A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 130 – Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit – July 8th, 2010

I’ve loved Wallace and Gromit since the first short film I saw, yet somehow I’ve missed this one until now. I’m not sure why. It’s not an over-hype victim. I’ve just never gotten around to watching it. It’s a bit of fluff really, so it’s never been pressing on my list of things to watch. I’m sure I’d have put it in eventually anyhow, but this is what the project is for. All these movies I just keep passing over for things I’ve seen a million times finally get taken off the shelf (or out of the stack – we have so very many) and watched. I’m sure there will be a couple I regret, but for tonight I’m really quite happy.

I’m going to operate under the assumption that everyone knows Wallace and Gromit and only give a very cursory description of them. Wallace is a middle-aged pasty white bald British man with a fondness for cheese and inventing mechanical gizmos. Gromit is his companion, friend, coworker, more level-headed partner and dog. They do all sorts of things together, and in this movie they’ve got a new business called Anti-Pesto, which makes me very hungry. They spend their evenings catching rabbits from gardens and carting them away. Only to take them home and feed them. Soon their home is infested with rabbits. With little pig noses. It seems the village is having a terrible rabbit problem and the annual giant vegetable contest at Tottingham Hall is coming up.

Wallace and Gromit are called in to help Lady Tottington with a rabbit infestation at the Hall, where they encounter Victor Quartermaine, a local hunter and suitor of Lady Tottingham. He’s very pro-killing whereas Lady Tottingham prefers a more humane approach. And Anti-Pesto is all about humane approaches! Unfortunately, while trying to rehabilitate the rabbits he’s got back at the house, Wallace has a mishap with a mind-control device he’s invented, and thus we end up with a mysterious monster ravaging the village gardens. The Vicar labels it a were-rabbit and Anti-Pesto sets out to capture it before Victor can kill it.

Now, I figured out the twist before there was anything twisty going on. It’s not super surprising or anything. But really, is it supposed to be? The fun is in following Wallace along as he blithely lives his life, convinced that he knows best when really it’s Gromit who’s on the ball. And it’s made rather clear what’s going on about halfway through the movie. Gromit’s always the sensible one, and even though he doesn’t even have a mouth you know from his expressions exactly what he’s thinking. I like Wallace and all, and I can definitely empathize with him when it comes to cheese. Just watching this made me crave that Port Salut I’ve got in the fridge. But Gromit’s my favorite and always will be.

Anyhow, the movie proceeds with the Giant Vegetable Fair and the giant were-rabbit and lots of heroics from Gromit. And plenty of jokes. I think my favorite minor character in this one is the Vicar, with his whole speech about how the monster lurks in all of us, waiting to tear apart vegetables, and his book on nun wrestling and his 24 carrot gold pun. I like the little jokes, like the Anti-Pesto truck’s “heavy loam” setting on its wipers, and the tumble-candy floss. I like that the movie has a Wilhelm. These have always been movies heavy on little details. The plasticine stop-motion animation is painstaking, but allows for so many little things to be incorporated into the sets and characters. So I definitely enjoyed that as I always do. Overall I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite Wallace and Gromit installment. They might just work better in a shorter format really. But it was still a good bit of fun to watch.

July 8, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment

Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit

July 8, 2010

Wallace And Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit

Aardman animation is synonymous with bucktoothed characters with big overbites, so it should not be surprising that the first feature length Wallace and Gromit movie revolves around an infestation of cuddly rabbits. In this, the fourth and longest Wallace and Gromit film, the village where the the cheese-loving inventor and his canny canine sidekick live is feverishly preparing for the annual giant vegetable competition at Tottington Hall (the local English manor house.) Every person in the village, it seems, has a giant vegetable of some sort that they’ve lovingly raised to ridiculously gargantuan proportions. In the mean time Wallace and Gromit are no longer window washers, but have started a humane rabbit catching business called Anti-Pesto. They capture every rabbit they can find in the village and store them all in cages in their basement.

Things take a rather odd turn when an attempt to brainwash the captive bunnies so that they will no longer desire vegetables goes awry, and a horrible beast is brought into existence. By the light of the full moon the were-rabbit is brought forth – a gargantuan bunny which wreaks havoc upon the poor village and their helpless vegetables.

It’s a fun but quick adventure. Nick Park does a good job of expanding the usual Wallace and Gromit adventure formula to fill almost an hour and a half without it feeling like he’s really padding the film at any point. But I can’t help feeling that there’s a sort of “been there – seen that” feel to the whole affair. In my mind there’s never been a better Wallace and Gromit adventure than The Wrong Trousers and although I realize that the two are the signature Aardman franchise I kind of wish they wouldn’t keep trying to top it. No bad-guy has been as nefarious as the silent penguin (who disguised himself as a chicken to commit his crimes.) No climactic chase could possibly compare to the miniature train track laying bit.

Oh, sure, it’s fun to see more of Wallace’s crazy Goldbergian contraptions. And yes, it’s fun to see Gromit still quietly saving the day with his combination of common sense and swashbuckling bravado. But I can’t help feeling that the whole movie is too direct a descendant of the short films and doesn’t have much of its own to add to the formula. (Gromit even has once again a silent dog adversary.)

Having recently just re-watched Chicken Run I can honestly say that I enjoyed it more. Mostly because it explored new territory, while at the same time keeping so much of the Nick Park and Aadrman charm. Sometime soon I’m going to have to add Flushed Away and see how that film stacks up. (I realize it’s computer animated rather than stop motion claymation, but it keeps the quintessential Nick Park aesthetic.)

July 8, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | Leave a comment