Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

The were-rabbit is a secretive beast. It emerges at night, prowling back yards, burrowing under fences, intent on violating lovely, green luscious–gardens. This evil monster is the nemesis that Wallace & Gromit face in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

Wallace and his considerably smarter dog, Gromit first appeared in a trio of Academy Award winning shorts in the early 90’s. Those films are simply delightful. The same company, Aardman and director Nick Park, made Chicken Run a few years ago and that too was wonderful. All these projects have an innocent grace to them that I fend very English. They are kinder and gentler than Shrek for instance. Not that there isn’t plenty of humor here for adults. It mostly comes from clever parodies of old movies (Universal horror movies in the case of Were-Rabbit.) In fact, I suspect that adults probably like W&G more than kids, who don’t seem to have the ferocious adoration that they have for other characters. The cheese loving inventor and his dog just may not be manic enough for today’s preteen.

Ah, but who cares what kids think?

W&G are running a pest control service called Anti-Pesto. They specialize in humane treatment of the pests which means all the captured rabbits stay at Wallace’s house on West Wallaby Street as guests. Our intrepid heroes are busy because the annual Giant Vegetable Competition is looming. Their cellar is full. Then the scourge of the were-rabbit strikes and Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter), who runs the competition hires W&G to dispose of the beast. Not everyone approves of the boys’ methods. Victor Quartermaine (Ralph Fiennes) thinks the rabbits should be shot. He’s also wooing Lady Tottingham, with whom Wallace (Peter Sallis) is smitten.

Hilarity ensues and Nick Park and Steve Box, the co-directors, make it look easy, although there is nothing easy about stop action animation. The parodic touches are dead on, from the complex sets and lighting to the camera moves. But this is more than just an exercise in film history. It’s an exciting, funny tale with eccentric characters that you actually care about. And at the climax when Gromit rushes to save the day and the bad puns are flying fast and furious, even the most cynical adult can’t help but enjoy it.

So my advice? Protect your veggies and keep an eye out for the were-rabbit.

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