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"Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit"

Directed by Nick Park & Steve Box.
Written by Bob Baker, Steve Box and Mark Burton.  Based on characters created by Nick Park. 
Starring the voices of Peter Sallis, Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter.
Release Year:  2005
Review Date:  10/17/2005

Folks-- 

I'm not someone that I can claim to be a big fan of the animated shorts that were made prior to this movie, but certainly the "Wallace & Gromit" series of short films (nominated for three Best Animated Short Film Oscars and winners of two of them) has quite an audience.  With "Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit", creator Nick Park takes his dynamic duo to the big screen for a full-length film for the first time...and it is some quality stuff and makes you understand why these two are so likable.

Wallace (voiced by Peter Sallis) is the mad inventor that does all of the talking; that's because his dog Gromit doesn't do any talking at all.  Together, they fit like a glove, mostly because Wallace seems to be completely witless at times and his faithful dog is always bailing him out of trouble.  In this film--and someone else can tell me if this is always their scheme or if it's just for this feature--Wallace has come up with a way to humanely rid the locals' homes of pests for a price to fund more of his crazy inventions.  One of these inventions, a brainwave monitor that allows him to brainwash some of these pests into no longer being all pest-like, is helpful when Wallace tries to help a rich woman named Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter) rid her estate grounds of wild rabbits.  After bagging a few dozen rabbits and winning the hearts of Tottington and English citizens everywhere, Wallace decides to test out his new brainwave toy...with disastrous results.  Eventually, it's up to Wallace & Gromit to humanely take down a mutated rabbit before a vegetable festival at the end of the week...all while Tottington's suitor Victor Quartermaine (Ralph Fiennes) tries to take out the mutated rabbit himself by violent means.

The biggest surprise to me with "Were-Rabbit" was how funny it was; in particular, the reaction shots of Gromit to almost anything Wallace or the other characters do are fantastic.  You wouldn't think that Park (along with co-director Steve Box) could find ways to always make Gromit covering his mouth in horror funny...but he does!  You also wouldn't think that little touches--Gromit calmly locking his car doors, Gromit knitting, Gromit eating breakfast while waiting for his master to come down to the table--get so many laughs, but they do...Gromit is the lynchpin that makes the movie work.  His fight scene with Quartermaine's dog near the end of the film is the movie's best moment; this is mostly because the evil pooch looks menacing all movie long, then when a toy plane needs to have coins fed to it in order to keep it running, the bad dog whips out a very feminine change purse to feed the meter.  But the silent Gromit has so many great moments in "Were-Rabbit" that he almost makes the film worth the watch by himself.  Or itself.

The animation is great, and much like other stop-motion animation films, the way characters move is just kind of cool to watch; this was maybe the best part about Tim Burton's "Corpse Bride" a few weeks ago, and in a movie where the characters and the story are also strong, this makes for a great package.  "Were-Rabbit" is too long and at times, seems to drag in order to give fans of the series scenes that feel like they will help long-standing fans reconnect with their heroes; an 85-minute film like this is probably only worth 70 minutes of real screen time, if cut correctly.  To its credit, though, "Were-Rabbit" has good pacing even if some of it feels redundant.

Good stuff.  Certainly this is a film that everyone can enjoy, and hopefully folks won't skip this due to the G rating or the feeling that it might be a kids movie; it's just clean entertainment that at times is very funny in a understated, chuckles kind of way.  And now, maybe I'll go back and watch the shorts!

Rating:  $9.50 Show

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09