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He's only happy because no one's
told him that as soon as he's exposed
to sunlight, he turns into pottery.
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
(Hollywood remake or sequel, or film based on a comic book, book, play or video game # 54, since January 1st, 2005. Click for full list of Hollywood's lack of original ideas.)
Review written by: Alex Sandell
In 1991 I attended a cartoon festival that showed two of Nick Park's 1989 stop-motion films, Creature Comforts and Wallace & Gromit: A Grand Day Out. The audience went ballistic with laughter during both shorts and I remember my sides hurting by the time it was all over and the lights came up. Since that time Nick Park released further mini-adventures with Wallace and Gromit. I loved all of them and when I heard Park had signed a deal with DreamWorks to make a series of feature films, I jumped around the room like a maniac, called ex-girlfriends and old enemies and asked if they wanted to kiss and makeup. My enthusiasm was put on ice when I found out that Park's first film wouldn't be a Wallace & Gromit feature. But The Great Escape via chickens sounded fun enough, and I started to get excited about Chicken Run.
In 2000 the film was released and I gave it a glowing review. "The claymation genius behind short-films such as Wallace & Gromit and Creature Comforts is off to a great start with his first full-length animated movie," I wrote. I concluded the review by saying, "Now let's just hope he doesn't keep us waiting too long for a full-length Wallace & Gromit movie." He kept us waiting. Five years, to be exact. And now that the movie's here, I wish he would have taken a few more years to actually make it worth the wait. As it stands, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is just another nicely animated mediocre movie.
The imagination found in the Wallace & Gromit shorts is nowhere to be seen in our claymated heroes' feature-film debut. For the first time ever, it feels like Nick Park was going through the motions for a paycheck. This isn't the Wallace & Gromit so many have grown to know and love over the years. Instead, it's a weak-plotted family flick with juvenile gags that may as well have been throwaways from 2005's animated travesty, Valiant. What is the deal with the "moon" gag (a man's exposed buttocks)? The "may contain nuts" gag (a box is covering a nude man with the "may contain nuts" warning label attached)? The "rabbit dropping" gag? The big melons where a lady's chest is gag? This is the best Nick Park and his team of screenwriters could come up with in 5 years? It felt like a bunch of filler, to me.
The movie is a 10 minute short dragged out to feature length. Only the most diehard Wallace & Gromit fans will enjoy it, and even they will have to do a little self-deluding to convince themselves that it's a great film. When your favorite band takes 5 years to release a CD you don't like, you do everything to make yourself believe that it was a worthwhile effort. I'm sure a lot of this will be going on with the diehards determined to look on the bright side of Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
For this critic, there wasn't a bright side to the picture. Sure, I laughed one or two times, but only one line in the movie was funny enough to be worth remembering (the reason why a were-rabbit needs to be shot with a gold bullet, instead of silver). And I don't think the mainstream audience is going to like the movie much better. I watched this in the same theater where I saw Chicken Run. In Chicken Run the laughter coming from the audience -- kids and adults alike -- was uproarious. 5 years later in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, you could have heard a pin drop.
If you're a big fan of animation, it's worth seeing just to marvel over the images. Otherwise, you'd be better off staying home, buying and watching the far superior (and funnier) Wallace & Gromit shorts on DVD. Maybe that's the problem with this film. Maybe the characters were never meant to be in a padded full-length feature. Like Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes gang before them, the loyal dog (Gromit) and his befuddled owner (Wallace) are more effective in small doses.
Agree, disagree, do you wish you had a better education? Email Alex!
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