WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT
Wallace (voice of Peter Sallis) and his loyal dog, Gromit, have made a modest success out of their new business of humane pest control, Anti Pesto. When a huge vegetable munching beast begins to terrorise the town's veggie plots ahead of the annual Giant Vegetable Competition, its patron, Lady Tottington (voice of Helena Bonham Carter) calls in Anti Pesto. But their efforts are frustrated by Lady Tottington's snobbish suitor, Victor (voice of Ralph Fiennes) who prefers to control rabbits by his gun.
Review by Louise Keller:
I am pleased to report that Nick Park's lovable man and dog claymation characters Wallace and Gromit more than sustain our attentions and affection in their first full-length movie. With its deft humour and unique touches, Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is an inspired adventure for every age.
They're unlikely heroes, these endearing characters that first made an appearance 16 years ago in a short film Park made for his graduation. Park has since pocketed three Academy Awards, and this new film (five years in the making) only reinforces the longevity and widespread appeal of his characters. Now, not only has Wallace invented gadgets that wake, dress and feed him and his trusty canine friend Gromit, but has created a total hunt-and-catch system to snare the local rabbits. Their humane Anti-Pesto business has been thriving since the long-eared furry ones were found munching away at oversized vegetables, lovingly nurtured by the entire green-fingered neighbourhood vying for the top prize of the Golden Carrot in the upcoming annual.Giant Vegetable Competition.
The characters have matured, and while Wallace's passion for cheese has not faded, not so his waistline. The fact that we buy the notion of Gromit putting his master on a diet of crudités goes to show how far we are willing to go with these characters. There are exquisite ideas like Wallace hiding his stash of cheeses behind book titles such as Fromage to Eternity, as well as his trusty friend bringing him back from the dead by letting a single whiff of smelly cheese pass under his nose.
Although Gromit does not speak (after all, he is a dog!), he does everything but: from driving and de-mudding the car, operating a giant fake bunny puppet on the car roof and saving his master even from himself. The distinctive Lancashire accent of Peter Sallis as Wallace bring a specific sense of place, countered by the very-very-English Lady Tottington (voice of Helena Bonham Carter), and her toupe-sporting, insufferable money-seeking suitor Victor Quatermaine (voice of Ralph Fiennes). The fact that Lady Tottington gives semblance to a seductive carrot, with her bright, orange hair sitting at an impossible angle and rubbery lips wobbling precariously over her face, is simply one of the charming visual jokes. Rabbit rehab, dogs chasing each other in coin-operated toy planes, a talking rabbit wearing slippers plus the secret of the were-rabbit are some of the treats in store.
Injected with filmic references and a few double-entendre asides for adults, the film works on every level. Warm, funny, with a ripe sense of the ridiculous, the heart of any story about Wallace and Gromit, lies in the strength of the man/dog relationship. There's plenty of heart on display here.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Deliciously eccentric and witty, the first feature length adventure into which these chums, wacky Wallace and his dear dog Gromit, are plunged has all the earmarks of a classic in the making. Peter Sallis gives voice to the inventor of such practical devices as the slipper attacher, the bed-to-breakfast shute and the cap-on-head-screwing device. But the pieces de resistance are, of course, Wallace's inventions; the Bun-Vac 600, a rabbit collecting machine which consists of a huge vacuum cleaner-like contraption that sucks the bunnies off the field. This humane method has earned him and his loyal (and intelligent) Gromit the awe and respect of the town, whose citizens are English salts of the earth. Indeed, they are all eager vegie growers, the vicar included.
The other major Wallace invention is the Mind-O-Matic, the state of the art and edge of your seat machine that Wallace uses to try and brainwash the rabbits out of eating vegies. With dire consequences.
The detail of the production matches the wit: there are leather bound editions in cheese loving Wallace's library of books like East of Edam and Fromage to Eternity. Their little Anti Pesto van has the rego plate HOP 2IT, and the sharp eyed will catch the brand name of an electric drill as BOTCH. As for the big picture, it's all seamlessly claymated in the refined stop motion method that Nick Park and his team have perfected on such famous outings as A Grand Day Out and The Wrong Trousers. Not to mention their first feature, Chicken Run.
But while the technicalities of the animation are eye popping (in a couple of scenes literally so) it is the resolutely maintained tone of the screenplay that carries the magic. The characters are well defined and the story is suitably absurd so that our immersion in the world of Wallace & Gromit is both comfortingly familiar from previous exposure to that world, and refreshingly extended by the larger story.
The were-rabbit concept is not the only bit of spoofery to adorn the film; there are sneakily witty references to other filmic icons, including King Kong, and a reassuringly old world look and feel to the meticulously built settings.
There are endless delights for children, but Nick Park and his team have included a number of mildly suggestive moments, ranging from double entendres to suggestive visual gags, that add a little grit for the adults - not that anyone could find it childish, even without those gags. There is sufficient characterisation and humour to keep us all amused - and left wanting more.
Email this article
NICK PARK INTERVIEW
WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT (PG)
VOICES: Peter Sallis, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter
PRODUCER: Claire Jennings, Peter Lord, Nick Park, Carla Shelley, David Sproxton
DIRECTOR: Nick Park, Steve Box
SCRIPT: Bob Baker, Steve Box, Nick Park
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dave Alex Riddet, Tristan Oliver
EDITOR: David McCormick, Gregory Perler
MUSIC: Julian Nott (produced by Hans Zimmer)
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Art department: Lorna Cashmore
RUNNING TIME: 84 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Tas, Qld: September 12, 2005; other States: September 15, 2005