Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Grand Day Out with Nick Park - with all the Creature Comforts

Born today in 1958, Nick Park turns 51 years old today.

Nick Park is a 4 time academy award winning animator/director who began his career at Aardman Animations in Bristol, England in 1985. He was actually nominated 5 times, but one year he competed against and lost/won to himself. Pretty dang impressive.

He began by working as an animator on things like Peter Gabriel's music video for "Sledgehammer" and animation for "Pee Wee's Playhouse", while doing his first "Wallace & Gromit" film "A Grand Day Out" and contributing "Creature Comforts" to a series titled "Lip Synch".

This is one my favorite animated shorts of all time, not just of the modern age. The story behind the story - People around Britain are interviewed about their homes, and the audio is laid into stop-motion animations of animals apparently speaking about life in a zoo. GREAT STUFF!

Here's a snippet:

Park continued (and continues) to make wonderful films with his two major stars, "Wallace & Gromit" but in the meantime he and Aardman have entered into a deal-with-the-devil. The evil-incarnate "DreamWorks" animation division has partnered with Aardman to make a few features and handle the distribution. They all come with mixed results and basically you can tell where the character and storytelling and charm of Aardman comes to a stop and the "suits" and "marketing executives" start, squeezing the life and quality out of them.

"Chicken Run" had some real highlights to it, and "Curse of the Were-Rabbit" kept all the charm of Wallace & Gromit alive though with a hackneyed villain and other characters thrown in to choke out any semblance of letting it be truly great. "Flushed Away"? The less said about this the better...I try and keep this blog on a positive keel, but first and foremost, WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU MAKE A CGI MOVIE WITH CLAYMATION CHARACTER DESIGNS?????

Have I said this before? "DreamWorks" sucks? Have I? Not sure? OK.


Of course the good side of this is, Aardman gets truckloads of money from them, allowing Nick and the rest to keep making things that are worthwhile.

There is a new Wallace & Gromit in the works and Nick Park gets to have a dental plan.

Thanks Nick, for seeing the humor and charm in the smallest of things.


Wallace & Gromit work for a happy holiday:

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