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Wallace and Gromit: Three Amazing Adventures - animated DVD / children's and family DVD / comedy DVD review
Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 5 stars
Actors: Peter Sallis, Anne Reid
Director: Nick Park   Distributor: Lyons/Hit Entertainment
DVD release: 04 December 2007   Feature runtime: 190 minutes
(1 disc)
Format: Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Audio tracks (English, Dolby Digital Stereo), Subtitles (English), A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers, A Close Shave, "The Amazing Adventures of Wallace & Gromit," "Inside the Wrong Trousers," "A Close Shave - How it was Done," Cracking Contraptions, Shaun the Sheep (Bathtime, Off the Baa), W&G Scrapbook w/ blueprints of inventions and photo gallery, optional audio commentary by Nick Park & creative team on all three films

This best edition so far of the first three collected Wallace and Gromit films (A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers, and A Close Shave) will satisfy both longtime W&G fans and those whose first exposure to the ever-intrepid, always funny animated man-and-dog duo was the North American wide release of the feature-length Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

Soft-spoken creator/writer/director Nick Park of Aardman Animations says in "The Amazing Adventures of Wallace & Gromit" featurette that the appeal of his most successful and popular clay creations lies in their essential Britishness, the subtlety and underplayed humor, combined with bold animation. Fans around the world, from Japan to Australia, cite the expressive humanity of the characters (yes, even Gromit).

As evidenced by many testimonials (including the experiences of my own family and another family with whom we are close friends), the age appeal is broad, beloved by toddlers, their parents, and family members in between. The strength of the enterprise's influence in its native England has expressed itself in surprising ways, most notably in the real-life resurgence in popularity (even rescue) of Wensleydale cheese, which as fans well know is Wallace's favorite snack.

The first time I saw A Close Shave on PBS in the early '90s, I laughed myself into apoplexy at the conveyor belt scene near the story's end, and at the acrobatic-tower-of-sheep-on-a-motorbike bit. The understated genius of the first three films (and of the original Creature Comforts) has netted Park and Aardman three Academy Awards so far, and it's difficult not to imagine more Oscars in their future. Shaun the Sheep, introduced in a scene-stealing debut in A Close Shave, earned his own successful spinoff; two of those episodes are included here as well.

The optional commentaries by Nick Park and his creative team accompanying the first three adventures and the bonus featurettes open a wide window onto the origins and evolution of Wallace and Gromit as characters, of the evermore impressive smoothness of the animation, and of the increasingly sophisticated narratives they play out. For both diehard admirers and newer fanciers of the somewhat dimwitted but well-meaning inventor and his perceptive canine friend, Wallace and Gromit: Three Amazing Adventures is in no danger of collecting dust on the DVD shelf.

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reviewed by Sharon Schulz-Elsing
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