One thing that is really interesting in the Wallace and Gromit films is that they are filled with puns. But Gromit is not fond of them. He is forever rolling his eyes at Wallace’s lame attempts at humor. For example, in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, they come to Tottington Hall to find the place overrun with rabbits. Wallace says, “They must be breeding like, well, rabbits.” So it is interesting that so many puns should circle around Gromit’s life — specifically, his tastes in books, music, and film.
There isn’t much of this in A Grand Day Out, except for “Electronics for Dogs.” But then, that film has always seemed rather like a proof of concept. Other than the skiing obsessed machine on the moon, I’m not that fond of it. It is really with The Wrong Trousers that the Aardman folk really get going with fully decorated sets — including walls and bookshelves. (Fun fact: Gromit’s birthday in 12 February!) While sleeping downstairs to get away from Feathers McGraw’s loud music, Gromit was reading The Republic by Pluto — which he is reading at breakfast the following morning. In his dog house, there are four books on the shelf: Kennels, Poodles, Sticks, and Sheep II.
In A Close Shave, we see Gromit in jail reading Crime and Punishment by Fido Dogstoyevsky. In A Matter of Loaf and Death there is much more. While Wallace and Piella are doing their Ghost thing downstairs, Gromit tries to sleep upstairs in his bedroom where we see a movie poster for Citizen Canine and a record album on the floor of “Poochini.” Later, when Fluffles returns Gromit’s stuff, we see the records “Puppy Love” by Doggy Osmond and a “McFlea” album. After discovering that Piella is a serial killer, he consults, Electronic Surveillance for Dogs.
Probably the best single run of puns is found in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Gromit has put Wallace on a diet — all vegetables. Wallace goes looking for some hidden cheese, on the bookcase. And the books are:
- The Hunt for Red Leicester
- Brighton Roquefort
- How Green Was My Cheese
- Brie Encounter
- Swiss Cheese Family Robinson
- East of Edam
- Grated Expectations
- Fromage to Eternity
- Waiting for Gouda.
That last one is my favorite. And the list is a pretty good run of cheese puns. Later, Gromit plays The Plant Suite for his watermelon. Toward the end of the film, Gromit and the evil dog Philip end up in airplanes taken from a carnival ride “Dog Fight.” It’s all quite wonderful.
I’m sure that I’ve missed a whole lot of things. If anyone would like to point out things that I’ve missed, I would welcome hearing about them. One of the great things about the Aardman productions is how rich they are. Animation has the advantage (from the viewer’s standpoint) that everything has to be created from scratch, so great creativity goes into the productions. For example, I had seen The Wrong Trousers many times before I noticed that The Republic was written by Pluto instead of Plato. I love this kind of stuff — and there isn’t nearly enough of it.