Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit (2005) *English spoken film

Posted by on Dec 12, 2011 in Foreign | 0 comments

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Disclaimer: Nothing too scary for the young ones, but a bleak presentation of the middle class.

Though it’s a Hollywood production with DreamWorks Animation Studio, the Wallace and Gromit franchise has been a thoroughly British venture since it began as a brainchild of Nick Park in 1982 as a film school graduation project. Shortly after working with the claymation duo and earning some acclaim, Park joined up with Aardman Animations to create three hugely successful shorts, the TV series Creature Comforts, and feature film Chicken Run. Originally the group’s works were hailed in Great Britain, but their success has spread to more than 20 other countries with similar results. Twenty-three years after Wallace and Gromit’s first appearance, the company unleashed this vegetarian horror film following our favorite clumsy, cheese-loving inventor and his patient mutt.

The film and shorts pair WallaceWallace3 (voiced by seasoned British actor Peter Sallis), a mixture of Inspector Gadget and Park’s father, and Gromit, an intelligent dog who always manages to fix his master’s mistakes. Together the duo communicate like Chico and Harpo Marx as one relies on facial expressions and the other constantly misinterprets, and overall they’re more like Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis – a team of perfect opposites in constant struggle for the same goal.

In this story, the duo captures vegetable-destroying rabbits for local farmers hoping to protect their prize-winning produce (Gromit himself has a prize watermelon). With their storage facility approaching capacity, Wallace creates a machine that removes unwanted mental desires in hopes of rehabilitating his bunny captives against vegetable ravaging. But, as you can imagine, his “harmless mind manipulations” go horribly wrong and with the Giant Vegetable Competition only a few days away, they must avoid certain disaster as they are on the “tail” of an animal causing mass chaos. While the town panics, Wallace and masculine hunter Victor Quartermaine (Ralph Fiennes) devise plans to save the event and win the heart of carrot-haired Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham-Carter).

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This entertaining film moves seamlessly between the conventions of comedy (obviously), horror (Hitchcockian matches on action/form and even a humorous parody of King Kong), and noir (street landscapes with mixtures of shadow and key lighting), And it does so via detailed visuals that are so interesting and rich that the film is worth pausing numerous times just to take it all in. Topically, this movie has an interesting commentary regarding class as Wallace clearly represents the working class, Victor the middle class, and Tottington the upper class. While Tottington is treated as angelic (even literally in a church scene), Wallace and Victor represent two complicated types of heroes/villains hoping to earn her heart. Wallace, as we eventually find out, is the horror film monster, while Victor is a heartless killer of animals. Both have good intentions of saving the day. Inevitably, however, the middle class is the more evil one (also literally in the church scene).

The group of only a few dozen animators set to work on this 85-minute film in 2000, each spending an entire day to create three seconds of footage. Yet, this labor of love paid off as BAFTA named it the best British film of the year and it earned an Oscar for best animated film. After more than two decades of entrancing audiences worldwide, I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of Wallace and Gromit and, like their previous amalgamations, Curse of the Were Rabbit is a “hopping” good time that, like the prize-winning carrots, is a feast for the eyes.

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