Thursday, January 15, 2009

Claymation: Creature Comforts (1989, Nick Park)

Creature Comforts (1989)
UK, 5 min
Directed by: Nick Park
Written by: Nick Park (uncredited)
Starring: Julie Sedgewick (voice)

Nick Park's Creature Comforts (1989) beat out competition from the likes of Bruno Bozzetto and Nick Park to win the 1991 Oscar for Best Animated Short. In all honesty, I haven't seen nominee Cavallette (1990), but I still think that the Academy got their ballots mixed up. Just for the record, I find A Grand Day Out with Wallace and Gromit (1989) to be the much better short film, with an entertaining, fully-structured narrative and no shortage of imagination. Creature Comforts has a nice premise and some good jokes, but it's all over so very quickly, leaving only a shallow impression that doesn't bode well for repeat viewings. Nevertheless, the animal characters have that wonderful home-grown "Wallace and Gromit" look about them, always a lovely trademark of Aardman Animations, as well as charming British accents that add some sophistication to the zoo inhabitants' gripes. I’ve always wondered why the British have inherently sophisticated accents.

This five-minute short film is basically just a series of very brief vignettes in which zoo animals are interviewed for their opinions on life in captivity. Some animals have some good things to say about it, but most do nothing but complain, particularly a certain South American carnivore who goes on at length about the "lack of space" in his enclosure. There's a family of polar bears who are eager to get their opinions across, and miss having steak in their diets. I also liked the turtle that "tries to spend as little time in here as possible," although that is more easily said than done. The quaintness of the dialogue is probably due to the filming technique, which was to interview zoo visitors off the street, request that they behave like animals, and produce the animation around these results. In 2003, Creature Comforts was expanded into a successful TV series, though the even greater success of the Wallace and Gromit franchise validates, I think, my feelings about which is the better film.


  1. Why don't you include online links like EFSS? The two of you should start collaborations.

  2. There a very few short films that can't be found by typing the title into YouTube - that's usually how I end up seeing them.
    This way I prevent myself from linking directly to potentially copyrighted material.

  3. What sort of collaborations do you propose?


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