Half of the award-winning, plasticine-animated title pair, level-headed Gromit is a canine genius, the intellectual counterpart to the slightly less in-tune Wallace. He's an inventor of random but very useful devices, he's a scientist of many fields, he reads the classics, he knits often, he doesn't have much to say, and he pretty much is the gears that run all of the duo's crazy schemes. As the posters say, Wallace is the "master" and Gromit is the "mind".
In A Grand Day Out, Wallace is dismayed to discover that his stock of his favorite snack (cheese) has run out, and he and Gromit take this opportunity to embark on holiday on a mission to the moon. They're sure they'll be able to find fine samples of cheese there, since (as everyone knows), the moon is made of the stuff. So they pack up a picnic, and crackers for the cheese, fire up their homemade rocket ship and head into outer space. While they enjoy their snack, the duo are surprised to find a lonely vending-machine-like robot trying to befriend them. Frightened, the two get back on board their rocket and head back to earth, leaving the abandoned robot sadly clutching the rails he pulled off the rocket. He soon learns to rig the rails up like skis and finds a hobby to occupy his lonely existence.
In The Wrong Trousers, Wallace finds he needs to rent out a room in their flat to make ends meet, and offers Gromit's room to a new tenant, a penguin that may or may not have a darker side. Relegated to an outdoor doghouse, Gromit is frustrated, and the matter is complicated when Gromit finds evidence that the new lodger is a ruthless criminal. The penguin has plans to use Wallace's new remote-controlled mechanical trousers to complete his plans for a robbery, all while Wallace is asleep in the trousers. Gromit employs all of his skill and intellect to foil the penguin's plans and save the oblivious Wallace.
In A Close Shave, Wallace and Gromit are part of a new business endeavor, a window-washing business, in which Wallace provides the gadgets and Gromit does the actual work. Wallace falls for Wendolene Ramsbottom, a pretty client of the duo's window-washing business who works at a wool and yarn shop, which fits in with Wallace's latest invention, the Knit-O-Matic, which cleans and shears sheep, which he's able to employ when a stray sheep wanders into his home. Wallace and Gromit discover that the sheep has esaped from a couple of sheep rustlers who have many sheep imprisoned, and want the lost one back. Things take a nasty turn when the mastermind behind the evil sheep-stealing scheme turns out to be Preston, a menacing dog owned by Wendolene. Preston manages to frame Gromit for killing sheep and put in jail, and Wallace, Wendolene and the sheep must work together to break Gromit out of prison and bring justice to Preston. Victorious, Wallace and Wendolene seem fated to eternal bliss, until Wallace discovers that she can't stand cheese...
In Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, the pair are involved in a new business, Anti-Pesto, a humane pest control service, and find themselves invaluable to the town with the upcoming annual Giant Vegetable Contest looming and a group of hungry rabbits having their way with everyone's garden. They find their humane methods of keeping the rabbits in pens in their basement is taking its toll when they start to run out of room and sustenance for the many animals. Wallace has the bright idea to use his latest invention, a brainwashing machine, to teach the rabbits not to crave vegetables, but cheese instead, but disaster strikes when the invention malfunctions and a rabbit and Wallace's brains are connected directly. When a mysterious and large veg-eating creature appears and starts to raid the neighborhood gardens despite the preventative measures in place by Anti-Pesto, the competition hostess, the lovely and prim Lady Tottington employs Wallace and Gromit's outfit to save the contest. Meanwhile, Lady Tottington's obnoxious, pompous and self-absorbed suitor, Lord Victor Quartermaine, for the purposes of gaining local glory and Lady Tottington's hand in marriage, has a gun handy and would rather shoot the beast than employ W&G's humane methods. To complicate the matter, Gromit soon discovers that the were-rabbit is actually Wallace, suffering from a shared rabbit brain from his incident with the mind manipulating machine. Victor discovers this and vows to exterminate the beast whatever it takes, and Gromit has to foil his plans and yet again save the day, the town, the vegetables and the rabbits. In the end, the aroma of cheese brings Wallace to his senses and cures him of his woeful condition, and Lady Tottington opens a safe haven for all of the town rabbits at her mansion home.
Wallace and Gromit are excellent characters, and their stories are imaginative and very funny. It's sometimes a different kind of humor than Americans are used to (that's what happens when they make movies across the pond), but it's undeniably hilarious. The humor is quite impressive, the recent film had me nearly on the floor at parts. There were little inside jokes for fans of the original shorts (like calling the downtown barbershop "A Close Shave", etc.). The script and the voice acting really made much of the film. Having a character named PC Mackintosh and witty dialogue, they should win some kind of award:
Lady Tottington: (over the phone) I have the most terrible rabbit infestation.
Wallace: Certainly, M'um, we'll be there in... (hits the control panel and gets dragged up through the ceiling) Ahhhh!!!
Lady Tottington: Hour? In an hour? But I can't wait that long!
Brilliant. I had a hard time at first deciding just which of these guys I should feature on my website, and it became obviously clear that Gromit had to be the guy. While Wallace is amusing and also has moments of lucid brilliance, the real hero of the pair is Gromit. He doesn't have much to say, but he's extremely intelligent, and almost without fail, the situation relies on Gromit to save the day (which he invariably does). While his design is appealing and interesting, and his character is charming and memorable (I love that he doesn't even need to have an apparent mouth), the real miracle about Gromit is the acting. He never speaks (the closest he comes is the occasional sigh, sob or cough, and the off-screen bark now and then), and he has minimal facial features, but you can tell exactly what he's thinking or trying to communicate almost without fail. He communicates completely with gestures, expressions and pantomime, but his eyebrows and eyes, body language and gestures show an impressive level of acting on the part of the animators. It's been interesting to see the evolution of these characters and the style from the first short to the first cinematic ventures. This medium of animation always has a really personal, tactile, charming feel to it, and I love how you can now and then see the hint of a fingerprint on the figures.
Images from A Grand Day Out
Images from The Wrong Trousers
Images from A Close Shave
Images from Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit