When I was growing up, our family had a three-VHS set of the original Wallace and Gromit shorts, and while “Wallace and Gromit fan” was never at the forefront of my identity, I have always loved The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave. Naturally, things that I loved as a kid are near the top of my list of things to introduce to kiddo. I showed them to her a couple of years ago—probably near the beginning of the pandemic—but she had no memory of them, so this weekend, I had the pleasure of reintroducing her to the series. Between Friday and Sunday, we watched all four of the shorts, starting with The Wrong Trousers, then A Close Shave, A Grand Day Out, and A Matter of Loaf and Death.
I think I have the fondest memories of The Wrong Trousers, which is why we started there. There are so many good bits in there, and the train chase scene has imprinted enough on my memory that once while playing Minecraft with a sibling, I bemoaned that it wasn’t possible to build a minecart track in the way that Gromit builds the model railroad here:
That said, after watching A Close Shave, I think I have to admit that it’s technically superior and therefore squeaks ahead in my rankings. It’s also absurd in all the right ways, and the jokes are just as good, so as much as Feathers McGraw will always have a special place in my heart, I think this one has to take the lead. I certainly never paid attention to the technical aspects of making these shorts when I was growing up, and while I still don’t instinctively think about how cinema or television gets made, it’s a lot more on my mind now. However, if A Matter of Loaf and Death shows even more technical improvement—and has some good gags—I find that I like it even less than A Grand Day Out, my traditional least favorite. It plays too much with misogynist and fatphobic tropes for me to feel good about enjoying it.
Kiddo laughed her head off as we were watching. One of her favorite bits is also one of my favorite memories—the chase scene from A Close Shave. I got a kick out of how absurd she found Gromit’s air-worthy sidecar: “Did he have those wings just in case something like this happened?”
I’m betting Wallace and Gromit will stick with her more this time through. I’ll probably watch Curse of the Were-Rabbit with her at some point (fun fact, I learned the French expression for were-animal after a high school visit to Paris when I saw posters for this movie in the métro), and there are some other shorts that even I’ve never seen. When Netflix’s Wallace and Gromit movie comes out in a couple of years, I’m sure we’ll get a kick out of watching it together.
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