A Grand Day Out
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (November 2009)|
|A Grand Day Out|
Original USA cover art of the A Grand Day Out VHS.
|Directed by||Nick Park|
|Written by||Nick Park|
|Music by||Julian Nott|
|National Film and Television School
|Running time||23 min|
A Grand Day Out (full name A Grand Day Out with Wallace and Gromit) is a 1990 British stop motion animated short film directed and animated by Nick Park at Aardman Animations in Bristol. In the film, Wallace and Gromit spend a bank holiday by building a homemade rocket to the Moon to sample cheese. It is followed by 1993's The Wrong Trousers, 1995's A Close Shave, 2005's The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and 2008's A Matter of Loaf and Death.
Wallace and Gromit are relaxing at home, wondering where to go on vacation for the upcoming Bank Holiday with so many books and brochures related to travel and tourism. Wallace decides to have some tea and crackers with cheese, but when he opens his fridge he finds an empty plate and no cheese. The local cornershop is closed for the Bank Holiday, so he and Gromit decides to look elsewhere for cheese. While reading a brochure entitled "Cheese Holidays", they decide to go to the Moon since, as Wallace puts it, "everybody knows the moon's made of cheese". He and Gromit start constructing a homemade rocket and finish it in no time. They pack everything they need to go and Wallace lights the fuse to the rocket, but remembers at the last moment he's forgotten the crackers. He grabs them just in time and gets back to the rocket before it blasts off into outer space. During the journey, Wallace uses a camera and takes a photo of Gromit making a house of cards before eating toast which then pops out of the rocket's toaster.
Arriving on the moon, Wallace and Gromit discover that the entire landscape is in fact made of cheese. They set up a picnic and try it out, but are unable to match its flavor to any cheese they know. Looking for a different spot, they encounter "The Cooker", a wheeled, mechanised, coin-operated device that resembles an oven and storage cabinet. Wallace inserts a coin, but nothing happens immediately; only after he and Gromit have left does the Cooker spring to life. When it finds the picnic site, it becomes agitated and gathers up the dirty dishes. Discovering a magazine for ski vacations nearby, it develops a desire to travel to Earth and go skiing. The Cooker then glues a cut spike of cheese back together, issues a parking ticket for the rocket, and becomes annoyed by an oil leak from the craft.
With the telescope in its hands, the Cooker soon notices Wallace who is in another spot with Gromit eating cheese, and finds that he cut another spike of cheese. Aggravated by Wallace's behavior, it tries to sneak up from behind and hit him on the head with a truncheon, only for the money to run out just before it can so that it freezes in place. Wallace notices the Cooker and takes the truncheon as a souvenir, inserting another coin in exchange before he and Gromit return to the rocket. The Cooker comes back to life and realizes that the rocket can take it to Earth, so it chases after the pair. Wallace panics, thinking that the Cooker is angry over the lunar cheese he is trying to take home, and he and Gromit prepare for an emergency takeoff; again, at the last moment, Wallace forgets to light the fuse. Unable to climb the rocket's ladder, the Cooker cuts its way into the fuselage with a can opener and accidentally spills and ignites the fuel supply. The rocket lifts off, throwing the Cooker clear and leaving it with nothing but two strips of metal torn from the fuselage. Initially crushed by its failure to get to Earth, the Cooker soon fashions the strips into a pair of skis. Soon it is happily skiing across the lunar surface, and it waves goodbye to Wallace and Gromit as they were returning home.
Nick Park started creating the film in 1982 as a graduation project for the National Film and Television School. In 1985, Aardman Animations took him on before he finished the piece, allowing him to work on it part-time while still being funded by the school. To make the film, Park wrote to William Harbutt's company, requesting a long ton of plasticine. The block he received had ten colours, one of which was called "stone"; this was used for Gromit. Park wanted to voice Gromit, but he realised the voice he had in mind – that of Peter Hawkins – would have been difficult to animate.
For Wallace, Park offered Peter Sallis £50 to voice the character, and his acceptance greatly surprised the young animator. Park wanted Wallace to have a Lancastrian accent like himself, but Sallis could only do a Yorkshire voice. Inspired by how Sallis drew out the word "cheese", Park chose to give Wallace large cheeks. When Park called Sallis six years later to explain he had completed his film, Sallis swore in surprise.
Gromit was named after grommets, because Park's brother, an electrician, often mentioned them, and Nick Park liked the sound of the word. Wallace was originally a postman named Jerry, but Park felt the name did not match well with Gromit. Park saw an overweight Labrador retriever named Wallace, who belonged to an old woman boarding a bus in Preston. Park commented it was a "funny name, a very northern name to give a dog".
According to the book The World of Wallace and Gromit, original plans were that the film would be 40 minutes long including a sequence where Wallace and Gromit would discover a fast food restaurant on the Moon. Regarding the original plot, Park said:
The original story was that Wallace and Gromit were going to go to the Moon and there were going to be a whole lot of characters there. One of them was a parking meter attendant, which was the only one that remained – the robot cooker character – but there were going to be aliens, and all sorts. There was going to be a McDonalds on the Moon, and it was going to be like a spoof Star Wars. Wallace was going to get thrown into prison and Gromit was going to have to get him out. By the time I came to Aardman, I had just started doing the Moon scene and somebody told me, "It's going to take you another nine years if you do that scene!" so I had to have a check with reality and cut that whole bit out. Somehow, I had to tie up the story on the Moon and finish the film.
Awards and nominations
- Nigel Farndale (18 December 2008). "Wallace and Gromit: one man and his dog". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 18 December 2008.
- Nigel Kendall (20 December 2008). "Nick Park on Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death". The Times (London). Retrieved 26 December 2008.
- Andy Lane (2004). The World of Wallace and Gromit. BoxTree. p. 53. ISBN 9780752215587.
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