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Wallace and Gromit’s ‘Curse’ is a charm

Erin McGinn | Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Even though there are no state-of-the-art computer graphics, Steve Box and Nick Park’s “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” is easily a contender for the best-animated movie of the year. It is a funny and light-hearted comedy that everyone can easily enjoy.

In a world where Pixar and computer animation reign supreme, the return to the days of stop-motion “clay-mation” is refreshing, especially when it brings some familiar faces back with it. After spending five years in production, Wallace and Gromit finally hit the big screen in their first feature-length picture.

The duo have been popular with people of all ages through the world since 1989 when they first appeared in the short flick “A Grand Day Out,” which was nominated for the Best Animated Short Oscar. They appeared in two more short films, “The Wrong Trousers” (1993) and “A Close Shave.” (1995). These Oscar-winners were wildly popular in their home country of England and achieved marked success throughout the world.

The movies follow Wallace, the cheese-loving, ambitious, but simple-minded inventor who is always getting himself into scrapes of all kinds. As in all of their films, it is up to Wallace’s dog Gromit to save the day. Bucking the trend of talkative animated animals, Gromit never utters a word, yet still manages to express himself better than some actors in Hollywood.

In “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit,” directed by Steve Box and Nick Park, Wallace (voiced by Peter Sallis) and Gromit run a rabbit-catching business, Anti-Pesto, to protect the vegetables that townspeople are growing for the annual Giant Vegetable Competition.

Since this is a humane business, the duo quickly ran out of cages to keep all of the captured rabbits contained. Wallace comes up with an invention to solve everything: After one of Wallace’s quirky inventions goes awry, a monstrous rabbit is created, allowing for ever-amusing parodies of classic horror films, like “Frankenstein” and “King Kong.”

The Were-Rabbit begins to devour the townspeople’s prized vegetables and it becomes up to Wallace and Gromit to save the day. Along the way, Wallace tries to impress Lady Campanula (voiced by Helen Bonham Carter), who promotes Anti-Pesto’s humane treatment of the rabbits, while at the same time competing against her suitor Victor Quartermaine (voiced by Ralph Fiennes), who would rather get rid of his problems with his gun.

There is very little wrong with “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.” The animation is practically flawless; the stop-motion animation is fluid throughout. Although a few children in the audience are likely to dislike the fact that it is not CGI, the movie should please everyone who grew up with a steady stream of clay-mation movies and television shows.

The script is superb and has something that everyone, young and old, will enjoy. It provides plenty of slapstick and goofiness to keep young kids laughing, as well as clever “adult” jokes for the older crowd, much like “Shrek” and other recent animated movies.

There is also plenty of on-screen humor to warrant repeated viewings, with everything from the labels on containers in the kitchen, to pictures hanging on the walls in the various houses. Seeing as how the previous “Wallace and Gromit” movies were all short films, the directors/writers did a good job of extending their work into a full-length movie.

This movie is well worth seeing, especially with Halloween just around the corner. And for the fans of the previous movies, there’s nothing to worry about, Wallace and Gromit are as great as ever.