The Wrong Trousers
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|Wallace and Gromit in The Wrong Trousers|
Promotional poster, with Feathers McGraw in the foreground
|Directed by||Nick Park|
|Produced by||Christopher Moll|
|Written by||Nick Park
|Music by||Julian Nott|
Dave Alex Riddett
|Edited by||Helen Garrard|
|Distributed by||BBC (UK, TV)
PBS (USA, TV)
|30 minutes (NTSC)
29 minutes (PAL)
The Wrong Trousers is a 1993 stop motion animated short film directed by Nick Park at Aardman Animations, featuring his characters Wallace and Gromit. It was his second half hour short featuring the eccentric inventor Wallace (voiced by Peter Sallis) and his silent but intelligent dog Gromit, following 1989's A Grand Day Out, and preceding 1995's A Close Shave.
As in A Grand Day Out, the thirty minute film uses sight gags and exaggerated physical comedy and quiet moments, as well as a few subtle film parodies. The film premièred in the United States on 17 December 1993, and the United Kingdom on 26 December 1993, Boxing Day. It won the 1993 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
It was highly successful, and inspired a charity fundraising day, known as "Wrong Trousers Day", one of several events organised by the charity "Wallace and Gromit's Children's Charity". Wrong Trousers Day falls on the last Friday in June every year. During the day, participants wear the wrong trousers to work or school etc. and donate a pound to help sick children in hospitals and hospices. A sequel, A Close Shave was released in December of 1995.
The film begins at 62 West Wallaby Street on Gromit's birthday at breakfast. After being tipped out of bed and dressed using several mechanical contraptions, Wallace is greeted with a large pile of overdue bills. Wallace remembers Gromit's birthday and presents Gromit with a pair of “ex NASA” robotic "Techno Trousers", acquired by Wallace to alleviate the burden of taking Gromit for walks. While Gromit is out on a "walk", Wallace realises they are in financial difficulty and decides to let the spare bedroom out.
He is answered by an inscrutable looking penguin named Feathers McGraw. The penguin comes to stay at the house, pushing Gromit out of his comfortable bedroom, into the spare bedroom and keeping him awake at night with loud steam organ music, much to Gromit's irritation. On the other hand, Wallace takes a liking to him. Feathers also takes an interest in the Techno Trousers after seeing Gromit use their suction feet to walk on the ceiling while decorating the spare bedroom. Distressed that Feathers has barged in on his relationship with his master, Gromit packs up his belongings and leaves home. After watching Gromit leave, Feathers secretly modifies the Techno Trousers for his own use. He removes the controls on the trousers and adapts them into a remote control.
The next morning, Gromit hunts for suitable lodgings. He notices a wanted poster offering a reward for the capture of a "chicken" – actually a criminal penguin who disguises himself by wearing a rubber glove on his head. Meanwhile, Wallace's normal morning routine is interrupted when his expected trousers are replaced with the modified Techno Trousers.
Trapped inside the "wrong trousers", Wallace is marched out of the house and sent running around town on an extended test run, unaware that Feathers is controlling them. Gromit witnesses this spectacle and later spies on Feathers as he measures up the exterior of the city museum. He returns home and uncovers Feathers' plans to steal a large diamond from the museum.
However, Feathers returns and Gromit is forced to hide. He watches as Feathers arrives dressed in the "chicken disguise". In a deep sleep after the day's misadventures, Wallace is unwittingly brought into the robbery by Feathers. Feathers marches him out of the house to the museum and uses the trousers' suction feet to climb up the building. The penguin controls the trousers from a window sill, while Wallace enters the building through a roof air vent and walks across the ceiling to the room with the diamond, narrowly avoiding the laser burglar alarm system.
The helmet Wallace is wearing contains a remote controlled claw that Feathers uses to hook the diamond. He narrowly succeeds, but accidentally dislodges a ceiling tile and sets the trousers off balance, thus causing the claw to swing into the laser and trigger the burglar alarm, waking Wallace up. Feathers marches Wallace out of the museum and back to the house. The penguin reveals himself to be Wallace's lodger, and traps him in a wardrobe. Gromit confronts Feathers, but the penguin draws a gun and forces Gromit into the wardrobe, locking them both inside. Using his electronics expertise, Gromit tampers with the trousers' circuits to make them march and break open the wardrobe.
There follows a chase aboard Wallace and Gromit's model train set, as Gromit tries to stop Feathers from escaping with the stolen diamond. Feathers attempts to escape by driving the train straight toward the front door, but Gromit quickly switches the tracks before he can escape. Wallace's attempts to assist are mostly unsuccessful, though he manages to remove Feathers' gun and free himself from the trousers. Feathers' train collides with the trousers, and he is captured in a bottle, taken to the police station, and imprisoned in a zoo.
Wallace and Gromit celebrate paying off their debts with the substantial reward money. Meanwhile, the Techno Trousers, unceremoniously consigned to the dustbin, walk off by themselves into the sunset.
Peter Sallis as Wallace provides the only voice acting in the film; all other characters are silent with the exception of Gromit's occasional growling and yelping.
In the original airing of the film, Gromit's birthday card plays "Happy Birthday to You". When the film was released on DVD by Warner Home Video in 2000, and by DreamWorks Home Entertainment SKG in 2005, this was replaced with "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" to avoid copyright infringements. Also removed for the DVD (again for reasons of copyright) are two specific songs from the penguin's radio replaced with extracts from Hammond organ versions of "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree".
In addition, Gromit's television during breakfast no longer plays the Open University theme. The remastered HD version of the film and the Blu-ray release also does not include the original music. However the original soundtrack can still be heard in the background of the commentary track of the DVD release. The original soundtrack can also be heard in the film when viewed in other languages and in English when viewed with other language subtitles.
The Wrong Trousers was voted as the eighteenth best British Television Show by the British Film Institute. It has a unanimously positive score on Rotten Tomatoes with 24 reviews, 100% positive and an average score of 9.1/10. The film was awarded the Grand Prix at the Tampere Film Festival and the Grand Prix at the World Festival of Animated film – Animafest Zagreb in 1994. The Wrong Trousers won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
In other works
The character of Feathers McGraw has appeared briefly in numerous other works by Aardman. In the follow-up short A Close Shave, the words 'Feathers was 'ere' can be seen written on the wall of Gromit's jail cell, and in A Matter of Loaf and Death, he is featured both on a wanted poster on the wall of a zoo (next to a long rope over the wall, implying his escape) and briefly in the background of a shot in which Piella lands in an alligator enclosure.
McGraw also appeared as the main villain in the spin-off video game, Wallace & Gromit in Project Zoo. Additionally, McGraw appears in some episodes of the Canadian computer animated television series, ReBoot.
The pair of Techno Trousers would reappear in Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures Episode 1: "Fright of the Bumblebees", as a mechanical pusher of the lawn mower; and Episode 4: "The Bogey Man", where they are used by Wallace to hold his golf clubs.
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