Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit (England 2005)

Rating: ****
Release Date: 10/7/05
Director: Nick Park
Cast: Peter Sallis, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes

Astounding and highly enjoyable! Harebrained inventor Wallace (Peter Sallis) and his amazing dog Gromit have gone into the home security business, making sure that everyone's vegetables are safe for the upcoming annual vegetable competition. Wallace finds himself lovestruck when Lady Tottington herself (Helena Bonham Carter) calls upon him to deal with her rabbit problem, but in the process acquires a bitter rival in the form of Lord Victor Quartermaine (Ralph Fiennes). When an experiment goes haywire, Wallace unwittingly unleashes a horrible monster on the town which is hellbent on eating everyone's prized vegetables. Wallace and Gromit have their hands full trying to apprehend the beast, which threatens to ruin the festival.

It seems that Nick Park and Aardman Studios keep telling the same Wallace and Gromit story over and over, but the good thing is that each iteration keeps getting better. By the far the weakest aspect of the Wallace and Gromit films has been the tedious pacing, which made "A Grand Day Out" (1989) nearly unbearable to watch. Each subsequent film has improved, and "Curse Of The Were-Rabbit" moves along at a constant and very pleasant pace. The cuts are quicker and the camera work is very dynamic, which keeps the viewer constantly engaged. Another weak point in the series has been Wallace's annoying idiocy, which seriously tries the viewer's patience. Fortunately, the larger cast of "Curse Of The Were-Rabbit" rounds out the performances and allows less time to be spent focussing on Wallace's moronic antics. The story is quite amusing, and the writing is full of wicked puns and humorous sexual innuendo. Unfortunately, the whole thing falls apart in the final act, and the inexplicable ending seems like a cop-out and is far too convenient. The animation, as you would expect, is flawless and utterly fantastic. Probably the best looking claymation film ever made, taking five years to complete. Animation buffs are guaranteed to be positively giddy over the whole thing.

Interestingly enough, Dreamworks successfully upstages the whole film with an opening short featuring the "Madagascar" (2005) penguins celebrating Christmas. I never bothered to see "Madagascar," but this insanely funny film makes me want to. It's a non-stop comedy riot as the penguins have to rescue one of their own from a cranky old woman and her terrorizing miniature poodle. I've rarely had such a pure and delightful entertainment experience, and I hope the "Curse Of The Were-Rabbit" DVD includes this wonderful gem.