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Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit (2005)
Directors: Nick Park and Steve Box
review by Jonathan McCalmont
In a way I dreaded seeing this film. I'd hated Chicken Run's simple-mindedness and willingness to sell out for American consumption, and had never seen the Wallace & Gromit shorts as anything other than 'charming'. I only went to see this because I arrived at the cinema too late to see Crash, and dreaded my decision to take a risk when I entered a cinema packed with kids and sat through a few trailers that were so bad that I actually had to restrain myself from standing up, throwing my drink at the screen, and asking what the fuck Dakota Fanning and Kurt Russell were doing in some saccharine monstrosity about horse racing.
Then we had a short featuring the penguins from anaemic cack-fest Madagascar and I startled to settle down. It was pretty funny despite clearly being a cynical marketing ploy to flog DVDs. But then the film itself started and I was utterly blown away.
Wallace and Gromit are running a pest-control business that is doing well protecting prize vegetables from being eaten by bunnies. Wallace tries to cure the bunnies of their ire to eat vegetables and unwittingly creates the were-rabbit, which then begins to feast on all the vegetables in town. Wallace and Gromit have to solve this problem and stop the were-rabbit from being murdered by Victor Quartermain, the vicious posho who is courting Lady Tottington who Wallace also has a crush on.
This film boasts production values that are simply staggering. The animation is so detailed and emotionally expressive that the characters seem utterly real and instantly loveable. The town Aardman have created is also lavishly detailed full of little jokes and winks that you'd miss if you looked away from the screen for even a second. Even the writing is superb as the plot moves wonderfully smoothly without a single moment that seemed dull or flabby. Every second of screen time is filled with purpose and disciplined direction.
The jokes are also wonderful whether it's referencing American Werewolf In London and Watership Down, end-of-the-peer gags that are all the more endearing for the fact that they're under-played and beautifully devised puns and visual gags. As well as a great family action film, this film works amazingly well as a comedy as the gags come thick and fast and nearly all hit the mark. If half the sitcoms on British TV could manage this film's gag rate, Friday nights in would be a much less daunting prospect. I think the likes of Spoons and Balls Of Steel would have to run continuously for a thousand years to be as funny as this film. Park even shows a sense of humour about his own work by creating a rabbit version of Wallace that bumbles around, occasionally saying "cracking cheese Gromit!"
This film is nothing short of an animated tour de force; it simply couldn't be improved upon and deserves to make more money than Jesus' famous chain of wine and fish restaurants. Even the voice acting is superlative, Helena Bonham Carter in particular is wonderful as Totty, shedding her usual roles as under-written love interests in Burton's crushingly boring wank-fests in favour of a posh and yet lovely English rose (which is arguably what she is).
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit is possibly one of the greatest family films ever made.
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