You can expect all manner of King Kong pastiches once the remake opens in December, but Wallace & Gromit succeeds in spoofing the great ape months in advance. It's only one of a series of cinematic references throughout the claymation creations' first full-length feature, which add to the adult value of the film without alienating tweens who unreservedly adore the long-suffering dog and his inventive owner.
It's familiar territory from the off as a series of joke portraits on the walls of our heroes' home set a high standard for the sight gags peppered throughout (their kitchen contains a 'SMUG' fridge; the name of their company is Anti-Pesto). Indeed, the film's flaw is that so inventive were the three shorts that preceded it, it has to cover a fair amount of old ground. So the breakfast and dressing inventions reappear, as does the plot - Wallace and Gromit are on the trail of another dastardly animal opponent who threatens the very fabric of their lives, specifically the local vegetable competition.
In extending the length of the movie, W&G's world has had to widen, too. An array of new humans now figure - including PC McIntosh (voiced by Peter Kay), Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter) and her no-good snooty suitor Lord Victor Quartermaine (Ralph Fiennes, in Rigsby mode) - as do numerous not-so-cutesy rabbits.
Wallace's grand plan - to brainwash the floppy-eared freaks into disliking vegetables - allows the filmmakers to layer the references on nice and thick. Frankenstein is an obvious influence, as are Doctor Jekyll And Mr Hyde and The Italian Job, while an airborne dogfight between Gromit and Quartermaine's mutt recalls Snoopy's Red Baron battles. You could even delve deeper and unearth nods to genetic engineering and GM farming. Which makes this gloriously organic entertainment, in every sense.
Wallace & Gromit make an effortless transition to feature-film format in this bona fide British success. Makes you proud. Really!