A Matter of Loaf and Death is a mock murder mystery, with Wallace and Gromit starting a new bakery business. Gromit and Wallace both learn that bakers have been mysteriously murdered, and Gromit tries to solve the case before Wallace ends up as a victim himself. The short follows the same basic outline as A Close Shave, and in the film Wallace falls in love, with disastrous consequences. He falls for bread enthusiast Piella Bakewell, who used to advertise for a local bread firm, but she turns out to be his worst nightmare. Also this short sees Gromit falling in love for the first time, as he becomes attached to Piella's downtrodden poodle, Fluffles, who reciprocates his affection.
The original working title for the film when the project was first announced was "Trouble at' Mill". However, the title was changed during production to "A Matter of Loaf and Death".
Baker Bob is bludgeoned to death with his own rolling pin by an unseen assailant while baking a cake; he is the latest of twelve bakers to be killed. Meanwhile, Wallace and Gromit are running a "Dough to Door" delivery service from their bakery Top Bun. On one such delivery, the duo save Piella Bakewell, a former pin-up girl mascot for the Bake-O-Lite bread company, and her miniature poodle, Fluffles, when the brakes on her bike appear to fail. They drive alongside so Wallace can attempt to use pastries to stop, but they career into a zoo and barely escape being eaten by a crocodile. Gromit tests the bicycle brakes and becomes suspicious on learning that they work, but Wallace becomes smitten with Piella.
A whirlwind romance ensues, during which it's also shown that the nervous Fluffles is treated rather shabbily by Piella. During the romance, Piella gives the entire house a "woman's touch," decorating the whole house with dog romance pictures and flowers (including Gromit's room). In addition, she pushes Gromit out of his relationship with Wallace and spends more time with him. Angry that Piella has interrupted his relationship with Wallace and modified the house, Gromit is about to start destroying the decorations when Fluffles stops by his room. Fluffles and Gromit share a sensitive moment after she timidly returns Gromit's possessions, which have been discarded by Piella. However, when Piella leaves her purse at the house, Wallace decides to return it, but it's raining outside. Not wanting to get wet, he insists that Gromit return it instead. Upon arriving at Piella's affluent mansion, Gromit discovers several dressmaker's dummies in her bedroom, each wearing a baker's hat and apron. In a book, Gromit discovers photographs of Piella with the murdered bakers. To his horror, Gromit realizes Piella is the "Cereal Killer" after he discovers a picture with Wallace as her apparent intended thirteenth victim, thus completing a "baker's dozen". Gromit accidentally knocks over all the dummies, but gets them all back up again before Piella enters the bedroom, escaping detection by hanging from the chandelier. Despite Piella's lavish ways, Fluffles has to sleep in an old cardboard box covered with a tattered rag, implying years of mistreatment.
Gromit attempts to warn Wallace by showing him the photographs, but Piella burns them in the fireplace to hide the evidence. Despite Wallace being oblivious, Gromit attempts to thwart Piella by installing an airport-style metal detector in their home. After tricking Wallace into thinking that Gromit bit her which when she bit herself, Piella almost succeeds at pushing Wallace to his death whilst a chained up Gromit can only watch, but she is thwarted by being struck by a bag of flour from Wallace's dough-mixing contraption. After she has a furious outburst against bakers, she leaves but returns a day later to apologizes with a large cake. Wallace says that it will do nicely for four o'clock tea. When Piella is leaving to attend to an absent Fluffles (who is "not well"), she tells him he will be getting a surprise. A worried Gromit follows her home only to be caught and imprisoned with Fluffles in a storeroom. Escaping in Piella's old Bake-O-Lite hot air balloon, they arrive at Wallace's house as he is lighting the candle with Duck Vestas Matches.
After a struggle, the cake falls to the floor and a bomb inside is revealed. While attempting to dispose of the bomb, Wallace and Gromit are attacked by Piella, who reveals she is the Cereal Killer. Piella explains how she detests bakers, along with their creations, for ruining her career as the Bake-O-Lite girl after her obesity from consuming too much bread and cakes meant she couldn't ride her balloon anymore. While attempting to finish off Wallace, a battle ensues between Piella and Fluffles in a yellow forklift truck covered by giant oven mitts.
In the chaos, the bomb ends up in the back of Wallace's trousers. Gromit and Fluffles neutralize the explosion with a large amount of dough while Piella uses the distraction to leap onto her balloon and escape. However, because of her weight, she instead falls into a horde of crocodiles, and is brutally murdered off-screen. The balloon floats away with Piella's ghost (her former slim self) waving goodbye to Wallace and Gromit. It's unknown if this is just Wallace's imagination, as he says "You'll always be my Bake-o-Lite girl." right before the ghost disappears. Distraught by the death of her owner, Fluffles leaves, with both Wallace and Gromit depressed over their losses (though Wallace cheers up after a good tea while Gromit is still upset). Deciding to take their minds off things, they head out to deliver bread and they find Fluffles standing in the middle of their driveway, uncertain as to what to do or where to go. Wallace sympathizes with her. She joins Wallace and Gromit in the van, and they drive off into the sunset, ending the short.
Characters & Voice cast
- Peter Sallis as Wallace
- Sally Lindsay as Piella Bakewell
- Ben Whitehead as Baker Bob
- Miss. Thripp
- Feathers McGraw (Brief cameo, seen on zoo poster)
- This is the first Wallace and Gromit film to be shot on digital video.
- The baker who was killed in the opening scene was based on Bob Baker, one of the writers of the film.
- In this film, Gromit reads a yellow book called, "Electric Surveillance for Dogs". In A Grand Day Out and The Wrong Trousers, he gained information from red and blue books called: "Electronics for Dogs".
- The cardboard box that Fluffles sleeps reads "Meatabix", a play on the cereal Weetabix. Gromit hides in a similar box to spy on Feathers McGraw in The Wrong Trousers and to avoid getting shot by the fake Zoo Keepers in Project Zoo.
- In the scene where Gromit tries to dispose of the bomb where he refuses to throw out of the windows at ducks in a pond or nuns with kittens is a reference to the scene in Batman, where the titiular character is also forced to hesitate, as he refuses to kill under all circumstances.
- This is the first film to feature a love interest for Gromit.
- At one point, when Piella rings the doorbell, Gromit sees a deathly figure's shadow against the door's glass. This reflects her intention of murdering Wallace. When Wallace answers the door, it's revealed to be Piella holding an umbrella, which was the shadow's "scythe".
- When Fluffles returns Gromit's things to him, a CD album titled "Puppy Love" is shown. Later, when Wallace, Gromit, and Fluffles are delivering bread, Fluffles plays the same song. The first lyrics are "They call it puppy love", and apparently, Gromit is a bit distracted, as Wallace is heard yelling at Gromit to watch it as the van swerves to the left.
- In a scene where Piella and Wallace are making bread, the song Unchained Melody' is playing in the background.
- After realizing Piella is the serial killer, Wallace jumps under the floor grates and hides with Piella pulling each grates to try and catch him. The scene is similar to Aliens, where Newt runs under the floor grates to escape the alien queen who is pulling the grates out one by one to catch the girl.
- As Wallace is escaping from Piella, Fluffles entering the bakery floor on the yellow forklift with the flood of lights behind her is similar to Ripely on the military loader ready to battle the alien queen in Aliens.
- The forklift Fluffles uses against Piella in the final showdown is the same one Gromit uses to take bread out of the oven and put it into the delivery van near the start of the movie.
- Bake-o-Lite bread is a tribute to / parody of Nimble bread, complete with the balloon used to advertise it. The name refers to the early plastic bakelite.
- When the Bake-o-Lite balloon descends into the crocodile pit, two penguins resembling Feathers McGraw are seen in the background. It is also visible that the crocodile pit was sponsored by a photo company called Superb Snaps.
- When the van crashes into the zoo at the start, an escape rope can be seen hanging down the wall; a call-back to the end of The Wrong Trousers, when Feathers McGraw was incarcerated in the zoo.
- This episode showed that Gromit has been voiced. You can hear clearly that where Wallace talks to him in the van he made a hmmm sound.
- In reality, it would be impossible to put a steering wheel on the left of a right-hand driving car. It's possible that Wallace and Gromit had modified the van for the ability to do that.
- This is the darkest episode in the series so far ever since A Close Shave.
- This is the last Wallace and Gromit short film where Wallace is voiced by Peter Sallis.
Goofs / Errors
- At one point when Piella picks Gromit off the chair, just before she accuses him of biting her, you see him from the back and his tail is missing - yet later in the film it has reappeared.
- Also Wallace should have knew the fact that Gromit doesn't have a mouth or else how could he bite her.
- When Piella leaves Wallace's & Gromit's home, and cycles away, the scene pans to the hallway of their house and Piella's hat and coat are hanging up, yet she has just left.
- Near the end of the movie, Piella hits Gromit away from the bomb. When the bomb falls out of the window, Piella turns and we see an impression of Gromit on her weapon. But the impression is on the wrong side.
- Fluffles bites Piella just before the final showdown. Fluffles' mouth was not seen before or afterwards.
- The bomb is knocked out of the window and gets caught in the mill sails. However, when it flies out the window, the sails have just swung past, meaning the bomb should have landed in the garden.
- In Piella's bedroom, the direction of the floorboards change between shots.
- Wallace's apron is not seen when he eats the burned toast. When he begins to read the paper, he has got it on. In the next scene, it is gone again. When they begin delivering bread, it has reappeared.
- When Piella steps through the security bars and it goes off because of the ladle, steps back through & goes through it again. For some reason the engagement ring did not set off the machine.
- The steering wheel had an Opel badge when the van is an Austin.
[Wallace and Gromit in the baker's van]
Wallace: How's that breakfast coming on?
[Gromit presses the button on the car radio and a slice of cremated toast pops out from the cassette slot]
Wallace: Well done lad.
[Looks at the burnt toast]
Wallace: Very well done.