They’re at it like Were-rabbits

first_imgWallace and Gromit: the Curse of the Were-rabbitCreator Nick Park’s lovable duo hop onto the silver screen this week in their first full-length feature, an amusing clay-clad tale of bunnies and bungling pursuits. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit opens to find our twosome’s little village fraught with anxiety over the upcoming Giant Vegetable Contest. Residents madly cultivate their precious veggies while living in constant fear of   rodent attack. A recent outbreak of greens-seeking rabbits threaten not only the prize-winning produce but the Contest itself. Even Gromit is concerned. He nurtures a big, beautiful marrow squash, each night tucking it tenderly beneath covers before setting a greenhouse intruder alarm.Wallace and Gromit’s humane pest-removal services are soon called in by the twig-framed, frizz-haired Lady Campanula Tottington (voiced with enchantingly scatter-brained, high-pitched timidity by Helena Bonham Carter). The Anti-Pesto, as they are known, go to work ridding Lady Tottington’s property of dozens of rabbits but soon encounter a pest less easily removed: Victor Quartermaine, Tottington’s swaggering suitor, voiced with perfect snootiness by Ralph Fiennes. Quartermaine, who seeks Lady Tottington’s hand in marriage, senses Wallace and Tottington’s mutual romantic interest and sets out to destroy the Anti-Pesto.He is accompanied in this task by his faithful, fanged, gun-toting pooch, Philip (one of the film’s most amusing characters, with a prissy prance to match the firearm he clenches between great white canines). Philip’s snarlingly comic dealings with Gromit provide some of the best moments in the film.  Watching our wide-eyed Gromit look on while Philip struggles daintily with a feminine change-purse aboard an unpiloted plane is quite enough to satisfy an appetite for wordless humour.In the meantime, Wallace has begun self-experimenting with a new invention: a mind-altering machine intended to erase unwanted thoughts. Using the device to link his own brain to those of captured rabbits, Wallace harnesses lunar power to transmit his brain waves to the carrot-loving bunnies, feeding them currents of anti-veg propaganda. Quel surpris, the experiment goes horribly awry, leaving Wallace and a single rabbit comically affected, their minds strangely fused.The once-bubbly village is suddenly frozen by fear.  The appearance of a monstrous Were-Rabbit has thrown the sacred Contest into true danger.  In the midst of this curfuffle, Wallace and Gromit’s Anti-Pesto are commissioned to capture the beast, but find their humane removal tactics questioned when they fail to rid the village of its vegetable-demolishing fiend. Quartermaine is called in to exterminate the creature and so begins a trigger-happy safari towards  glory and uproarious fun.The adaptation of the Wallace and Gromit stories to full-blown feature-length status remains somewhat strained, as the characters have only previously appeared in film shorts, memorable and wildly imaginative though they were.  At times the action, though playful, feels a bit like a merry-go-round: amusing but repetitive. Certain sequences are significantly tedious, in view of the ninety-four minute running time. Regardless, Wallace and Gromit’s banter is warmly consistent with their previous shorts. Wallace comfortably inhabits his fromage-adoring character, and Gromit does not disappoint those fans wishing to see the Charlie Chaplin-esque silent comic take up his knitting needles in true wifely fashion.On the whole, Park and fellow director Steve Box deliver a light and lively adventure, punctuated by several moments of absolute hilarity.  Puns and parodies bounce throughout the film, tucked away in shop windows and newspaper headings, and emerging out of toothy, smiling clay mouths. Another hidden delight is the innuendo concealed behind the pretext of the vegetable competition. “The beast!” a yokel cries at one point, “he’s ravaged my wife’s giant melons!” The chuckles of the film are to be found in these details: self-conscious, witty, and as yummy as Wallace’s trademark stinking bishop cheese. All this makes Wallace and Gromit as eccentrically English a cinematic experience as you’re likely to encounter for time to come.ARCHIVE: 1st week MT 2005last_img

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