WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT
Hilarious, Fun, Broad, and Deep
Starring: Peter Sallis, Ralph Fiennes
and Helena Bonham-Carter
Audience: Older children to adults
Runtime: 85 minutes
Director: Nick Park and Steve Box
Executive Producer: Jeffrey Katzenberg
Producer: Peter Lord, David Sproxton,
Nick Park, Claire Jennings,
and Carla Shelley
Writer: Nick Park, Steve Box, Bob
Baker, and Mark Burton
Address Comments To:David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg
1000 Flower Street
Glendale, CA 91201
Phone: (818) 695-5000
Wallace and his dog, Gromit, have a humane pest business called Anti-Pesto. Every year, Lady Tottingham has a largest vegetable contest for the local town, which is the high point of the year. Her family has been hosting this for several hundred years. There have been a few problematic years, such as the year of the giant slugs. This year, the rabbits are out of control.
Wallace, with his retro-futuristic inventions, some of which are hilarious, has captured most of the offensive rabbits, which are now fed and housed in the basement of his row house. Lady Tottingham's suitor, Victor Quartermain, a bombastic con man voiced by Ralph Fiennes, prefers to shoot the rabbits. He is always extolling his own virtues, such as "What you see is what you get," at which point his wig falls off.
Wallace invents a mind-changing machine. He connects it to the rabbits and to himself. He thinks such thoughts into the rabbits that they wouldn't want vegetables. Naturally, something goes wrong and the machine breaks. Suddenly, the town's vegetables are being terrorized by a giant were-rabbit who comes out only during the full moon, reminiscent of Lon Chaney, Jr.'s werewolf.
The wishy-washy local Reverend says some prayers for the annual vegetable fair, puts some vegetables on the altar and is confronted by the were-rabbit. In classic horror movie fashion, he tries to hide behind a makeshift cross he holds, but the were-rabbit does not seem deterred. Lady Tottingham's suitor wants to kill the were-rabbit with golden bullets. Gromit suspects that the were-rabbit is Wallace and tracks him down.
Can Gromit save Wallace in time and turn him back into the mild-mannered inventor? Will the evil suitor shoot Wallace? Will all the vegetables be eaten up? Will Lady Tottingham get the man of her dreams, Wallace? These and many other questions are pursued with hilarious vigor in this movie packed with one sight gag after another.
Having interviewed the directors, it should be pointed out that these sight gags are intentional. Many of them make older audiences laugh uncontrollably, while younger audiences will laugh at the simple puns and ridiculous situations. Some of the gags are the were-rabbit climbing up the side of the building just like King Kong. Also, Gromit, riding in an amusement park airplane, is followed by the Red Baron, like Snoopy in PEANUTS. The more classic movies you've watched, the more meaning there is in this movie.
Gromit is willing to sacrifice himself for his master. Wallace is willing to sacrifice himself for Gromit. Good triumphs over evil. And, fun is had by everyone.
That said, this movie does have some light sexual innuendo, which older audiences will notice. For example, Lady Tottingham's phony suitor, Victor, makes veiled sexual wisecracks about their upcoming relationship. WALLACE & GROMIT also is anti-hunter and pro-animal. In fact, Gromit is always the savior of Wallace, and everyone wants to protect the poor bunnies. Since almost the whole movie is tongue in cheek, these politically correct references are not oppressive. Finally, the local Reverend is a little weak and slightly superstitious, but is otherwise a decent person. Conservative members in the screening audience were not offended by these elements because of the movie's light, witty touch.
This is one of the superb animation movies that have come out lately. Like MADAGASCAR and THE INCREDIBLES, the production quality is superior. It does not have the strong redemptive heart of FINDING NEMO or CHICKEN RUN, but it does have the intense humor of SHREK and should capture a large audience at the box office.
CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT is a hilarious, superbly animated send-up of classic horror movies from Hollywood's Golden Age. It has a strong moral worldview with overt references to self-sacrifice, but there is some very light sexual innuendo and politically correct humor against hunting and in favor of the humane treatment of animals. Also, the local Anglican vicar is a little weak and slightly superstitious. Nearly the entire movie is tongue-in-cheek, however, so these elements are not oppressive. WALLACE & GROMIT is more like a lighter, English version of the SHREK movies than FINDING NEMO.