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Film review: Wallace & Gromit film best of Oscar-nominated cartoons

Wallace & Gromit open a bakery in "A Matter of Loaf and  Death."
Wallace & Gromit open a bakery in "A Matter of Loaf and Death."
Shorts International

THE OSCAR NOMINATED SHORT FILMS 2010 (ANIMATED PROGRAM) — ★★★ — Compilation of short works from around the world; with English subtitles (French and Spanish dialects); not rated, probable R (violence, profanity, vulgarity, slurs, brief partial nudity); Tower Theatre

One short. That's all it takes to nearly ruin what is a perfectly good and mostly family friendly collection of animated works.

That short is "Logorama," a cartoon police thriller in which all the characters, vehicles and buildings resemble corporate logos and mascots. It's littered with R-rated language, violent content and off-color references and humor.

Worse still, it's a one-joke bit that definitely didn't deserve to be nominated for an Academy Award in the first place.

But because it was, it's included in "The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2010 (Animated Program)," an otherwise winning compilation of all five animated shorts that were nominated this year.

(Three others shorts that didn't make the final cut — "Partly Cloudy," "Runaway" and "The Kinematograph" — are also included, to pad out the running time.)

The goofy "Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty" is a heavy revision of the fairy tale, as told to a granddaughter by an embittered grandmother.

"The Lady and the Reaper," from Spain, pits Death against a determined doctor. And in "French Roast," a man without money continues to drink espresso at his peril.

The standout of the bunch, of course, is "A Matter of Loaf and Death," the newest Wallace & Gromit short.

In it, the inventive pooch and his somewhat dim-witted human master open their own bakery.

Wallace is also wooed by a former spokesmodel, while Gromit investigates the mysterious murders of their fellow bakers.

It's hilarious and clever, and comes highly recommended.

Also, given that Wallace & Gromit creator Nick Park has won every time he has been nominated — except for 1991, in which two of his films were in the running — "A Matter of Loaf and Death" is the obvious front-runner for this year's Oscar.

"The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2010 (Animated Program)" is not rated but would probably receive an R for strong violent content and imagery (gunplay and shootings, a bludgeoning, a natural disaster, vehicular and explosive mayhem, as well as some slapstick), strong sexual language (profanity, crude slang and other suggestive talk), derogatory language and slurs, and brief partial nudity (including a male backside). Total running time: 97 minutes.