Toon Talk - From the Other Side: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
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Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the
England’s Aardman Animation and creator Nick Park introduced the characters of Wallace, a crackin’ good inventor with a constant craving for cheese, and Gromit, his no-nonsense dog who is always rescuing his master from one perilous adventure after another (usually brought on by one of Wallace’s own wacky inventions), in the 1989 animated short A Grand Day Out. In retrospect, their trip the moon (it is made of cheese, you know) was an inauspicious debut, although it was nominated for an Academy Award (it lost to Creature Comforts, another Claymation confection directed by Park).
It wasn’t until their second outing, 1993’s The Wrong Trousers, that the duo brought home the gold and glory with a delirious escapade involving a fugitive penguin, a mechanical pair of pants and an elaborate miniature train set. Wallace and Gromit (and Park) won the Oscar this go round, rightfully so, as it was not only the best animated short that year, but also one of the best animated shorts ever.
Their next outing would win yet another Oscar: 1995’s A Close Shave added in a romantic interest for Wallace as well as a whole flock of cotton ball sheep and a giant shearing machine. If it wasn’t quite as loony a toon as Trousers, it did cement their popularity amongst fans of animation and British humor, mostly via home video.
It has been ten long years since Wallace and Gromit’s last big-screen appearance, a decade that saw Aardman nixing an arrangement with Disney and taking up with DreamWorks instead. The first collaboration between the two, 2000’s giddy Great Escape homage, Chicken Run, was both a popular and critical success. Park and company then turned to another original idea, an adaptation of the Tortoise and the Hare fable that never quite got off the ground. After that disappointment, it was decided their next project would feature their original stars in their first full-length movie.
As anyone who has had the misfortune to see such dreadful television-to-film adaptations as the recent Bewitched or Dukes of Hazard can attest, it is not always easy for characters and their stories accustomed to shorter running times to be stretched out into a full-fledged feature. More often then not, it just doesn’t work. However, I’m delighted to say that Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is the happy exception to the rule. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more laugh-out-loud comedy, animated or live action, all year.
At the start of the film, we find Wallace (once again impeccably voiced by Peter Sallis) and Gromit (who rivals Harpo Marx in wonderful wordlessness) are hard at work with their new pest control business, dubbed Anti-Pesto. All their clients are eagerly awaiting the annual Giant Vegetable Competition, so our heroes’ services are in high demand. Just days before the big event, terror strikes the community in the form of a monstrous, veg-eating behemoth who ravishes the prized gardens of all in the tiny hamlet. It falls to Anti-Pesto to track down and capture this mysterious beast, although they may be more connected to it then they realize.