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Wallace & Gromit has always been the phenomenon that eluded me. Every once in awhile I would be flipping channels and come across a short on BBC, but never took the time to actually watch one completely. When the film came out last year it seemed cute enough, however, the lauded praise and fanfare was surprising to me, as well as the oscar (granted Pixar was MIA in 2005). Finally I was able to catch up with the animated feature and upon completion I must say first impressions were correct. Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit is an enjoyable little film that doesn’t break any ground in storytelling, but is a feat of construction. Unfortunately in this case the wonderful visuals can’t overcome a lackluster plot.

Aardman definitely has inventive minds at work for them. The characters are all well fleshed out and nicely orchestrated. Each voice is original and cartoony in a good way. Almost like a vaudeville performance, the script is read articulately and showy. Even the name actors like Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter are unrecognizable in their roles. This performance style helps greatly in creating the atmosphere desired with the movie. The animation is a big factor as well with facial features becoming distorted for every emotion. Just the ability to have Gromit the dog be articulate and understandable in stop motion animation, while never uttering a sound, is amazing. Craftsmanship astounds at every turn.

Where the film falls flat is in the material being portrayed. The allusions are amusing with references to Beauty and the Beast and Frankenstein, among many others, yet the gleaning from other sources soon becomes a bit tedious to the point where you know where the story is headed. With a plot progression as telegraphed as this one, I started to feel a bit restless as the really funny parts became too staggered to keep my interest. Yes the visual puns are great most times, (the angel wings and devil horns in the meeting scene), the hidden text a delight, (the car’s window sticker, the cheese box label, the radio buttons), however, the sexual innuendoes got old and finally just elicited groans rather than chuckles. I almost feel the film would have been more successful either by going full-blown British and adult, or strictly child-driven without the crassness. Instead I feel the brilliant artistic merits are overshadowed by a mixed bag of gags and confused overall feel that never finds its way. Perhaps the switch to feature length created a need for filler in its almost 90 minute runtime, and hopefully when I get a chance to check out the shorts I will experience a tighter storyline and more enjoyable pieces of work.

Wallace & Gromit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit 6/10

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photography:
[1] Wallace (voiced by Peter Sallis) and Hutch in DreamWorks Animation’s Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

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