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Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Wererabbit

Saw Wallace and Gromit's new feature-length film, The Curse of the Wererabbit, last night. Seeing it was a foregone conclusion ever since I walked into the mall and saw a fullsize colour poster advertising the movie. I've been a fan of theirs since my wonderful British friends introduced me to the shorts several years ago.

I won't reiterate a plot overview since you can find that anywhere, just give a few thoughts:

Overall the movie was excellent. Just as gloriously wacky, absurd, convoluted and innocent as you'd come to expect from W&G. The characters are eccentric, the plot zany, the allusions subtle and hilarious. The ending, of course, is satisfactory and W&G, good old pals, can return home in peace, another tragedy having been averted.

The humor is brilliant. Without going into details, it is loaded with enough innuendo, visual puns, slapstick, and hilarity for six films. You will be kept laughing throughout. Some of it is subtle enough not to be caught by any but the most observant, and I think bits of it were lost on at least the audience I was watching it with (e.g. when the villain of the piece says, "The buck stops here", I don't know if anyone but myself realized it was a pun on the term for a male rabbit). However there is enough obvious humor for even children to enjoy this film.

What were the differences, if any, between the movie and the short films? Well, I think the movie is rather self-consciously "big screen", although not detrimentally so. I think the creators stepped things up to fit into feature-film mode without selling out the charm and character we have come to love in W&G. It has a different quality to the shorts, as could be expected. You needn't have seen the shorts to enjoy the film, though it does help.

The action is a lot faster and more elaborate. The shorts have a gentle, almost dream-like quality, even in action scenarios. W&G seem to inhabit their own quiet and slightly zany little world alone. In fact, I think the only other human character who appears in the shorts is the female owner of the wool shop in "A Close Shave". Dog and man act out their surrealistic adventures solo except for a few assorted other animal characters. Usually the only voice is Wallace's. Street scenes are always conspicuously empty.

By contrast this film is full of the town characters, and characters they are. It's Wallace and Gromit Go Public. It adds an interesting and indispensable dimension to the movie, although I hope W&G's private world does not get lost. It seems to me to be a much-too valuable element of the shorter films.

W&G's characters do not seem to have been altered a bit, which is a relief. Wallace is still ineffectual, naive, and cheeseloving (sort of--you'll see); and Gromit is still sharp-witted, silent and heroic. W&G fans will not be disappointed.

The only slight beef I have with it--and slight though it is I wish the creators could have seen fit to dispense with this seemingly ubiquitous feature of modern films--was the gentle but obvious bits of sexual innuendo. No, I am not a prude. Yes, I have definitely seen far worse, even in kids' movies. However, it is just such an unnecessary intrusion into the film and it could have been done without. The W&G shorts have a rare and beautiful quality of innocence nearly unseen these days, and it was a shame for the film to lose that even slightly. It seems nobody is class enough to be able to enjoy a movie without at least a touch of the sexual, and that W&G creators were banking on this. For me, it was the only disappointment that marred an otherwise brilliant movie.

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