The big difference here is that Aardman maintain a uniquely and beautifully British sensibility to their work and humour, causing them to remain entirely beloved on these fair Isles, despite repeated, consistent success across the pond.
Oscars have been lavished on the work of Nick Park and his cohorts, with four Oscar wins and two further nominations, with Nick Park up against himself for the 1989 Best Animated Short award with Creature Comforts and A Grand Day Out both on the shortlist.
With their recent success Shaun the Sheep: The Movie enjoying the predictably lavish critical praise (the only time Aardman has suffered with the critics has been on the occasion of the solitary ill-advised move away from stop-frame animation for Flushed Away), let us once again revel in the unmistakable and unmatched humour, excitement and inventiveness of some of Aardman’s finest moments.
1. Curse of the Were-Rabbit – The Aeroplane Chase
Rightly rewarded with an Oscar for best animated feature, Curse of the Were-Rabbit was the first (and so far only) time that Wallace & Gromit made the move from animated shorts to feature-length escapades. What an astonishing success it was.
Instantly dispelled were any lingering concerns that the laughs and creativity could not be sustained over a necessarily longer narrative. All of the elements that made the previous adventures of Wallace & Gromit so appealing remained in place; silliness, sensational visual gags, breath-taking action sequences and lots of references to cheese.
Bigger and quieter moments charmed and thrilled equally, but the stand-out sequence is a chase that takes place at the village fair – fairground ride aeroplanes suddenly take flight, still needing to be fed by coins, the ever-taciturn Gromit abounds in quick-thinking invention and the villainous dog eventually loses out to the hero.
As with Aardman’s best moments, there are loads of small details that you only note on repeat viewings and the background gags just keep on giving. References to a full moon and knowing but clever nods to the likes of King Kong all add up to something very special.