Stop-motion animated series with a cast of animals, sound-biting on a specific topic each episode, such as creatures' sporting adventures, Christmas, and visits to veterinarians. The show ... See full summary »
Wallace takes a break from trying to decide on a holiday destination only to find he has no cheese for his crackers. The solution to both problems is a trip to the moon, with dog Gromit, because everybody knows the moon's made of cheese.
Shaun is a sheep who doesn't follow the flock - in fact, he leads them into all sorts of scrapes and scraps, turning peace in the valley into mayhem in the meadow. Shaun and his pals run ... See full summary »
In the desolate landscapes of an unforgiving desert, a desperate for water wanderer summons up the strength to follow the muffled sound of dripping liquid, only to pay the high price of pursuing a dream. Is all hope lost?
Off camera, with her microphone in view, an interviewer asks creatures at the zoo to talk about how they like their accommodations, what's good and what's bad, and what they miss about their old land. The animals interviewed include a family of polar bears - the youngest of whom likes it there, a large Brazilian cat (who misses the space and the heat of the Amazon), an ape who's a bit bored, a lemur, a turtle who reads for escape, and a chicken who compares her life favorably to the lives of her sisters in the circus. They talk about what they eat, their cramped and smelly quarters, and the technology of zoo life. They're thoughtful, philosophical, and reasoned.Written by
The film's soundtrack is a mixture of actual interviews with shut-ins and zoo attendees, and semi-acting. The jaguar was a Brazilian friend of director Nick Park's who hated England. Park told him to pretend he was a jaguar in the zoo for the interview. See more »
When the Aye-Aye is being interviewed, the leaves around her keep randomly changing positions. See more »
Andrew Polar Bear:
Do you eat lions?
Dad Polar Bear:
No, I don't eat lions, Andrew.
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If there's any single short out there that marked a real defining point for those claymation whiz kids down at Aardman, I'd say 'Creature Comforts' is the one. The debut piece of the now legendary Nick Park (who'd go on to create a series of captivating short films featuring a certain cheese-loving inventor and his well-read canine cohort, whose names I'm sure you don't need me to spell out for you here), it's now a widely-regarded classic in stop motion animation history, and there are some pretty good reasons for that. No other Aardman project, great as they frequently are, has managed to combine such high levels of whimsy, charm and poignancy quite as deftly as this one. The bright idea of taking real-life recordings with members of the public and aligning them with talking plasticine animals in the style of vox pop interviews (in this case, zoo animals commenting on their general living conditions, as extracted from discussions with residents of retirement homes, council housing and student halls) was so fresh, so ingenious and so delightful that the five minute running time designated here simply wasn't enough. It was a concept which begged to be extended, and it spawned a much-deserved franchise in the early 90s with TV ads for the UK's Heat Electric and, more recently, a long-awaited TV series in 2003. A franchise which in turn helped to establish Aardman's now-firm reputation for colourful, offbeat cosiness, as opposed to some of the more downbeat and sombre shorts they'd been working on for much of the 80s (many of which were good enough in their own right - Peter Lord's 'Going Equipped', which debuted alongside 'Creature Comforts' in the Channel 4 series 'Lip Synch, in particular is more than worth a look).
Compared to a lot of the output that followed it, the animation here may look a little primitive by today's standards (the depressed gorilla, for example, is quite clearly riddled with the animator's finger prints), but it's an easily forgivable fault, and doesn't detract from the visual joy that this short is swimming in from start to finish. Get a load of all those wonderful sight gags - the elderly bush-baby's gigantic magnified pupils, the unidentified birds with beaks held on by elastic bands (the antics of the non-speaking characters hovering about in the background have always been something to keep an eye out for in the 'Creature Comforts' realm), the treadmill-running terrapins, the dozens of shrieking, flailing baby rodents all of it gold. Earning Nick Park an Oscar in 1990 for his efforts, it's endearing and comical to the bone - and yet there's also a mild tinge of sadness to it that I doubt 'Creature Comforts' would have been nearly as memorable without. For all the quirky cuteness that those clay-built critters possess, the anguish of a few of the original speakers remains persistent in their voices, and shines through in their pertaining characters quite dynamically. Most of the animals, it would seem, are perfectly contented with their lives in captivity, but there are a few who feel the sting of alienation, the homesick wild cat from Brazil being the standout personality on this one - the high range of exaggerated mannerisms that Park uses to bring him to life are unforgettable.
A lovely film and a wonderful concept, what makes 'Creature Comforts' such a striking experience is, in part, how it touches upon some of the helplessness and frustrations of having to live in a world you feel out of place in. It's also a whole lot of fun too.
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