A Grand Day Out
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (November 2009)|
|A Grand Day Out|
DVD Cover art of A Grand Day Out
|Directed by||Nick Park|
|Written by||Nick Park|
|Music by||Julian Nott|
|Studio||National Film and Television School
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (US home video)
Hit Entertainment (later US rights)
|Running time||24 min|
A Grand Day Out (full name A Grand Day Out with Wallace and Gromit) is an award-nominated 1989 comedy clay animation science-fiction 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 rocket to the Moon to sample some cheese.
One night, Wallace and Gromit are relaxing in the living-room pondering where to go for the upcoming bank holiday. Wallace gets up to prepare tea with cheese and crackers, only to discover they are out of cheese. Wallace suggests they should go somewhere where there is plenty of cheese. After browsing possible destinations (including Lancashire, Cheddar, Wensleydale, Philadelphia and Tescos), they ultimately choose to go to the Moon, since "everybody knows the moon's made of cheese." The two build a moon rocket in their basement, complete with easy chairs and a wallpapered cabin. Once the two complete packing provisions for the journey, Wallace lights the rocket's fuse. With only a minute in the countdown, he realizes that they have forgotten to pack crackers. He rushes out of the rocket and hurries up to the kitchen to get crackers, making it back to the rocket in time before the engine ignites. Even with the engine running, the rocket refuses to lift off (the mice in the basement are watching the whole thing and with the fire coming from the rocket they put on different colours of sunglasses to protect their eyes). Gromit realizes he has forgotten to release the hand brake and does so, allowing the rocket to lift off.
Upon reaching the moon, which indeed turns out to be made of cheese, Wallace and Gromit set up a picnic. They try out the lunar cheese, trying to determine what kind it is, but realize it's like nothing they've ever tasted before. They decide to try another spot, where they find a mechanised storage facility, with a strong resemblance to an oven, called "the Cooker". Wallace puts a coin into the machine, but nothing happens (he accidentally pulls a dial off while trying to get it to activate), so he and Gromit continue on their way. Once they’ve left, the Cooker springs to life with two robotic arms springing out from both sides of it. It discovers Wallace and Gromit’s picnic site; agitated by the mess, it cleans up the mess of dirty dishes. It then discovers a magazine advertising skiing holidays lying on the picnic blanket, and develops a desire to travel to Earth and go skiing. After putting a moon cheese spike Wallace and Gromit had sampled earlier back together with glue, it then spots their rocket and is amazed by it. It gives them a parking ticket and is annoyed by an oil leak.
Shortly afterwards, the Cooker notices Wallace. Aggravated by his littering, illegally-parked and leaking rocket, and uncontrollable consumption of moon cheese, the Cooker sneaks up behind Wallace to bludgeon him with a truncheon. Just as Gromit notices the machine, it runs out of money and shuts down. The previously-oblivious Wallace notices the Cooker, decides to take the truncheon as a souvenir, and inserts another coin into the Cooker in exchange for the truncheon. As Wallace and Gromit leave for the rocket, the Cooker comes back to life. Realizing the rocket can take it to Earth where it can fulfill its dream of skiing, the machine chases after Wallace and Gromit, who, noticing the Cooker and thinking that it's angry with them for taking a large basket of lunar cheese, prepare for an emergency takeoff. At the same time, the Cooker breaks into the rocket with a tin cutter (it could not climb up the ladder from a lack of legs). Blundering about in the dark interior of the rocket's engine room (even knocking a pipe out of its place), the Cooker lights a match near the fuel tank (at which point, Wallace realizes Gromit forgot to light the fuse), causing an explosion. The Cooker tries to hang on, but eventually is thrown across the lunar surface as the rocket launches, ripping off two strips of metal from the rocket. Initially crushed by its failure to get to Earth, the Cooker realizes it can use the metal strips as a pair of skis. While happily skiing on the lunar surface, the Cooker waves goodbye to Wallace and Gromit, who return 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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