Steve Box and Nick Park
A word of warning regarding the new stop-motion claymation comedy from Aardman Animations, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit: watching it will be a painful experience. Don’t worry, it is not a bad film. Far from it: your face will ache from 85 minutes of non-stop smilling.
The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit finds eccentric inventor Wallace (voiced by his television incarnation Peter Sallis) and his silent but sharp dog Gromit cashing in on a rabbit infestation in their neighbourhood with their humane pest-control outfit Anti-Pesto. With business booming and only days to go before the annual Giant Vegetable Competition, into which Gromit has entered some veg, the duo realise that running a humane pest control outfit has its drawbacks as their house fills to the brim with incarcerated rabbits.
As if an overcrowded house is not enough of a problem, a huge, mysterious, vegetable ravaging beast has begun to attack the town’s sacred vegetable plots at night. The competition hostess Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter), commissions Anti-Pesto to catch the beast. But lying in wait is Lady Tottington’s snooty would-be suitor Victor Quartermaine (Ralph Fiennes), who would rather take care of the beast in a more inhumane way thus securing the position of local hero – and Lady Tottington’s hand in marriage.
As with Aardman’s previous full-length feature, 2000’s enchanting Chicken Run, The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit features something for everyone. While the children in the audience will be drawn to the superbly animated characters (it boggles the mind how long it must take to make a film of this type) and the silly adventures they experience, adults will appreciate the assured directing of Nick Park and Steve Box backed by the sharp wit, focused storytelling and multitude of genre spoofs and cheeky double entendres in the screenplay by Park, Box, Mark Burton and Bob Baker.
Sallis once again provides the cheery, optimistic voice of Wallace, while Bonham Carter and Fiennes shine as Tottington and Quartermaine. In fact, Fiennes delivers his role with such relish that you can easily visualize him grinning from ear to ear as he recorded his lines. Who can blame him? It must be a welcome break from the excellent but sombre dramas he is usually associated with such as Schindler’s List, The English Patient and The Constant Gardener. Who would blame him if he had done back flips when offered this box of delights?
If you are like me and had worried whether the beloved Wallace & Gromit series would survive the transition from 30-minute short to feature-length Hollywood product, you can put your fears to rest. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is an absolute delight from start to finish, without question one of the better commercial offerings we have had this year.