluffles.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Piella Bakewell suffers a Karmic Death. She tries to fly away in her old Bake-O-Lite balloon, despite her growing too heavy to fly the balloon being the reason she was fired in the first place. Despite Wallace's warnings, she babbles "They can't drop me, I'm the Bake-O-Lite Girl! I'm as light as a feather!" in a bout of delusion... right as she descends into the pit of hungry crocodiles at the zoo that she was rescued from earlier. Being immediately followed by the sounds of Piella being eaten alive, it's genuinely horrifying.
  • Fan Disservice: After a bomb blows off the back of his trousers, we end up seeing Wallace's buttocks.
  • Fat Bitch: Piella's true colours.
  • Flat "What": While not said, the sentiment is still there as the action of the climax grinds to a halt as Fluffles, Piella and Gromit notice the bomb is lodged into Wallace's trousers.
  • Flintstone Theming: The running gag of Gromit's canine-themed library is extended into comic books (Beagle), movie posters (Citizen Canine), and albums by Doggy Osmondnote  ("Puppy Love", what else?) and McFlea.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When the murderer sneaks up on Bob the Baker at the beginning, he at first turns around and lovingly says "Oh-ho, it's you!" A hint that whoever bumped him was anything but a stranger to him...
    • When Piella is explaining to Wallace that the brakes on her bike failed, Gromit pointedly tests said brakes. And they still work.
    • When Wallace asks if Piella is still "ballooning" (as in, riding the "Bake-O-Lite" balloon), she briefly gets upset.
    • While it was ambiguous at first (with Fluffles' constant shaking and Piella prodding her with her foot), two things clearly define how their relationship really is: Fluffles anxiously returning Gromit's items to him while keeping an eye out, and the ratty box and blanket that acts as Fluffles' bed.
  • Forklift Fu: Fluffles at the end, directly parodying Aliens.
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • It is extremely likely that, had Wallace gone himself to return Piella's purse instead of having Gromit do it, he would have died that night.
    • In a similar vein, the only reason why Gromit found out Piella was the "Cereal Killer", and that Wallace was her next victim was because of a flash of lightning exposing the shadow of her dressmaker dummies.
    • With Gromit chained to the kitchen and unable to do anything to prevent Peilla's first attempt at murdering Wallace, the only reason he survives is a stroke of luck when a bag of flour happens to knock Piella down before she can push him into the gears (suggested to be Fluffles's doing).
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Piella murders a baker at the beginning of the movie, the screen cuts to the dough with a thwack heard in the background before the baker's lifeless face falls into the dough, featured in the page image above.
  • Guilt-Ridden Accomplice: Fluffles.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Mostly baking-related.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Gromit.
  • "I Can't Look!" Gesture: Wallace and Fluffles look away during Piella's Karmic Death. In Fluffles's case, she buries her face in Gromit's chest.
  • I Know You Know I Know: After Gromit finds out about her plan to kill Wallace, Piella pointedly makes sure she knows he knows without tipping off Wallace:
    • When Gromit tries to show Wallace the book of Piella's victims, and then tries hiding it behind his back when it turns out Piella is in the room, she scoops up Gromit into a hug before taking the book and subtly tosses it into the fireplace.
    • She makes a point of staring Gromit dead in the eye as she bites her arm in order to incriminate him in Wallace's eyes.
    • Piella explains she can't stay for tea after dropping off the cake by saying (while making sure to lock eyes with Gromit) that "Fluffles isn't feeling too well".
  • Impact Silhouette: Played with: Gromit leaves a dent, not a hole, in Piella's metal paddle after she bats him away with it.
    • Played straight not too long after, when Fluffles accidentally backhands Wallace with the forklift.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Gromit is practically a currant bun sniper.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Wallace asks Piella whether she's "still ballooning", in reference to her old role as the Bake-O-Lite girl, which is doubly insensitive as both an unintentional crack about her weight, and the fact that said weight problem was responsible for killing her career (she was too heavy for the balloon).
  • Intellectual Animal / Speech-Impaired Animal: Gromit and Fluffles, though they both make barely audible whining sounds at points.
  • Just Desserts: Piella winds up as a tasty snack for the crocodiles at the zoo.
  • Karmic Death: Piella.
  • Kick the Dog: A literal, yet surprisingly subtle example. Piella kicks Fluffles twice before her true nature is revealed, yet both times the action could be interpreted as her nudging the poodle to greet Wallace. Of course, Fluffles' downcast personality gives the game away to the audience, but not to Wallace.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: The crocodiles at the zoo did not realize that the tasty treat unexpectedly delivered to them was a serial killer, nor did they care.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Zigzagged. Though Piella is comedic, the nature and intentions of her plans are far more dark than previous antagonists. Add to that she's succeeded in murdering at least twelve innocent people (one of which was onscreen).
  • Little Miss Badass: Fluffles, the female poodle Gromit befriends. Wallace lampshades it:
    Wallace: Great work lad- (sees Fluffles) lass?
  • Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: Locking Gromit in the balloon storeroom.
  • Loud Gulp: Gromit does one at the start when reading about Baker Bob's murder in the newspaper.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Did Piella's soul actually fly off towards the afterlife after dying, or was it just something that Wallace imagined/hallucinated?
  • Metal Detector Checkpoint: Gromit installs one of these (based on a design in "Electronic Surveillance for Dogs") to catch out Piella's murderous intentions toward Wallace. The machine works but fails to convince Wallace.
    • When Piella drops off the bomb-laden cake, the metal detector goes off, but she pointedly pins the blame on the keys in her purse.
  • Mood Whiplash: In no small part due to the darker nature of the antagonist, there is more Black Comedy and the serious moments stand out more than they might do otherwise.
  • Multitasked Conversation: When dropping off the cake as her apology, Piella mentions that she can't stay, since "Fluffles isn't feeling too well". The thing is, when she said that, she locked eyes with Gromit out in the hall.
  • Never My Fault: Piella hates all bakers because she gained too much weight from eating baked goods and lost her job (which required her to be light enough to fly a small hot air balloon) as a result.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Wallace and Gromit ends up saving Piella and Fluffles from a crocodile pit at the zoo. This is also how Piella meets her end, after her balloon sinks.
  • Nice Girl: To further contrast her with her master, Fluffles is very timid but kind. Gromit ends up falling in love with her when she returns his possessions (by picking them out of the trash no less) when Piella throws them away.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Piella leaves her purse behind at Wallace's house. Wallace sends Gromit to return it, which leads to Gromit uncovering the truth about Piella.
  • No Mouth: Gromit, as is tradition. Also, Fluffles except when she bites Piella.
  • Oh, Crap!: Gromit has a lot of them.
    • Three in a row in the same scene. Gromit when he realises Piella is the serial killer, then when he sees Wallace is to be her next victim, and then when he knocks over the dressmaker's dummies seconds later.
    • Gromit again when he hears that Wallace and Piella are engaged. Accentuated with a Vertigo Effect.
    • Gromit has another one a few scenes later. After removing knives and other kitchen implements from the house and locks them in the shed, Gromit hears that the cock-a-leekie soup Piella has prepared for Wallace is "her own special recipe". He reacts with horror and dashes back into the house, thinking the soup is poisoned (we don't find out if it is or not).
    • Baker Bob in the opening scene before being murdered with his own rolling pin.
    • Wallace has one at the beginning when he sees the tube he's sliding down is headed straight for the dough mixer. Luckily for him, Gromit redirects the tube so it leads out of harm's way.
    • Wallace when he sees Piella's bike is heading straight for the zoo's crocodile exhibit.
    • Piella has one when she sees she's about to get a backhand by the baker forklift, which knocks her across the attic.
    • Wallace when the bomb ends up in his trousers.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: While The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was the first time he had even shown anger towards Gromit, this is the only installment in which Wallace is angry enough to outright punish him for (supposedly) hurting Piella.
  • Oop North: Notably, this was the installment that definitively established Wallace and Gromit as being from Lancashire.
  • Palate Propping: While rescuing Piella from the crocodile pit at the zoo, Wallace props open a crocodile's mouth with a French baguette.
  • Parental Bonus: "I have a bomb in my pants!"
  • Parody: Of serial killer movies.
  • Prompting Nudge: One of the first signs that the Big Bad is evil is that their "nudge" to their dog was too hard.
  • Punny Name:
    • Piella Bakewell.
    • "Bake-O-Lite" is a pun on Bakelite, an early type of plastic.
    • Gromit reads a home security manual authored by B.A. Lert.
  • Red Shirt: Baker Bob is offed in his opening scene by being hit in the head with his own rolling pin.
  • Removable Steering Wheel: Wallace and Gromit's van has a steering wheel that can be removed, plugged into the passenger's dashboard and used there.
  • Sanity Slippage: Piella definitely lost her marbles ever since her firing from her job and her weight gain. She only gets worse as the film goes on.
  • Say My Name: Wallace yells Gromit's name when Piella is about to clobber him with a wrench.
  • Serendipitous Survival: Instead of returning Piella's purse to her directly, Wallace sends Gromit instead. He likely saved his own life by doing that, because Piella could easily have killed him and Gromit would have not found out until it was too late.
  • Shrinking Violet: Fluffles.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The bomb scene as a whole parodies a similar scene from Batman.
    • The battle between Fluffles and Piella parodies the climactic duel in Aliens.
    • The scene of Wallace and Piella at a potter's wheel is a parody of the scene from Ghost.
    • As noted above, Piella's "Bake-O-Lite" commercial parodies the 1970s campaign for "Nimble" slimming bread.
    • Baker Bob is named after the film's real-life co-writer... Bob Baker.
    • Gromit has a stuffed toy that greatly resembles Bagpuss.
  • Silent Partner: Gromit, who is also a...
  • Silent Snarker: ...and it's remarkable how expressive he is considering he is always portrayed without a mouth, leaving his eyebrows to convey all of his emotions.
  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: Piella's comeuppance throughout the short is comedic (if in a darkly sort of way later on). Subverted for Fluffles, none of the suffering she takes is Played for Laughs.
  • The Sociopath: Piella Bakewell.
  • Something Else Also Rises: When Wallace and Piella touch, we're treated to a shot of bread rising.
  • Start of Darkness: Piella being forced to do all those promotional stunts with bakers and their confections, utterly destroyed her figure. Her treasured career follows soon after. Now she lives only to exact vengeance on all bakers.
  • Stealth Pun: Amidst all of the other awful, awful baking puns in this film, Piella's engagement ring is a baguette cut.
  • Stop Motion: The way this was produced.
  • Stout Strength: Piella is shown to be able to push back hard enough to severely strain a forklift engine.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: While hinted at prior, the climax shows that Piella really was too fat to ride the Bake-O-Lite balloon anymore, leading directly to her Karmic Death.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Wallace and Fluffles still weep for Piella's death, despite her spending the entire climax trying to murder them in cold blood. Sadly, this is Truth in Television for abuse victims.
  • Take That!: Gromit is trying to dispose of a bomb. He goes to one window—there are cute little ducks in the pond underneath. He goes to another window—nuns collecting charity for kittens. He goes to a third—the Yorkshire border. He prepares to throw.
  • Take the Wheel: Wallace hands the wheel off to his dog while he makes a death-defying leap to save a bread heiress. And when Wallace says it, he means it literally. Apparently that particular incarnation of the ever changing Wallacemobile has a socket for the steering wheel on either side. Hopefully the pedals are replicated on both sides as well...
  • Talking in Your Sleep: Wallace at the beginning, dreaming about eating cheese. He starts talking about something he'd like to wash it down with before being hit in the face with a red water balloon prepared by Gromit to wake him up.
  • A Taste of Their Own Medicine: The first thing Fluffles does in the baker mech is give Piella a hard return backhand for the one she suffered earlier.
  • Tempting Fate: After getting knocking out onto the windmill fan, Wallace tries to reassure Gromit that he's in control of the situation, only to then notice Piella's bomb got caught on the blade across from him.
  • To the Batpole!: Our heroes suit up via a Heath Robinson-esque process, depicted in all its absurd detail.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Cheese, particularly Wensleydale, is Wallace's favorite, but he's also pretty enthusiastic about toast.
  • Vehicular Sabotage: Deliberately invoked. Piella gets together with Wallace after riding a bicycle out of control down a hill. When the duo bring the bike to a halt and rescue her, Gromit is instantly suspicious because the brakes are working fine.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Piella Bakewell apparently loses it after her plot to kill Wallace is foiled. She tries to fly away in the old Bake-O-Lite balloon, despite her growing too heavy to fly the balloon being the reason she was fired in the first place, babbling madly in defiance even as she descends into a pit of hungry crocodiles at the zoo, which is followed by the sound of Piella being eaten alive.
    Piella: I will be back to get you Wallace! I WILL HAVE MY BAKER'S DOZEN!!
    Wallace: But Piella! The balloon won't hold you!
    Piella: (babbling madly) They can't just drop me! I'm as light as a feather! I'm the bake-o lite GIIIIRRLLLL!!!
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The name of the town is never given, but the Yorkshire border is prominently featured in one scene and a poster advertising a performance of Carmen indicates that it's in the vicinity of Wigan.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: Piella Bakewell. Wallace recognizes her as the spokeswoman for Bake-O-Lite Bread, but she was fired as the "Bake-O-Lite Girl" when she became too heavy to fly the balloon they used in advertising.
  • Winged Soul Flies Off at Death: At the end, Wallace sees or imagines a thin Piella as she looked long ago do this.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Piella pulls a quite unnerving one on Gromit, biting her own arm.


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