Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) / Animation-Comedy

MPAA Rated: G, suitable for all audiences (I'd rate it PG for some mild innuendo)
Running Time: 85 min.

Cast (voices): Peter Sallis, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Peter Kay, Nicholas Smith
Director: Steve Box, Nick Park
Screenplay: Bob Baker, Steve Box, Mark Burton
Review published October 26, 2005

Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit represents the fourth animated adventure for the crafty human Wallace and his faithful, resourceful dog, Gromit.  It is also the first feature-length film for these characters, although creator Nick Park did score big five years before with his popular stop-motion animated outing, Chicken Run.  It's not all stop-motion, as there are many CGI-laden elements blended in, but that doesn't take away from the fact that this is a very satisfying and quality work by all involved. 

In this episode, Wallace and Gromit are enjoying the fruits of their labor in their successful pest control venture, Anti-Pesto, which is especially popular now that the small English town they reside in is gearing up for their annual "Giant Vegetable Contest".  Rabbits threaten to do some harm to the local crop, but our heroes come prepared with the Bun-Vac, a vacuum to suck up the rodents where they hide.  Ever the inventor, Wallace comes up with a newfangled contraption to try to get the bunnies to no longer want vegetables, but the plan backfires when a giant killer rabbit emerges, stalking through the town at night and threatening to ruin everyone's crop.  Wallace and Gromit are out to catch the beast, unless the haughty hired hunter Victor Quatermaine (voiced by Ralph Fiennes, Maid in Manhattan) gets to him first.

Unlike many other animated features, Wallace & Gromit isn't trying to hock merchandise to kids, dazzle you with empty special effects smorgasbords, or give you a heartwarming morality tale to explain why family is important.  That's not to say this isn't a marketable or visually unappealing creation either, as it is definitely a film that will be popular for nearly every group, and the level of detail in the animation is quite stunning despite the claymation effect.  However, where Park's creations soar above the rest of the competition is in his characterizations.  We like Wallace and Gromit, and enjoy the peek into their little world, so much so that no matter where the story leads us, we follow with a smile.  The many sight gags and aural allusions makes it difficult to not pay attention, as we may miss out on some little joke the animators liberally throw in.  In particular, although this is a G rated film, there are quite a few double entendres thrown in for good measure.  Either that or I just have a naturally filthy mind.

You don't have to see the three previous short films featuring Wallace and Gromit to be fully enthralled by The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, but it's a safe bet that many will likely seek them out after watching this for the first time.  With infectious charm and oodles of genuine warmth, to dislike such a wonderful creation would require a great deal of willful determination -- or perhaps a bit of Wallace's mind-altering aversion therapy. 

 Qwipster's rating:

2005 Vince Leo