|Video Release:||06 Feb 2006|
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The members of my family have always had a soft spot for little furry creatures. So much so in fact that when they discovered a mouse had taken up residence in our kitchen, the only acceptable plan of action was to capture the miniature mammal and release it to the wild (i.e. a nature park a few blocks away). My children even fed and named him before they let him go.
I am sure somebody (or maybe even a few bodies) with just as much sentimental fluff between their ears is responsible for the clay animation tale of Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
You see, the village surrounding Tottington Manor is being over run with rodents. With a 500-year-long tradition of hosting The Giant Vegetable Contest to honor the neighborhood's greenest thumb, the nibbling nuisances have become a particularly bothersome blight. However, the bleeding hearts in town are reluctant to pursue harsh measures.
That's were "Anti-Pesto" comes in. Advertising as a humane approach to pest control, the company is owned and operated by Wallace (voice of Peter Sallis), a bumbling inventor with a penchant for cheese, and his faithful pup Gromit (who's a fair bit smarter and wiser than his quiet demeanor or canine pedigree implies). Featuring high-tech security systems and around-the-clock responses, the pair is determined to get all four-footed intruders in the bag. While their successes have nabbed a lot of local acclaim, the team feels like true celebrities the day they get a call from Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter). Even though she pleads for their help to protect her garden from an infestation, the aristocrat sympathetically notes the bouncing bounders "can't be blamed for following their little bunny natures."
Her kindly comment sparks an idea, which Wallace believes to be a real stroke of genius. Why not use his latest experiment, a device called "The Mind-o-Matic," to solve two growing problems? Designed with brainwashing capabilities, he could use the lunar-powered contraption to alter the appetites of the veggie consumers and at the same time free up storage space in his cellar (where he is presently humanely housing all of the adorable-faced felons he has apprehended).
Taking no heed of his silent partner's objections, Wallace begins his rabbit rehabilitation program. But when the untested mechanics malfunction, the putty-headed bachelor unwittingly generates a mammoth monster--with an equally huge hunger for the community's harvest.
Meanwhile, there is at least one person who disagrees with Anti-Pesto's velvet-gloved methods. Victor Quartermaine (Ralph Fiennes), a wannabe suitor of Lady Tottington (and more especially her money), has always favored a loaded gun and a steady aim. When he and the produce-pampering townsfolk become aware of this new and enormous threat, they toss all former compassion to the wind. Fueling the mob frieze, the egocentric big-game hunter sets his sights on shooting the moonlight marauder... and winning the manor maiden.
Anyone familiar with the previous Incredible Adventures of Wallace and Gromit will be delighted to see these stars of three award-winning short films hop to the big screen. The creation of Nick Park and Aardman Studios, the dynamic duo continues to push Plasticine into new frontiers. Particularly amazing are the floating rabbits sucked up by Wallace's Bun-Vac 6000. Apparently, this magic is a hybrid of traditional and computer animation techniques.
Although The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is an obvious spoof on the classic horror genre, it should not scare off potential family audiences. No real vegetables or animals are harmed during this garden romp, however puns and sight gags do sprout up as plentifully as weeds. The only real concerns include moments of peril (which may frighten young viewers), a couple of near-swears, some mild sexual innuendo and a "mooning" male posterior. I found the latter two to be a bit of a disappointment from a series that has always been clean of such content in the past.
With those slight exceptions, the master and his dog are sure to reap a bumper crop of new fans, and tickle the fancy of anyone as dotty about tiny critters as the people who live in my house.
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is rated G:
Cast: Peter Salis, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes
Studio: 2006 Dreamworks