Directed by Nick Park and Steve Box (Box’s Feature Directorial Debut)
Cheese obsessed Wallace (voiced by the late Peter Sallis) and his loyal and mute dog Gromit are humane pest control agents operating Anti-Pesto Pest Control and attempting to save their village from a rabbit infestation before the annual vegetable festival at Tottington Hall when Wallace’s latest invention has unintended consequences.
This film has an undeniable charm due in large part to it embracing the silliness of it all. The story just has fun with the silly idea of a vegetable chomping were-rabbit. The story follows most of the beats of your standard werewolf film. Wallace is ignorant at first of what is going on much like the victim is in most werewolf movies with Gromit being the one that pieces things together. They reference werewolf mythology with a specific type of bullet (here one made of 24 carat gold–pun intended) that must be used to kill the creature. Much like Universal’s Wolfman there is even a love triangle occurring.
Aside from Wallace and Gromit we get Lord Victor Quartermaine (voiced by Ralph Fiennes) who is courting Lady Campanula Tottington (voiced by Helena Bonham Carter) and sees Wallace as a romantic rival-which he is. Her nickname is Totty which is supposedly a British term for an attractive woman. One of many of the silly jokes throughout this film.
The film is filled with quirky top small-town British characters with occasionally silly names. Police Constable Albert Mackintosh or “PC” Mackintosh (voiced by Peter Kay) is the default vegetable festival judge and local policeman. Reverend Clement Hedges (voiced by Nicholas Smith) is the foolish local vicar who first sees the were-rabbit. Dicken Ashworth and Liz Smith are Mr. and Mrs. Mulch who are clients of Wallace and Gromit and contestants at the vegetable festival. Mr. Growbag (voiced by Edward Kelsey) lives in Wallace and Gromit’s neighborhood. Miss Thripp (voiced by Geraldine McEwan) is one of Wallace and Gromit’s vegetable obsessed customers.
Wallace is an inventor and the machinery he creates is very fanciful. The devices take on a Rube Goldberg quality in this movie and that includes the suction device used to catch the rabbits. And they visually reference Frankenstein with the use of Mind Manipulation-O-Matic.
There are plenty of visual puns and just generally idiotic jokes that you will laugh at. They keep the humor stupid and that makes the film fun. They parody the classic British Hammer Films and other horror movies as well as just going for the silly like using cartoon logic in the festival climax when Gromit and Victor’s dog Philip are fighting on a plane from a children’s ride. When the time is up the plane stops and they must find some spare change before continuing on with the fight. The planes themselves provide a reference to the classic King Kong and the 80s hit Top Gun.
One of the better jokes in the movie is where Gromit is sitting in the van waiting for Wallace and he briefly turns on the radio and the song “Bright Eyes” from the classic Watership Down is playing. It is a dark movie about rabbits. I just thought the bit was a quite funny nod to a classic British animated feature.
This is probably one of the funniest 100% family friendly movies that I have ever seen. And it is a Halloween movie to boot. Yet there is nothing dark or sinister about the story. It is actually very lighthearted and fun. There are no forces of darkness afoot. The closest we get is a bit of “harmless brain alteration” that goes comically haywire. In that sense it fits in with horror films where there are unintended consequences of the (dubious) science.
This film, along with the preceding Aardman release Chicken Run, are two highest stop motion animated films of all time. Not that there are many, but it demonstrates that there is a market for quality animated films of this type. It is unlikely Disney will touch anything like this regularly so it is up to Aardman and Laika to fill the void.
Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit will please the entire family. Adults and children will have plenty to enjoy here. This is a must-see Halloween feature.