Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
2005Director: Steve Box, Nick Park
Cast: Peter Sallis, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter
here is something otherworldly about Wallace & Gromit, more than most stop-motion animation even. The universe they reside in is so cogent, with complex moving parts, inspired attention to detail – a refrigerator with ‘SMUG’ on the front, bands aids applied to pitchfork holes in a pompadour … it’s as visually imaginative as anything that’s out there, and is immediately distinctive.
Plus the way the characters carry themselves, their stiff plasticine movements; so deliberate. And how naïve they look with their googly-eyes – particularly the eyebrowless Wallace. He’d never browbeat anyone. How could he? The duffer. Which leads me to my question: is it possible to write a negative review of this movie without seeming like some kind of asshole? Can anything on God’s Good Earth be more harmless and loveable than Wallace and Gromit? Short answer: no, sir. I mean you can actually see the fingerprints all over the plasticine. These guys sculpted every frame with their bare hands – that’s why you can’t criticize. Every frame. This movie is five years of loving care. Five years of going home at night with plasticine-hands and not being able to touch your partner in bed because Ick! Your hands are gross! Wash your hands! But you can’t just wash your hands, it takes days for it to come out. But you’re doing it anyway because Wallace and Gromit are so sweet.
"Holy crap—I have thumbs!!!"
Yes. They are. It’s true the quaint duo have a sort of old-fashioned homeliness scant seen in cinema lately, and that’s why it’s such a shame to see all the good ingredients of their unique potential go into this otherwise undistinguishable cake mix. The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating. And average pudding is fine if you’re only having one slice, but it has to be pretty exceptional pudding for it to be worth eating 85 minutes of one. That's the problem with transposing Wallace & Gromit to feature-length. What was negligible in story terms for their half-hour films, isn't for something that's this big. Nick Park (and co.) are great animators, able to sustain a few visual gags with a stopgap storyline, but the formula is showing its weaknesses here.
There’s the characters, for instance. They’re direct lift-outs from the Disney 101 compendium: there are good people in the world, who always look that certain way we have come to recognize as good; not a bad bone in their good bodies. The universe can basically be split right down the middle with the good people over here (with us) – but over there are the bad people, who always look the way we’ve come to expect them to look … they wear toupees and have dark bags under their eyes and a funny-shaped nose. You would be bad too if you looked this way.
Yeah. So anyway. I’m not going to mention you-know-who in a Wallace & Gromit review. But don’t say to me it’s just a kid’s movie. That’s only more frightening. Take the kids to see Howl’s Moving Castle instead. I believe that children are our future.
By: Kris Allison
Published on: 2005-10-07