Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit


(2/13/2006)

As the title might tell you, Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is not really a scary movie, the subject matter notwithstanding. Rather, this latest emanation from the minds of Nick Park and Steve Box"”now available on video and DVD "” parodies many of the horror movie conventions and some specific classics of the genre. Adult viewers will recognize the references to, among others, Frankenstein, King Kong, and any number of werewolf movies. And the kids will find plenty to laugh about, even as some of the clever innuendo goes sailing over their little heads.

The basic story involves the likeable stumblebum Wallace and his faithful (and indispensable) canine sidekick, Gromit, running a pest-control business. Unlike most of the competition, they practice humane business tactics. Rather than killing the rabbits who are nibbling their way through the neighborhood's carefully-tended gardens, Anti-Pesto captures the little darlings with a giant suction machine, takes them home, and, er, tends them. Since Gromit has Wallace on a vegetarian diet, the cooking is easier, though occasional breakouts from their cages create a rabbit menace in the kitchen.

But the menace explodes into a Menace when one of Wallace's many machines goes haywire, spawning a monster who tramples, burrows, and gnaws his way through the prize carrots, cabbage, and melons of their clients. Since Lady Tottingham's vegetable contest is coming up soon"”with the cherished Golden Carrot award at stake"”the stakes are high for the intrepid duo. Only gradually do we (and they) discover that the threat is much closer to home than they feared.

On the way to and beyond the revelation of the Were-Rabbit's identity the humor is unrelenting. Park and Box share writing and directing credits, and they"”along with the character voicings of Peter Sallis, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Peter Kay, and Nicholas Smith"”give the action its obvious appeal. But credit also must go to the incredibly painstaking craftsmanship of the scores of "claymation" technicians who (literally!) leave their marks on their work. (Look closely for the thumbprints.) An imaginative, allusive musical score and some immensely clever production design"”right down to the book titles in cheese-loving Wallace's library"”keep the level of entertainment for adults high. And the usual complement of belch jokes, pratfalls, and whirlwind action will have the kids laughing right to the end.

Run this one through to the final credits of this appropriately "G"-rated movie. You'll get a sense of just how many talented folks were responsible for the wide appeal. If you hang on until the very end, you'll get to see the first funny "no harm was done to animals" disclaimer that I can remember.

 

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