WALLACE AND GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT|
U.S. Release Date:
October 5, 2005
Producer: Peter Lord
Cast: Helena Bonham Carter (Voice), Ralph Fiennes (Voice)
Running Time: 1 hour and 25 minutes
MPAA Rating: G
With sharp yet safe adult humor, Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit offers a satisfying titch of creator and stop-motion animator Nick Park's dry, light humor. DreamWorks largely leaves Park, who co-created the charming Chicken Run, alone in his popular characters' first feature outing. The benefits, even for the uninitiated like me, are a Saturday morning cartoon-ish delight made in clay.
Wallace (a top vocal job by Peter Sallis) is an inventive small business proprietor with a taste for cheese. Gromit is his loyal dog, which, without making a peep, keeps him going. Together, they operate a service that humanely puts a stop to those blasted rabbits that are wreaking havoc on tidy vegetable gardens. This is important in an English neighborhood where the annual veggie contest is like a big block party. Wallace and Gromit's business—called Anti-Pesto—is a home-based shop powered by Wallace's wacky gadgets. When one of Wallace's inventions goes awry in a Jekyll and Hyde twist that's easy to spot and just plain fun, things get out of hand. Cucumbers are scarfed up like Fritos.
A wing-haired gardening princess named Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter's voice) aims to save the veggies without doing unnecessary harm to the bunnies, but her lover (voice of Ralph Fiennes) has other ideas, and Wallace shows up to settle the difference and maybe more with the lady. The rabbits are a hoot and Park, with writing and directing partner Steve Box, does not let the characters get too cute or complicated. They go for clever instead and come up with bundles of witty, dry lines.
Tottington's suitor is a typical villain who fits the bill, and an assortment of townspeople suits the occasion, with a reverend delivering good gags and laughs. Vulgarity is kept to a minimum, eliminating the laughter remorse one might associate with Austin Powers or Shrek. Knowledge of books—not one's familiarity with body fluids or celebrities—reaps these comic rewards.
Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit peaks when floppy-eared Gromit confronts his nemesis—a teeth-baring canine like Bill Sykes' pooch in Oliver!—in an aerial dogfight with the bulldog borrowing Snoopy's naughty persona, the Red Baron. Household scenes are hilarious and Wallace's gadgets are a particular treat.
At the root of this simple matinee affair, which pleasingly engages the mind as well as the funny bone, for parents and kids alike, are a man and his dog. Wallace is a happy chum, and Gromit is a fine companion, secretly cultivating his own interests when he's not looking after the cheesehead. It drags here and there and, when one character loses something of value, it is disproportionate. But, for bright, harmless, and fun family fare, Wallace and Gromit are in tip-top shape.
Just as delightful on this widescreen edition DVD, with a hefty bundle of extras from DreamWorks, including the Aardman short Stagefright, a strange but juicy highlight of this disc which is available with or without commentary from co-writer and co-director Steve Box.
Box also contributes commentary on the movie, and there's plenty more: a behind the scenes piece, How to Build a Bunny, games, printables, deleted scenes and appearances by Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter and Wallace's voice, Peter Sallis. Viewers get a good sense of the history of these uniquely enjoyable characters, in their major motion picture debut.
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