Best of Aardman Animation

We offer a primer of Aardman’s greatest stop-motion animation hits.

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Gromit's nemesis in "The Wrong Trousers" is villainous penguin Feathers McGraw.
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Gromit's nemesis in "The Wrong Trousers" is villainous penguin Feathers McGraw.
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Photo: courtesy Aardman and Dreamworks
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
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Photo: courtesy Aardman and Dreamworks
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
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Photo: courtesy Aardman and Dreamworks
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
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Photo: courtesy Aardman and Dreamworks
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
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Photo: courtesy Aardman and Dreamworks
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
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Photo: courtesy Aardman and Dreamworks
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
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Photo: courtesy Aardman and Dreamworks
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
The beloved British studio Aardman, acclaimed for its use of stop-motion clay animation and the creation of cheese-adoring odd couple Wallace and Gromit, is about to set sail with another film. Pirates! Band of Misfits hits cinemas April 27; to celebrate, we revisit the clever company’s most smashing moments. THE LOWDOWN
Conceived as a short mockumentary featuring zoo denizens discussing their living conditions, “Comforts” marries animated animals with the voices of real-life Brits talking about their urban existences. The film won the studio its first Oscar, and its success paved the way for both British and American TV spin-offs. Catch the original short on YouTube.

TURN ON THE SUBTITLES?
Most likely. “That I have space! That I have trees! That I don’t have only grass with pollens that gives me hay fever every day!” An emphatic mountain lion explains his idea of paradise,  and young ears might not be able to make sense of his thick Brazilian accent.

CHEESE FACTOR
Though there’s nary a specorino of cheese (or corniness), the show-stealing mountain lion wins the award for best food line: “They try to put you in a nice situation, but with standard food that look [sic] more like dog food than food proper for wild animals.”

INTERSPECIES MINGLING
Polar bears, aardvarks, a gorilla, terrapins and many more live in harmony at the fictional zoo.

THE LOWDOWN
Aardman cemented its cracking-good reputation when Nick Park created the oddball inventor Wallace and his silently heroic pup, Gromit. All four of the shorts starring the beloved pair—“A Close Shave” (1995), “A Grand Day Out” (1989), “The Wrong Trousers” (1993) and “A Matter of Loaf and Death” (2008)—are collected into this American-DVD-friendly set.

TURN ON THE SUBTITLES?
Perhaps. In “A Close Shave,” Wallace suspects Gromit has developed a midnight snacking habit: “Have you been peckish during the night? Someone’s been at me cheese.” Indeed, he uses many phrases employed exclusively by British-English speakers—visuals help with translation.

CHEESE FACTOR
Brie-lliant. From Wensleydale to Monterey Jack, there’s no shortage of references to Wallace’s treat of choice. In “A Grand Day Out,” the pair even construct a rocket for a fromage-tastic journey to
the moon.

INTERSPECIES MINGLING
“A Close Shave” introduces us to cuddly Shaun the Sheep, while “The Wrong Trousers” pits our heroes against a conniving penguin disguised as a chicken.

THE LOWDOWN
In the studio’s first feature-length movie, Rocky the rooster (voiced by a pre-meltdown Mel Gibson) and Ginger the chicken are set on springing friend and fowl from the chicken farm joint.

TURN ON THE SUBTITLES?
Slight chance. Minor characters Fowler the rooster (an elderly war hero) and Mac (a Scottish science geek) are the most difficult to decipher. Case in point: “Back in my RAF days, when the senior officer called for a scramble, you’d hop in the ol’ crate and tally ho. Chocks away!”

CHEESE FACTOR
Rocky’s attempts to get crème fraîche with the ladies provide plenty of cheesy fodder like, “You know what they call me back home? The Lone Free-Ranger.” Rent the film to find out if he winds up Ginger’s beaufort.

INTERSPECIES MINGLING
Cluckers and cock-a-doodle-dooers aside, opportunistic rats Nick and Fetcher provide a freedom assist in exchange for eggs.

THE LOWDOWN
The daffy duo’s first feature film picked up the Oscar for Best Animated Feature for this horror-larious variation on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, set amid a village plagued by a rabbit infestation.

TURN ON THE SUBTITLES?
Nope. But near the film’s end, there’s a cart with a sign that reads “candy floss”—that’s cotton candy across the pond.

CHEESE FACTOR
Very gouda. “I’m just crackers about cheese!” exclaims Wallace. We bet dollars to doughnuts his catchphrase spawns mimicking cheese heads in your household (and we don’t mean Packers fans).

INTERSPECIES MINGLING
Bunnies with adorable buck teeth and pink, pig-style noses are front and center with humans (and Gromit).

THE LOWDOWN
In this spin-off TV series aimed at the pre-K set, young Shaun’s curiosity and humanlike intelligence lead to madcap adventures with his farm friends. Usually, Shaun must resolve some pickle of a problem (just like his canine pal, Gromit, would do).

TURN ON THE SUBTITLES?
A moot point. Shaun and his sheep fam don’t speak, although bleets and sound effects help drive the plot.

CHEESE FACTOR
We have-a-varti for the clueless farmer’s bad toupee and failed attempts at dating. Let’s not forget that it was Shaun and his pals who gobbled up Wallace’s precious cheddar in “A Close Shave.”

INTERSPECIES MINGLING
The theme song says it all: “Shaun the Sheep. He’s Shaun the Sheep. He even mucks about with those who cannot bleet.”

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