The most devilish rabbit since Monty Python & the Holy Grail is featured in Wallace & Gromit’s first full-length movie, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. The big, ravaging bunny terrorizes a British neighborhood by attacking their prized and oversized vegetables when night falls. Since all these locals really have to live for is an upcoming Giant Vegetable Competition, you have to wonder why a rabbit would be so cruel; or better yet, how he grew to be the size of Paul Bunyan.
The Were-Rabbit is a product of another disastrous experiment by Wallace, which will not surprise anyone familiar with the British series. For over ten years, creator Nick Park has created short films about a wacky inventor (Wallace) and his sidekick dog (Gromit). In Curse of the Were-Rabbit, they run a vegetable protection patrol called Anti-Pesto. Veggie-craving rabbits sneak into yards for buffets of produce, and the townspeople have joined together in outrage. Wallace does his best to stop the madness by safely sucking up the creatures into a bunny-vacuum machine, and safeguarding the prize veggies with glass cases and sirens. Nothing really seems to do the trick.
Wallace gets the idea to try rabbit rehabilitation, and teach the bunnies that veggies are bad. Meanwhile, he’s reeling over withdrawal from his own favorite food, cheese, after Gromit puts him on a diet. The bunnies with their huge eyes, floppy ears, and descending teeth, freak out when given the mechanical rehab session. The experiment backfires and an enormous rabbit is born, raiding the town nightly on a hunt for every veggie within chomping distance.
The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was created as the first Vegetarian horror movie. Nick Park and fellow director/screenwriter Steve Box spent several years bringing the movie to life. Since it’s clay animation filmed in stop-motion, every detail down to the raise of an eyebrow had to be perfected. Oddly enough, it has been released around the same time as Corpse Bride, which may signify a new direction for animation. We can only watch so much CGI before craving something new on the menu.
The movie is full of unique animation, silly-but-cheesy British humor, and further adventures of the oddball duo. Since watching these two floss their teeth or file their nails would be more entertaining than most kid’s movies, it’s a film that parents should be happy to bring the family to see. It’s riddled with inside jokes and funny skits always occurring behind the central focus of the scene. There are many spoofs of the horror genre done for the vegetarian friendly, like the use of two cucumbers as a crucifix to steer off bad folks.
My favorite character is Gromit, who is always the brains behind the operation even though he doesn’t speak. That seems fitting since he doesn’t have a mouth. He speaks volumes with judgmental slaps of the forehead and sarcastic rolls of the eyes. Peter Sallis has been the voice of Wallace since their first short film “A Grand Day Out” and he brings the same level of hyperactivity and cheeseball wit. Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes play side characters Lady Tottington and Victor, and they are perfect additions to the cast.
The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a very solid feature debut, but it sometimes struggles to fill up the hour and a half of running time allotted for it. It cannot live up to the consistent brilliance of Wallace & Gromit’s “The Wrong Trousers” because these movies seem to work a bit better in shorter lengths. But the flaws are more than compensated for with the cutest rabbits ever to grace the big screen. For people who enjoy British humor and light, quirky movies, Were-Rabbit is a clay ball of bliss. Just remember to lay off the gorgonzola.