STUDIO: Dreamworks/Aardman
RUNNING TIME: 85 Minutes
Deleted Scenes
Several BTS Featurettes
Aardman Short Film "Stage Fright"
Feature Commentary
Set-Top Games and activities

Admittedly, I wasn’t entirely familiar with Wallace & Gromit before watching this. I knew the characters, knew a small bit of the history but had never seen any of the three existing shorts so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect going in. All I knew was that the marketing had sold me and, even as ignorant on the source material as I was, my expectations were rather high, considering.

Always loyal, Gromit tested every one of Wallace’s inventions, even the more…questionable ones.

The Flick

For the un-initiated, Wallace & Gromit are a "Man & His Dog" duo that live in England. Wallace, while being a brilliant inventor, is a little on the slow side and, at times, naïve. His counterpart, Gromit, serves not only as Wallace’s faithful pet but his business partner, best friend and usually the saver-of-the-day when one of Wallace’s schemes goes awry. Such was the case in A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave, and such is the case here.

The Curse of the Were-Rabbit opens with the announcement of the Giant Vegetable Competition at Tottington Hall. Seemingly everyone in town (including Gromit) is keen on that Golden Carrot trophy and have all grown giant vegetables to enter into the competition. All the gardens in town are under the watchful eye of our duo’s Vegetable Protection Agency, Anti-Pesto. With alarms, traps and security systems installed all over town, Wallace & Gromit are able to spring into action (literally) and round up any sort of threat to the town’s various crops, those threats usually being bunnies.

Most boxes do at one point or another.

Because of Anti-Pesto’s humane treatment of the captured rabbits (they just take them home and feed them carrots) they’re called into service when Lady Tottington, the hostess of the Giant Vegetable Competition, discovers a bunny infestation on her estate. "Totti" (Helena Bonham Carter) is a woman who, despite her immense wealth, has a certain sensitivity about her and a lack of the snobbish qualities usually associated with the very wealthy. Her approachability sets her up as a love interest for Wallace, and she ultimately becomes the driving force in all of his decision-making from then on. We’re also introduced to Victor (Ralph Fiennes), Totti’s malicious boyfriend, who immediately sees Wallace as a threat to his pursuit of Lady Tottington and her various assets. After all the bunnies have been captured by the BunVac6000, Lady Tottington makes the comment to Wallace that she would love to let them run free if it wasn’t for their unchangeable love for vegetables. Wallce, determined to impress the lady, decides to do just that and runs the bunnies through his mind-manipulation-o-matic machine, hoping to rehabilitate their love for veg. Of course, something goes wrong and it isn’t long before a giant Were-Rabbit begins terrorizing the town, eating everyone’s crops and ruining our heroes’ reputations. So, naturally, they have to save the day.

And that’s basically it in a two-paragraph nutshell. There’s a bit of a mystery surrounding who the Were-Rabbit is (and honestly, the big reveal came as a surprise to me so I won’t spoil it here in case you haven’t already seen it), but the real story revolves around our team’s rally to clear their good name and Wallace’s desire to win the favor of his lady. Everything plugs along at a nice pace, although there is a little bit of a drag once the big reveal happens and it tries to re-compose itself for the big finale (which it does gloriously). The main characters are extremely well-defined with Wallace being blinded by love and Gromit having to reign him in, and speaking of Gromit, it’s been said a thousand times so I’ll just touch on it, but it is actually amazing how much life and emotion they can get out of Gromit by just moving his eyebrows. It’s a great credit to the animators.

Prison had an effect on Sideshow Bob and it manifested itself in telling ways.

Anyway, aside from our main cast there’s also a delightful slew of supporting characters. PC Macintosh, with his overstated police moustache is great as the one person in town who really doesn’t get what all this vegetable nonsense is all about. The Vicker, with his snow-white afro and amazing smile really sells it as the "The End is Near" character and is one of the more lively characters of the bunch (who also gets the best bad joke in the movie). Mrs. Mulch and the rest of the township, who care only about their vegetables and winning the Golden Carrot, round out the rest of the cast. However, the true stars of the show (aside from the titular duo) are the bunnies. Practically every bunny seen has a personality of their own and they’re given so much charm and personality they’re almost irresistible. When the Were-Rabbit howls at the moon and pounds his chest, the regular bunnies do the same thing and emit this cute, squeaky little howl that’s just adorable (sorry Sackley – still not gay). There’s another scene involving Wallace’s BunVac and a bunny’s "out-of-body" experience that is incredibly funny, but, even as charming as that all is, none of it comes close to Hutch. I can’t really go into what Hutch is without spoiling a little bit of the film but I will say he is probably my second favorite character in the film, next to Gromit.

All that said, I think it’s fairly clear that I love this movie. It’s amazingly charming and understated and it’s impressive that they were able to make the adaptation from half-hour shorts to a major Hollywood Feature and still keep everything as understated and simple as it originally was. It’s a refreshing family film that doesn’t try to bridge the generational gap, but rather ignores it. It’s not a kid’s movie that winks at the adults, it’s not an adult movie that panders to the kids, it’s just a film. It’s only ambition is to entertain, which it does wonderfully and it really doesn’t matter who’s watching. There is no target audience here and I think that’s a great thing.

8.0 out of 10

Aardman’s next project? A feature-length adaptation of RE4.

The Look

Beautiful. Stop-Motion animation at it’s finest. Everything is extremely well lit, with characters and set pieces popping off the screen with vibrant colors and incredibly precise and fluid animation. The transfer is equally as good, with all of the night scenes and blacks being crisp and even, with not a trace of artifacting. A wonderful job by all involved.

9.0 out of 10

The Noise

The soundtrack here is offered up in your choice Dolby 5.1 or 2.0 and is mastered wonderfully. Julian Nott’s score is perfectly understated to match the tone of the film and even in the darker, more dramatic moments maintains that almost bubbly quality of the main theme without being too intrusive. The surround track is good, but it could have been a little better as they only really take advantage of the rear channels towards the end and there were so many opportunities to make all five speakers sing.

7.0 out of 10

Motherly Love!
You’d cry too if your son was Carrot Top.

The Goodies

Stacked. There are a slew of Behind the Scenes featurettes, although only one of them really goes into detail on the whole process. That one is How to Build a Bunny in which one of the sculptors explains how to sculpt the bunnies seen in the film. It’s very in-depth and, yeah, after watching it I went to the store and bought a lot of Play-Dough and made bunnies. Three of them. And a sheep. Which was actually fun and would be a great project with the kiddos. There’s a "How Wallace & Gromit Got to Hollywood" documentary that tells the story of Aardman, Nick Park and his creations which was pretty interesting and a "Day in the Life of Aardman" featurette that flew by without spending time on any one topic and seemed to be pulled straight from the EPK. There’s also Steve Box’s short film, Stage Fright, which, honestly, wasn’t all that good story-wise and was kind of hard to sit through, although the commentary track for it was fairly interesting. And speaking of commentary, there’s a feature commentary with Nick Park and Steve Box that, while mildly interesting, sort of painted the guys as either afraid of the microphone or just incredibly boring. You could tell they were proud of what they had made and even though there was some decent information on the stuff that was cut out or changed, these guys just didn’t deliver it. They really seemed nervous.

Above and beyond that there were some deleted scenes (with commentary) and some DreamWorks Kids materials including an Anti-Pesto game and activities with Totti and Victor.

7.0 out of 10

Switch Hitter!
Gramma told you this would happen.

The Artwork

I’m actually torn on the artwork. The main design has our heroes in full Bunny Riot Gear, oblivious to the giant Were-Rabbit silhouette behind them. It’s actually a great design but there’s something about the title logo that just kills it. I don’t know what it is but it makes this whole thing seem like a cheap DTV effort. Which is kind of sad.

4.0 out of 10

Overall: 7.0 out of 10