Reviewed by: Keith Howland
|Featuring:||Peter Sallis, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, John Thomson, Peter Kay|
Wallace is a peculiar person, and Gromit is an extraordinarily industrious dog. Through just three short films, they became internationally beloved stars and multi-Academy Award winners in the 1990s. And they are both plasticine. Now, ten years after their last adventure, they hit the big screen in their first feature film (not looking a day older).
Wallace (voice of Peter Sallis) is a prodigious inventor, but he lacks marketing sense, so he is repeatedly devising new occupations by which he and Gromit can keep themselves in cheese and bones. After returning from their quest for cheese on the moon in “A Grand Day Out” (1989), the lads tried renting a room (with fateful results) in “The Wrong Trousers” (1993), and then became window washers in “A Close Shave” (1995). Now, they have formed Anti-Pesto, a humane pest-control operation.
Their business is bustling, because their community is brimming with rabbits keen on eating the prize vegetables the locals are growing for their annual competition. The problem with humanely trapping rabbits, however, is that there is nowhere to put them. They are all simply kept in Wallace’s cellar, but that cannot last. So Wallace opts for a decidedly risky scheme: Using a new invention that controls brainwaves, he attempts to remove all thoughts of munching veggies from the rabbits’ little brains.
There is a glitch, however (has nobody learned from Frankenstein?), and soon the beastly Were-Rabbit hops madly about when the moon is full (which it appears to be every night).
Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was made by Aardman Animations and the incredible Nick Park, who created the characters. As with their last feature, “Chicken Run”, the Aardman team has produced an astonishing work of motion picture art. The viewer can spend the full 90 minutes of the film marveling at the stop-motion animation, photography, lighting, specially made props and settings, and countless puns that fly by in the background-from Wallace’s selection of cheese-titled books to the letters on the buttons of the van’s radio. There is action, humor, and suspense in just about equal measure, and the adults should perhaps find more to laugh at than the children (especially all those puns).
It does seem, though, that 90 minutes does not suit Wallace and Gromit quite as well as 30 minutes. Their earlier adventures were told with considerable thrift, whereas this story seems unnecessarily protracted. Further, in stretching the scenario to feature length, the writers opted to broaden the scope of its humor. One expects jokes involving double entendre, belching, and underwear from Shrek, not from Wallace and Gromit. Add to this a little irreverence involving the character of the vicar, and the result is a film different in tone than the short films. It is as though Wallace and Gromit have lost some of their innocence, and there was never any need for them to lose it.
One thing thankfully does not change: Wallace gets himself and Gromit into trouble, and Gromit gets them out of it. Gromit must be the finest dog ever. He knits, fetches, and makes breakfast; he does not shed or stink or make noise; and he exposes evildoers and rescues his master without ever holding a grudge. He is great with gadgets, too. He is truly man’s best friend.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Minor