A couple of months before I was able to grab a hold of a copy of “Were-rabbit”, I was able to catch on television the three shorts of the adventures of “Wallace and Gromit”. They’re three claymation shorts that earned a massive cult following. Usually, it’s very hip to say that anything nominated for an Oscar isn’t that good, but “Wallace and Gromit” is one of those Oscar properties that really did get the praise it deserved. Trust when I say this, Wallace and Gromit is far from overrated.
Nick Park’s eccentric duo make up some of the funniest animated films I’ve ever seen, and finally comes the full length feature film “Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-rabbit”. Normally, though, I’m not a fan of claymation, save for Harryhausen. I think it’s too rigid, but Park’s characters more than make up for it here. For the uninitiated, Wallace is a single inventor, with an insatiable love for cheese, who lives in England. He and his companion Gromit perform odd jobs for cash, and Wallace creates inventions that often do more damage than good. Gromit, his dog, is the sane one in the duo. He’s long suffering, and tolerant of his master’s misadventures in the end reacting to each antic and foible with a roll of the eyes, or a bat of the brow.
Normally, the animal would be the one causing all this calamity and destruction, but have no doubt, Gromit is the stable one who keeps his master in check and always manages to save the day. Which isn’t to say Wallace causes trouble. He’s just too naive, innocent, and optimistic to understand when trouble is lurking and that he may actually be doing more harm than good. In “Were-rabbit” Wallace and Gromit are now humane rabbit catchers who help aide the locals in keeping rabbits off their property with odd methods in lieu of the giant vegetable competition coming soon. When Wallace attempts to brainwash the rabbits to keep away from vegetables, it backfires, and one of the rabbits are effected more than he knows. Now the rabbit, a giant monster, has a ravenous taste for human… vegetables. What did you think?
It’s a kids movie for god sake! Suffice it to say the translation from short subject to feature length is seamless, and the story is long enough to where it never feels as if Park is padding the story for the sake of the film. Park and Box’ direction is bright and sunny without ever being florescent or painful on the eyes, and the mood is always light enough for kids to enjoy. Thankfully, Park earns my respect by keeping original voice actor Peter Sallis much to the contention of Dreamworks. Sallis’ voice work is as good as ever here, and there are great performances from Helena Bonham Carter, and Ralph Fiennes. Fiennes plays Quartermaine, a hunter who is intent on killing the rabbits, and when he discovers the rabbit monster, is determined to kill it with gold bullets. Gold bullets, you ask? The reasoning for it will have you in tears. Meanwhile, what I loved about “The Curse of the Were-rabbit” is it’s one of the rare family films that both children and adults will enjoy.
Films of such caliber are immensely rare in this day and age, so “Were-rabbit” is a gem. With the usual unique and hilarious animation –and some computer animation–“Were-rabbit” never misses a beat from its original source material inserting the same wit, sharp one-liners, and double entendres of the oldies. There are also many hilarious gags that had me laughing aloud, my favorite being the female were-rabbit marionette. Park’s duo is as funny as ever, and he adds some supporting characters of equal hilarity. The foreseeing priest, the angry old woman refusing to let her giant pumpkin be eaten, and Hutch. Who’s Hutch? Watch the movie. “Were-rabbit” is very much in the spirit of Looney Tunes; there are even many references to Bugs Bunny.
Wallace & Gromit, though, show yet again why they deserve to be put in the animation hall of fame as the Laurel & Hardy archetype sans the madcap. Wallace is one of the sweetest and funniest characters in animation, while Gromit is such a devoted friend in spite of the trouble Wallace gets him in to. To outsiders it looks as if Wallace just keeps getting him in to bad situations, but to Gromit, it’s just another day. I was more than satisfied with this on-screen interpretation, and “Were-Rabbit” gives the fans what we wanted. This is a kids film everyone can enjoy, this is a kids film of substance, character, depth, and humor that doesn’t talk down to them. “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” is a rare children’s film that everyone will love, and Park pays respect to his characters with a fun, exciting and very funny big screen adaptation.