Friday, August 26, 2016

And This Blog Loves Aardman Animations

Completing a trifecta that has thus far spotlighted Jay Ward Productions, Bert & Harry Piels ads voiced by Bob & Ray, Tom Terrific, Nudnik, Q.T. Hush and Roger Ramjet, today's tip of a top hat worn by either Jay Ward or Bill Scott goes to (drum roll). . . Aardman Animations!

While this writer often finds current CGI animation - with the exception of those features made by Pixar - a bit too snarky and dialogue-heavy (and lacking the saving grace of Jay Ward Productions/Stan Freberg style witty repartee), the films of Aardman, from their first music videos and short subjects to the latest efforts, delight this lifelong animation fan. That certain indefinable but welcome element of genuine whimsy - a quality not seen at all in the overwhelming majority of American movies and TV shows - delivered with intelligence and nuance, permeates the Aardman films and has since the very beginning.

Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog does not cover much along the lines of 21st century pop culture, but shall make an exception here, given how much we like the Shaun The Sheep movie.

And also the splendid 21st century Aardman Animations features that preceded Shaun The Sheep: Chicken Run and Wallace And Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit (note: have not seen the 2006 Aardman CGI feature Flushed Away).

Nick Park created the dynamic and Wensleydale cheese-fueled duo.

A Grand Day Out, the first Wallace & Gromit adventure, originated as a student film.

Indeed, the very British world of Wallace & Gromit possesses a knack for hitting this animation buff's sweet spot every time. We at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog are not alone in this assessment, as Wallace & Gromit have their own YouTube channel.


Aardman Animations was founded in the 1970's, made their reputation as creators of wonderful short subjects and commercials in the 1980's. Many of us first encountered the model animation of Aardman in the 1986 Peter Gabriel music video Sledgehammer.

Not long afterwards, in such touring feature-length compilations as The Tournee Of Animation and Spike And Mike's Festival Of Animation, the Aardman Animations short subjects would premiere on the big screen in America. Audiences went nuts over the good humor, invention and, most importantly, the whimsy in such Aardman productions as Creature Comforts.

Subsequently, the first Wallace & Gromit adventures would be on the Tournee and Spike & Mike programs - and frequently were the runaway hits.

Ranking high on the short list of this writer's all-time favorite films is Wallace & Gromit in The Wrong Trousers.

The followup, A Close Shave, would introduce another Aardman Animations stalwart, Shaun The Sheep.

The three short subjects, A Grand Day Out (1989), The Wrong Trousers (1993) and A Close Shave (1995), were followed by a TV series, Cracking Contraptions, the Curse Of The Were-Rabbit feature, the featurette A Matter Of Loaf & Death and the Wallace & Gromit's World Of Invention TV series.

The studio has survived much hardship, including a fire in the Aardman Animations warehouse, to re-emerge, most recently with the Shaun the Sheep movie. After the October 10, 2005 fire, the hope was that the company would eventually be able to return from the damage. The blaze wiped out just about all the original sets for the Wallace and Gromit films and panels of original storyboards.

The studio made it back from this adversity, rebuilt and would launch the Shaun The Sheep TV series, as well as the children's show Timmy Time.

Wallace & Gromit returned to the big screen with the half-hour short subject, A Matter Of Loaf & Death (2008).

These would be followed by Wallace & Gromit amusement park rides, video games, an association with The National Trust and TV commercials.

We close with behind-the-scenes clips direct from Aardman Animations - and, last but not least, a cracking good concert from The Royal Albert Hall paying tribute to our heroes.

To paraphrase Wallace, "cracking good cheese - Gromit!"

No comments: