Aardman Animations is one of my favourite film companies. They’ve barely missed in a 45-year history filled with unequivocal hits. The likes of Morph, Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the Sheep have ensured that Aardman hold a place in any British persons heart. I have been completely enamoured with the Bristol based company ever since I laid my eyes on Wallace & Gromit: A Grand Day Out when I was a wee lad. The quirky, low-key humour and awesome animation from all of Aardman’s work is a joy. I’ve been such a fan of Aardman over the years, that I wrote my 30-page dissertation on the company back in my university days.
Theirs is a brand of humour that can alienate and promote British cinema to the outside world. As such, the company has struggled to become a hit in the USA, despite the success of Chicken Run (their first feature film). The releases of Flushed Away, Arthur Christmas and Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit didn’t build upon what Chicken Run did for them in the US, or anything since then. Indeed, Aardman’s famous partnership with Dreamworks didn’t prove all that successful and ended sooner than it should have done. Aardman’s partnership with Sony Pictures didn’t prove too fruitful either, but as of now, they are working with Studio Canal and have so far released Shaun the Sheep Movie to good success (especially considering the film’s relatively low-budget). Next year will see Aardman release their latest (and much-anticipated) stop-motion feature film and second under Studio Canal – Early Man.
Starring the voice talents of Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, Maisie Williams and Timothy Spall, this Nick Park helmed film (his first since 2008) is set to be a great film based on Aardman’s and Park’s past successes. Aardman and Studio Canal are hedging their bets on the film being a success, handing it a reported $50 million budget. I have no doubts over Early Man’s quality, and I hope that it does well for Aardman when it releases early next year. Recently announced was Shaun the Sheep Movie 2. The first film was pretty good, but not on the same level as their best. I understand why they’re making a sequel to it, as it did performed particularly well for its lower budget, but I would have preferred if they focussed instead on a new Wallace & Gromit film.
We haven’t been treated to a Wallace & Gromit film since 2008’s A Matter of Loaf and Death. It’s been far too long since we last saw Wallace & Gromit. A new Wallace & Gromit short film would be excellent, but I think they should get another crack at the big screen. Curse of the Were-Rabbit is one of the finest films to have ever come from our shores (along with the utterly magnificent Chicken Run), and it would be brilliant to see them bring the traditional odd couple back. I’d have no idea on any kind of plot, anything I’d suggest would be terrible in comparison to what Aardman would come up with. It’s sad that we won’t ever see Peter Sallis return to the role of Wallace (he is 96 now), but the clay man is in fine hands with Ben Whitehead, who has provided Wallace’s voice in a number of smaller projects admirably.
I think the world deserves to spend one more evening with Wallace & Gromit. The quirky, clever and family friendly humour could be the perfect antidote for what’s becoming a more and more divisive time. It could be about anything (as long as some reference to cheese is made) and I would love it. If Aardman went on to bring Wallace & Gromit back after Shaun the Sheep Movie 2 they could go on and win yet another Academy Award (if they don’t with Early Man next year). I can’t see anything they ever make being better than Chicken Run or Curse of the Were-Rabbit, but a new Wallace & Gromit movie could be. Can a film get 101% on Rotten Tomatoes?