Hippo Manchester
October 13, 2005

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Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (PG)

A British cheese lover (Wallace) and his very practical dog (Gromit) attempt to safeguard their town’s vegetables from one very large, very hungry rabbit in the beautiful, funny and all-around delightful Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

Wallace (Peter Sallis) and Gromit are a pair boasting Felix and Oscar / Bert and Ernie / Laurel and Hardy-level symbiosis. The two would be lost without each other — Wallace is not nearly as clever as his dog Gromit and Gromit would have no one to take care of if Wallace weren’t there. The skeptical brow of Gromit is the closest this patient dog gets to communication but it speaks volumes. As Wallace attempts to curb the vegetable-noshing habits of a container full of bunnies with a brain-wave-manipulation device, Gromit’s brow frets for an experiment he knows will go wrong. As Gromit seeks to protect his master from the vainglorious Victor Quartermaine (Ralph Fiennes), his brow sets determinedly. As Gromit strokes his prized melon (protected by an elaborate security system), we see a tenderness and modest pride.

Though Wallace gets top billing, it’s truly Gromit’s show.

Of course, in this stop-motion treat, even the villains, from Victor to a pack of mischievous rabbits, are endearing. Quartermaine is a hunter, desperate to shoot the floppy-eared foes of gardeners babying their pumpkins, squash, tomatoes and carrots in preparation for a vegetable competition. But Wallace and Gromit claim they can guard the town’s gardens without violence. Their company Anti-Pesto is humane, capturing the rabbits alive and then taking them back home where they are fed meals of carrots and assorted vegetables. This method attracts the admiration and attention of Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter), Quartermaine’s would-be fiancée and a large landowner with lots of bunnies needing capture. Quartermaine is highly distressed by her softness toward fluffy creatures and wants to get rid of Anti-Pesto and potential romantic rival Wallace. When a giant rabbit begins breaking through Anti-Pesto’s defenses and attacking the gardens, Quartermaine might get his chance to bring down the pair.

Like Chicken Run and the Wallace & Gromit shorts, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is not a children’s movie so much as it is a movie with elements that children will enjoy — the rabbits, Wallace’s antics, Gromit’s rescues. Good-hearted and sunny in its outlook, the movie is not childish. It’s full of sight gags and word plays that adults will get without alienating or disturbing younger audience members. Perhaps what impressed me the most was how hectic and cartoony the movie isn’t — it unfolds like a storybook being read with zest to an appreciative audience.

And, far from the Pixar and DreamWorks computer-animated movies, Wallace & Gromit has a depth and a richness that is just wonderful to look at. The result of all the painstaking work of stop-motion animation is that you have characters with substance that move about in a real world populated by things they might trip on or people they might actually bump in to. You can feel as well as see the difference of this kind of visual style. 

The rare animated movie that an entire family can watch and enjoy, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit enchants with its silly but clever humor, bright visuals and adventurous story.