‘A MATTER OF LOAF AND DEATH’
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Wallace & Gromit’s Bakery
‘A Matter of Loaf and Death’ is a Christmas treat I shall always cherish.
I was lucky enough to watch this on Christmas Day, 2008. Beforehand I had been able to see repeats of the classic ‘Wallace & Gromit’ episodes as a kid and have fond memories of them. This was the first time I saw a ‘Wallace & Gromit’ special with such clarity and it was very enjoyable experience.
I like to dedicate this review to Peter Sallis, who voiced Wallace in all of the ‘Wallace & Gromit’ films. “Job well done, lad! Hmm, hmm!”
It’s been three years since ‘The Curse of the Were Rabbit’ and Wallace and Gromit now run a bakery. I love the opening scene where Gromit wakes up his master who’s been sleeping in the actual bakery workings with his ears stuffed with cotton. Wallace gets woken up with a balloon full of cold water.
They do the traditional ‘Thunderbirds Are Go’ sequence with a twist as we see Wallace going through the bakery workings before reaching their new bakery van. It’s a lovely opening scene as Wallace enjoying a cup of tea and ‘a very well-done’ slice of toast from Gromit who drives their van.
However, Wallace and Gromit are under threat when running a bakery as a mass murderer called the ‘Cereal Killer’ is on the loose killing bakers off by the dozen. Gromit is obviously worried, but Wallace doesn’t seem bothered as this gives him and Gromit the chance to continue their business.
Wallace and Gromit then come across Piella Bakewell (voiced by Sally Lindsay of ‘Coronation Street’), who was a former pin-up mascot girl for the apparently famous ‘Bake-O-Lite’ bread company. `Light as a feather, she’s the Bake-O-Lite girl’ apparently. She’s got her own dog – a poodle called Fluffles.
Wallace takes a fancy to Piella since she happens to be the ‘girl of his dreams’. Pretty soon they start dating together, feeding ducks in the park; punting on a boat trip; dancing at a restaurant, etc. It’s a relationship that’s slightly over-the-top and too much for Gromit’s who gets very suspicious of Piella.
I liked Gromit’s relationship with Fluffles as it seems like a real love relationship that’s subtler and sweeter. I like that scene where Gromit finds his room redecorated by Piella with flowers and cutie doggies and he gets so agitated before receiving a visit from Fluffles who returns his things for him.
That moment when Gromit accidentally touches Fluffles’ paw by mistake when taking the box of things from her was really sweet. The moment where he blushes after she giggles a bit was touching. Fluffles is so like Gromit who can’t speak and you can tell what she’s saying by her facial expressions.
As the story progresses, Gromit soon discovers that Piella is in actual fact the Cereal Killer and she wants to get her ‘baker’s dozen’. Wallace is next on her list, and Gromit panics, determined to stop Piella murdering his master, which goes to show how very loyal Gromit is to protecting his master.
Gromit goes to great lengths to save Wallace, by setting up an electronic security system to detect metal when Piella walks through and wears a security hat to go with it. He locks up all kitchen cutlery and utensils in a ‘WMD’ shed and stops Wallace from eating soup that is a `special’ recipe by Piella.
I liked it when Gromit tries to get the ‘cake of death’ out of harm’s way and Wallace jumps in the air, shouting in slow motion to stop him before the cake turns out to be a bomb with words ‘BOMB’ written on it. It was funny when Wallace tells Gromit that the cake’s a bomb and Gromit is annoyed.
I also liked that moment when after Wallace feels rejected by Piella and he says, “I’m not a fruit cake, am I lad?” before Gromit pats him on the back. The animation is very good and the way the characters look with Gromit and his facial expressions without speaking are truly wonderful to see.
I loved it when Fluffles uses the Wallace and Gromit bakery truck with gloved mittens as cranes to fight against Piella to save Wallace. Wallace’s reaction to Fluffles when he goes, “Well done lad…err, lass?!” was truly inspirational. I loved it when Fluffles is wearing a pink safety helmet to fight Piella.
The episode’s climax was really funny and exciting to watch. Gromit tries to get the bomb away before it ends up in Wallace’s pants. It was so amusing to see Wallace running around in a panic, saying “Gromit! There’s a bomb in me pants!’ But Gromit and Fluffles soon save him with raw pastry.
In the end, Piella get gobbled up by the crocodile in the zoo as she was drops down in her balloon. It’s a sad moment for Wallace who says goodbye to Piella seeing her go to heaven. But it quickly passes as he goes off for a cup of tea. Fluffles however is affected by this abrupt loss of her mistress.
Gromit invites Fluffles to join him and Wallace, which she declines at first. When Wallace and Gromit go to deliver some bread to brighten up, Fluffles then joins them. The three go off into the sunset and play an LP record of ‘Puppy Love’ in the car which is a lovely way to end this episode on a high.
The DVD special features are as follows. There’s a ‘making-of’ documentary called ‘How They Donut’; a picture gallery and a ‘Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures’ PC game demo to enjoy.
There’s also a commentary with director Nick Park and editor David McCormick and the ‘When Wallace Met Harvey’ featurette. There also trailers on ‘Timmy Time’ and ‘Shaun the Sheep’.
‘A Matter of Loaf and Death’ is a ‘Wallace & Gromit’ special worth watching! It’s well-written and well-directed by Nick Park with co-writer Bob Baker. It may not be a touch on the classics like ‘A Grand Day Out’; ‘The Wrong Trousers’; ‘A Close Shave’ and ‘The Curse of the Were-Rabbit’, but it’s such a fantastic romp to see.
This adds to the great collection of adventures for this dynamic duo. It made my Christmas Day watching this with the ‘Doctor Who’ episode ‘The Next Doctor’. I’m sure this will do it for you too.
‘A Matter of Loaf and Death’ rating – 9/10
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