The Wrong Trousers (1993) [Short]

UK (MIFF 1994 , Animation Focus - Totally Aardman)
Director: Nick Park

An animated featurette with a live action feel (and one of the most frenetic chase sequences in cinema history!) Aardman's most ambitious production to date seems set to become another animation classic. Having already won the 1994 Oscar for Best Animation, Wallace, the eccentric inventor and Gromit his faithful (and perhaps intellectually superior) companion, are charming the trousers off audiences the world over.

This time round, Wallace and Gromit, equipped with the formidable Technotrousers, (Wallace's latest gadget) are responsible for thwarting a notorious criminal, jewel thief Feathers McGraw, without question the most sinister penguin in screen history.

What we as the audience can't be prepared for is the battery of tricks Nick Park and fellow animator Steve Box have up their sleeves, as they fly through a potted history of cine references - from silent slapstick to the moody lighting and dramatic music of film-noir to suspense of truly Hitchcockian proportions - yes, all in an animated film!

The illusion of authenticity, achieved in all the Aardman plasticine puppets, is here augmented by Nick Park's keen observation of nuances of behaviour and speech in his fellow North countrymen; not to mention the irresistible appeal of a good sight gag.

His intention was "to make a film that I would have loved as a child, and yet could enjoy as an adult equally well and without apology." There's no doubt that he has achieved this.

With its quaint, gently mocking sense of humour and remarkably lifelike animated characters, The Wrong Trousers is unmistakably an Aardman production, clearly representing the climax of the techniques David Sproxton and Peter Lord have been developing over the last 20 years. It's a fitting conclusion to this mid-career retrospective.

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