Wallace & Gromit in
The Curse of the Were-rabbit
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Nick Park, Steve Box
scr Steve Box, Nick Park, Bob Baker, Mark Burton
voices Peter Sallis, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Peter Kay, Liz Smith, Nicholas Smith, John Thomson
release US 7.Oct.05, UK 14.Oct.05
05/UK DreamWorks 1h25

Cracking toast: Gromit and Wallace

bonham carter fiennes

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Wallace & Gromit The three half-hour Wallace and Gromit shorts were nominated for Oscars, and two of them won (the first lost to another Nick Park short). These are such classics that the pressure was really on as Park moved these matchless characters into a feature-length film. But we didn't need to worry.

Wallace the inventor (voiced by Sallis) and his brainy pooch Gromit are now running Anti-Pesto, a humane service protecting vegetables from hungry rabbits in the weeks leading up to the big competition. Now even Lady Tottington (Bonham Carter) has asked for Wallace's help, leading to a series of flirty conversations that enrage her frightfully high-class suitor Victor (Fiennes). When a giant rabbit starts devouring prized vegetables, Victor gets out his gun, while Wallace tries to find a less fatal way to save the day.

Astonishingly, Park packs every minute just as densely as in the short films, establishing the characters for those unfamiliar with them and then roaring through an outlandish plot that riffs on classic monster movies. There are so many details in each scene that it's impossible to take them in; and the figures are wonderfully made of clay, fingerprints and all, which adds terrific texture. While the script delightfully jumbles film cliches with high action and inventive gags to keep us laughing and occasionally shrieking.

The vocal cast is likewise superb. Sallis once again gives Wallace a terrific everyman quality--the scatterbrained genius who's too thick to realise that his mute (but very expressive) dog Gromit gets him out of every scrape. Bonham Carter and especially Fiennes are hysterically posh, augmented by genius character animation. And it's accompanied by more of Julian Nott's roaring musical score.

Even more so than Aardman's only other feature, the terrific Chicken Run, this film is nearly bursting with wit--pointed puns, sharp satire, nutty pastiche, cute silliness and lots of old chestnut gags. The action climax alone seamlessly mixes about five film genres. And while it's all rather empty-headed and ridiculous, it's not dull for a second. Even the aerial bunny ballet through the closing credits is worth giggling through.

cert U suspense, innuendo 18.Sep.05

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2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall