The Wrong Trousers (1993)

With no disrespect at all to Nick Park’s undeniable talent and skill as a director, I believe that the Wallace & Gromit franchise owes everything to the co-writer who began working with Aardman on this 1993 film. It’s Bob Baker, who had worked on nine Doctor Who serials in the seventies, along with credits on everything from cop shows to children’s serials. With Baker on board, there’s more structure and more happening around our heroes. They’re not in a vacuum like in the first film, and while it’s a perfectly charming vacuum for half an hour, the sense of scale and the larger environment in The Wrong Trousers makes for a far, far better movie.

I first saw this on WGTV one Friday evening in 1994 or 1995 and immediately made a pest out of myself to anybody who would listen. I must have shown the tape I made of this to three dozen people, and every single person burst a lung laughing over the model train climax. That happened again tonight. When Gromit grabbed that box of spare track, I thought my son was going to pop.

This might be my favorite overall Wallace and Gromit adventure. I’m not entirely sure, because I can’t honestly compare it to the next one. As I’ll explain one day next month, I’ve deliberately only watched A Close Shave just once and don’t remember much of anything about it. But Trousers rewards rewatching, particularly with a kid who’s old enough to read what’s on screen, and especially with a kid who absolutely loves building things. Wallace’s inventions and contraptions have him captivated even before the mayhem begins, and once that happens, he’s in heaven.

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