A short Claymation movie by Aardman Animations, directed by Nick Park.
Run time: 23 minutes
Main characters: Wallace and Gromit
Other contributions: Peter Sallis (voice of Wallace)
This is the (hilarious) movie that introduced the world to Wallace and Gromit. It was also Park's graduation project from the UK's National Film and Television School. However, it took so long to create, and the school initially lacked the right cameras and other technology, that Park finished it in his spare time, while being paid by Aardman. Park started the movie in 1982 and did not finish it until 1989.
There have been three (so far) animated shorts to feature the pair: A Grand Day Out The Wrong trousers and A Close Shave. All have used the claymation technique in which plasticine models are used to portray the characters, and the movie is filmed one frame at a time, with the clay models being moved slightly between each frame. Classic, traditional stop-motion animation.
A Grand Day Out is the only Wallace and Gromit movie which did not win an Oscar. It was nominated in 1990 for Best animated short film, but failed to win. The winner that year was Creature Comforts, also a claymation movie, also filmed by Aardman Animation and also directed by Nick Park. Creature Comforts was the first such movie short (seen by the public) to take the voices of ordinary people, and animate the faces and expressions of claymation characters to caricature their meanings. However, Park originated the technique on A Grand Day Out, which he began many years earlier. In A Grand Day Out, he scripted the movie (together with co-writer Steve Rushton), rather than interviewing members of the public, as was the case with Creature Comforts. British actor Peter Sallis spoke the words. The Wallace character is made to fit perfectly with Sallis' gentle, dry Yorkshire accent.
Wallace is a Yorkshire man who loves cheese (mostly Wensleydale) and thinks up weird and wonderful ideas. He has a pet dog, Gromit, who loves cheese (also Wensleydale) but Gromit is the one who has the task of building Wallace's ideas in the cellar of their house at 62 West Wallaby Street.
Just to underline this, Wallace likes to read Cheese monthly, while Gromit prefers Electronics for Dogs (Thanks to Stavr0)
While the Gromit character remains silent throughout the movie, it is clear that the dog is the more intelligent of the pair, even though he excels at playing the role of 'Man's best friend'. Gromit allows Wallace to think he is charge throughout the movie, even though Gromit is the brains and the energy behind the adventure.
Gromit communicates with the viewer through brilliantly executed expressions in his eyes, face and general stance. This is one of the most outstanding elements of the movie: the way Park makes the Gromit character come alive through his wonderfully expressive body language.
Plot (Erm, yes, spoilers in here)
It is a very English type of film. Wallace, wearing his trademark green knitted cardigan is discussing with Gromit where to go on their annual holiday. During their debate, they go to get a snack only to discover that the cupboard is bare of cheese. This being England, all the shops are shut, so they have to find a location which offers plenty of cheese to eat. They look in the brochure from Cheese Holidays.
Wallace: "Gromit, that's it! Cheese! We'll go somewhere where there's cheese!"
The moon, of course, is reputed to be made of green cheese and that becomes their destination. Gromit builds a rocket to Wallace's design and they blast off, remembering to bring the crackers along to complement the cheese. Gromit successfully navigates them to the moon where they sample the cheesey surface. "Like no cheese I've ever tasted, lad" says Wallace.
During their tour, they find a mechanical thingy. It looks like some kind of kitchen appliance--maybe a fridge, or a cooker or stove. They put a coin in the slot, but nothing happens and they continue their tour. The thingy wakes up, turns out to be some kind of moon-cheese guardian, and starts chasing the terrestrials for defacing the moon during their cheese-eating exploits.
The mechanical sees a programme about ski-ing on the TV within Wallace and Gromit's rocket, and feels sad that it will never be able to try this exciting sport.
Eventually, the machine catches up with our heroes, but they escape in the nick of time, only to see the machine tear some strips of metal off their rocket ship.
It all ends happily, of course: W & G get back to earth, while the machine uses the metal strips as skis, to slalom down the sides of the moon mountains.
Oh heck, just watch it and laugh!