Movie Reviews

Every Wallace & Gromit Movie Ranked From Worst To Best

Summary

  • Wallace and Gromit films showcase hand-crafted universes with wacky inventions, balancing atmosphere and comedy perfectly.
  • Aardman’s stop-motion animation achievements are evident in the awards won by Park’s work and the films’ continued appeal.
  • The upcoming Wallace and Gromit movie in 2024, “Vengeance Most Foul,” marks the return of Feathers McGraw as a villain.



The best Wallace and Gromit movies started with A Grand Day Out in 1989, created by then-student Nick Park. Cheese-enthusiast Wallace (voiced by the late Peter Sallis) and his dog, Gromit, have appeared in four short films and one feature, with a new feature movie coming from stop-motion powerhouse Aardman Animations in 2024. The plots of these films tend to revolve around Wallace and Gromit trying their hand at various occupations, aided (and regularly hindered) by Wallace’s wacky inventions, and being intruded upon by sinister forces.

Often described as “quintessentially British,” Park’s work has won numerous awards, including an Oscar, and aided the continued appeal of stop-motion animation. The Wallace and Gromit films are the height of artistic achievement, presenting a hand-crafted universe wherein you can see the animators’ fingerprints on every frame, and tell tongue-in-cheek genre tales that perfectly balance atmosphere and comedy like little else. While there has only been one Wallace and Gromit feature-length film, their shorts are also worthy of praise.


Related

Every Aardman Animation Film, Ranked From Worst To Best

Aardman Animation has a fantastic array of stop-motion films on its resume, with several having earned gold status with critics and audiences alike.


A Close Shave (1995)

Wallace & Gromit Meet Shaun the Sheep

Wallace and Gromit: A Close Shave title card.

The third Wallace and Gromit short film, A Close Shave, sees the duo running a window cleaning business. While Wallace begins a romance with Wendolene, the owner of a local wool shop (voiced by Anne Reid), Gromit investigates a sheep-rustling spree. This leads to his wrongful imprisonment, as he’s framed for the very crime he was trying to unearth. Famed for introducing Shaun the Sheep, A Close Shave is solid, though Wallace’s romantic subplot does feel a little inconsequential.


As is often the case, this is Gromit’s story and the scenes with him in prison are very moving, yet the short film still maintains a high joke ratio. It’s inventive stuff, for sure, but feels a little cluttered in its execution, with one too many story elements for its relatively short runtime. That said, the film is still a massive accomplishment with a tense finale and some dramatic reveals. Winning an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1995, A Close Shave led to a successful spin-off franchise starring Shaun the Sheep.

A Matter Of Loaf and Death (2008)

A Murder Mystery With A Serial Killer Murdering Bakers

Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death title card.


The fifth Wallace and Gromit movie is another short called A Matter of Loaf and Death. Released in 2008, this is a murder mystery that sees Wallace and Gromit running a bakery. With the unsettling news that a number of local bakers have disappeared, Gromit investigates while Wallace begins a dubious romance with Piella Bakewell (Sally Lindsay), a former pin-up girl for the Bake-o-Lite bread company. Gromit also has a love interest this time around: Piella’s put-upon poodle, Fluffles, who proves a worthy addition.

A Matter of Loaf and Death might be the darkest of the series, with a literal murder plot at its center. Ever the cinephile, Park included references to Blood and Black Lace, Psycho, and even riffs on Aliens and the Adam West Batman flick. Tonally, A Matter of Loaf and Death is reminiscent of the Ealing comedies —a string of post-war movies, fondly remembered for their dark humor and British sensibility. Piella feels like an Ealing villain, with her appearance betraying sinister motives. What’s more, her romance with Wallace is crucial to the story, and part of its darker aspirations.


A Grand Day Out (1989)

Wallace & Gromit Go To The Moon For Cheese

Wallace and Gromit: A Grand Day Out title card.

The first Wallace and Gromit short film, A Grand Day Out, might seem a little primitive in comparison to the rest of the series, but that only adds to its charm. Starting production when Nick Park was still a student, A Grand Day Out sees Wallace and Gromit traveling to the Moon in search of cheese, building a rocket, and encountering a strange, coin-operated robot. Despite its visual inconsistencies with the rest of the Wallace and Gromit canon, the film has Park’s trademark style, inspired by The Beano and various Tintin cartoons.


Its rough-around-the-edges appeal is largely due to its shoestring budget. Park literally glued split peas and lentils onto his rocket model to simulate rivets. The whole thing is incredibly atmospheric, making up for its lower joke rate than the other films. While Wallace and Gromit appear almost fully formed, complete with Peter Sallis’ iconic vocal performance, the coin-operated robot steals the show.

This movie showcases Park’s knack for silent comedy straight out of the gate and his ability to imbue nearly featureless characters with an incredible amount of personality. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1990, A Grand Day Out lost to Park’s other film, Creature Comforts. If his talent wasn’t evident before, let this be the tipping point.

The Wrong Trousers (1993)

Feathers McGraw Recruits Wallace & Gromit To Steal A Diamond

Wallace and Gromit: The Wrong Trousers title card.


The second Wallace and Gromit short film, The Wrong Trousers, is one of the best entries in the series, and for good reason. Following the success of A Grand Day Out, with a bigger budget and more animators at his disposal, Park threw everything into The Wrong Trousers, refining his aesthetic and introducing a strong action element to the series that has continued in every subsequent production.

Low on cash, Wallace rents out his spare room to Feathers McGraw, a sinister penguin with his beady eyes on Wallace’s latest invention: a pair of robotic trousers designed to walk Gromit so that Wallace doesn’t have to. Ever the detective, Gromit smells something fishy and, despite being driven from his home, works to uncover Feathers’ dastardly scheme. This culminates in the mother of all chase scenes, which is regarded among many as one of the best-animated action set pieces of all time.


Feathers McGraw is an iconic villain, unsettling from the get-go, despite his milk-bottle appearance and limited expression. Hitchcock’s influence is, once again, evident with The Wrong Trousers playing like an atmospheric thriller, but the jokes come thick and fast — an improvement over its predecessor. Winning an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1994, The Wrong Trousers is among the best that the medium has to offer, no question about it.

The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)

Wallace & Gromit In A Comedy Horror Masterpiece


After making his feature film debut with Chicken Run in 2000, Nick Park felt ready to bring Wallace and Gromit to the big screen, and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit arrived in 2005 to critical acclaim and box-office success. A co-production between Aardman and Dreamworks, Wallace and Gromit’s transition from short films to full-length features was incredibly smooth. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit sees the duo running a successful pest-control business, ridding their town of rabbits by re-housing them.

When one of Wallace’s inventions backfires, the titular Were-Rabbit begins to ravage local vegetable plots. As usual, it’s up to Gromit to save the day and uncover the mysterious culprit, lest the annual giant vegetable competition fall into ruin. Meanwhile, Wallace becomes infatuated with Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter), an aristocrat and the competition’s host, but comes under fire from a rival suitor, Victor Quartermaine (Ralph Fiennes).


The Curse of the Were-Rabbit expands the series’ universe by featuring a more extensive cast of “human” characters than is typical in a Wallace and Gromit film. It also understands the inherent differences between a feature and a short. While The Wrong Trousers is the best of the short films, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit presented a challenge, and the team at Aardman knocked it out of the park. And their efforts were recognized when the film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

Wallace and Gromit Academy Award Wins & Nominations

Title

Release Year

Academy Award

A Grand Day Out

1990

Nominated for Best Animated Short Film (lost to Creature Comforts)

The Wrong Trousers

1993

Won Best Animated Short Film

A Close Shave

1995

Won Best Animated Short Film

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

2005

Won Best Animated Feature

A Matter of Loaf and Death

2008

Nominated for Best Animated Short Film (lost to Logorama)


The Wallace & Gromit Short Films

Wallace and Gromit on the Moon in A Grand Day Out

With Wallace and Gromit‘s popularity, it’s hard to believe there has only been one feature-length movie based on the characters, as the other four movies were all short films. Despite that, they received the Oscars’ attention, making Aardman Animations a worldwide powerhouse. When Nick Park joined the studio in 1985, Aardman Animations had been around for 13 years. Park started making his A Grand Day Out while studying at the National Film and Television School, and a short film was the best way to begin his career.


With Park in the company, he kept working on Wallace and Gromit shorts and another short film called Creature Comforts, which won an Oscar. Park also introduced Shaun the Sheep into the Wallace and Gromit world in A Close Shave, and then that character received a long-running TV series and two movies. However, when it comes to Park’s work, Wallace and Gromit remains the gold standard, thanks to just four short films and one theatrically released movie.

The Next Wallace & Gromit Movie

Feathers McGraw gets arrested in Wallace & Gromit: Vengeance Most Fowl
Image via BBC

It’s been 19 long years since Aardman Studios released the only feature-length Wallace & Gromit movie, but at long last, the second will be released on Netflix in 2024. This movie is called Wallace & Gromit: Vengeance Most Foul, and there are two important things to know about the release. First, this will be the first Wallace and Gromit movie without Peter Sallis voicing Wallace. Sallis died in 2017, and Ben Whitehead will replace him in the cast. Second, the movie will bring back a villain from the short film The Wrong Trousers.


Feathers McGraw was the villain in the 1993 short film, and he was trying to get Wallace and Gromit to help him steal a diamond. This time around, Wallace invents a “smart gnome” that develops an evil personality, and it seems that Feathers McGraw, the dastardly penguin, is to blame. As usual with these movies, it is up to Gromit to save the day and get his buddy Wallace out of trouble. The voice cast for the new Wallace and Gromit movie remains unknown, other than Whitehead and Peter Kay as the Chief Inspector.

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