Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

The Wallace & Gromit shorts were wonderful little movies that, unfortunately, even with multiple Academy Awards, never achieved the wide acclaim they deserved. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit should (hopefully) rectify this. The film is more stop-motion mayhem from those wonderful guys at Aardman, who were responsible for Chicken Run a few years back. This is more than a true all-ages movie, which is in and of itself is pretty rare. Curse of the Were-Rabbit is also very clever; full of wry jokes and background sight gags. It feels very, well, British.

For those that do not know, Wallace (voiced by Peter Sallis) is a dippy inventor who adores cheese. Gromit is the sensible one of the pair. He is just a smart and doesn't say a thing, which is part of the charm of the Wallace & Gromit movies. Because Gromit doesn't speak, directors Nick Park (Chicken Run) and Steve Box need to convey all sort of emotions using Gromit's eyes and ears. Like the just-released Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, this film was made using the time consuming process of stop-motion animation. The filmmakers do a wonderful job of creating an expressive Gromit, who can cycle through more emotions than some real actors. They really believe in their product. They have to, since a full day of work can sometimes produce a few seconds, and the love and care they shower onto the story, characters, and background sight gags is very obvious.

Wallace and Gromit currently run Anti-Pesto, a company that provides a humane way to rid gardens of rabbits. The annual vegetable contest is coming up, and everybody wants to make sure that their vegetables are safe from rabbits. The pair uses Rube Goldberg-like traps, including something that basically amounts to a really cool vacuum cleaner. Things like that cause one to wonder how Park and Box were able to achieve such effects. There are multiple scenes where it looks like there are a few dozen rabbits floating in the air. It looks gorgeous, and it is completely mystifying as to how it was done.

All of a sudden, something goes wrong. Everybody's prize vegetables are disappearing, and there are rumors of a giant rabbit stalking the gardens at night. Wallace and Gromit need to restore their reputations, so they set off to find and capture this were-rabbit. Going against them is the pompous Victor Quartermaine (voiced by Ralph Fiennes, The Constant Gardener, Maid in Manhattan), whose solution is to shoot and kill the rabbit. He is already jealous of Wallace because Lady Toddington (voiced by Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) ignores him in favor of Wallace. Park and Box, who co-wrote the plot with Mark Burton (Madagascar) and Bob Baker, stretch the story a bit. Like Corpse Bride, Were-Rabbit is probably a bit longer than it needs to be. But it is clever and charming enough to overlook this.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 25 minutes, Rated G.

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