Release Date:  October 7, 2005 (wide release)
Rating:  G
Genre:  Animation/Drama
Run Time:  87 min.
Director:  Steve Box and Nick Park
Actors:  Peter Sallis, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Peter Kay, and Nicholas Smith

They say that “details make the professional,” and this adage is certainly true in the newest Wallace & Gromit animated family film. The third in the W&G series, after “The Wrong Trousers” (’93) and “A Close Shave” (’95), “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” is the fruit of a five-year filmmaking project that certainly spared no time or expense in its attention to creative detail.

Though it looks like “clay-mation,” apparently this movie was done with “plasticene,” and any imperfections seen (such as what appears to be fingerprints in the “clay” bunnies) were added through computer effects. The crew of 250 people used 44  pounds of glue each month (for five years!) to stick the sets down, and there are over 700 shots that contain some kind of digital effects work, such as drifting fog and bunny rabbits being sucked up through a “Bun-Vac.” The realism, lighting, and general appeal of each set are truly amazing. Kids of all ages will appreciate the adorable inventions that Wallace & Gromit have created – including one that wakes up Wallace with the smell of cheese and sends him sliding down a chute, into his outfit and onto his chair at the breakfast table. 

That being said, as with any movie, no matter how dazzling the effects, it all comes down to the story, and this one gets a solid B+. 

Wallace (Peter Sallis) plays his usual sweet and inventive, but slightly clueless, nutty-professor-type Brit, who is unknowingly and continually bolstered through life by his silent, but brilliant dog, Gromit. Though they have a remarkable reputation for having rid the town of garden pests through their amazing contraptions and their “Anti-Pesto” company, they find that a mysterious, vegetable-ravaging beast, which is wildly consuming produce only days before the annual Giant Vegetable Competition, suddenly outmatches them. To make matters worse, their West Wallaby Street home is overflowing with the rabbits they've so humanely captured over the years.

The townspeople react in all sorts of ways, including the priest pulling out his giant book of monsters, which shows a horrifying “were-rabbit” and gives ideas for its demise. The town’s wealthy benefactor, Lady Tottington (voice of Helena Bonham Carter) hires Anti-Pesto to catch the were-rabbit and save the competition. Ever in the background, however, is Lady Tottington’s two-faced pursuer, Victor Quartermaine (voice of Ralph Fiennes), who prefers to hunt and shoot the beast, thereby ensuring his heroism among the people and securing a fast engagement to Lady Tottington.

Though she has a bleeding heart for the furry little creatures, Lady Tottington is finally forced to allow Victor to hunt down the menacing hare and save the town. Little does she know, however, that Victor’s plan might not be as charitable as he initially promised and that his actions might have dire consequences – not just for her, the competition, and the townspeople, but also for a certain member of the Anti-Pesto for whom she suddenly has strong feelings.

With no overt moral lesson in the story – beyond “let’s be humane to the animals” or “can we really change one’s basic nature” -- the movie is nonetheless clever family entertainment for the fall.  The humor is that witty, often dry British comedy, and there are plenty of jokes for the adults.  Actually, there are some jokes that dance right on the edge. For instance, in one scene, Lady Tottington is holding two melons in front of her and saying something along the lines of, “Victor never appreciated my produce, you know.” And when Wallace falls out of a contraption naked, he quickly covers his private parts with a box that reads, “May contain nuts.” 

The only other issue with that slight “cringe value,” as they say, is the fact that the town’s minister is portrayed as fearful, selfishly ambitious, and a weak leader.  He has a book of monsters in his library and has hidden away some golden bullets to kill the were-rabbit – just in case.

On the whole, however, the cringe factors in “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” will probably go over the heads of children, and both kids and adults will likely appreciate the wit, creative animation, gadgets and gizmos and especially the brilliant attention to detail.

AUDIENCE:  Children and adults

OBJECTIONABLE CONTENT:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  None
  • Language:  None
  • Sex:  None, though ever-so-slight innuendos
  • Violence:  Mild, cartoonish, slapstick violence including guns