Curse of the Were-Rabbit, The (2005)

Review #1,101

Director:  Nick Park & Steve Box
Cast:  Peter SallisHelena Bonham CarterRalph Fiennes
Plot:  Wallace and his loyal dog, Gromit, set out to discover the mystery behind the garden sabotage that plagues their village and threatens the annual giant vegetable growing contest.

Genre:  Animation / Comedy / Family
Awards:  Won 1 Oscar - Best Animated Feature
Runtime:  85min
Rating:  PG

“Veg bad. Veg bad. Veg bad. Say no to carrots, cabbage and cauliflower.”

The Wallace and Gromit duo stars in a feature length animation comedy that brought them (and their creators Nick Park and Steve Box) Oscar gold.  Winning Best Animated Feature in a three-way tussle with Tim Burton's Corpse Bride and Hayao Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle back in early 2006, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is deserving of the highest accolade.  It is an outstanding artistic effort, transplanting the duo onto a big screen endeavour after critical success with their short films such as The Wrong Trousers (1993) and A Close Shave (1995).

Despite being much more lengthy, the clay-mation from the famed Aardman Animations retain not just the eccentric qualities of the aloof Wallace and his smart woof-woof sidekick, but also the spirit of its dry British humour.  It's fair to say that the movie is one of the funniest in the business; I was smiling throughout, and very few films can claim to do that. 

As painstaking as the stop-motion animation technique is – its frame-by-frame sculpting and continuity may exhaust even the most seasoned of animators, it is the story that holds everything together.  It would be extremely ironic if so much labour of love was put into the animation process, but the storytelling struggled to impress.  That is not the case here, and is quite often not the case for stop-motion animation. 

While Aardman's follow-up, The Pirates: Band of Misfits (2012) did not quite excel as otherwise expected, other examples like their earlier effort Chicken Run (2000) and Wes Anderson's extraordinary Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) can lay claim to the medium's technique as guarantor of storytelling nous.  The labour of love is also one of belief – the belief that the tiny details serve the big picture, as literal as that may sound. 

Kids will love The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, but adults who can appreciate the humor will also lap up some of their double-meanings.  There is an astonishing climactic sequence involving a DOG-fight on fairground coin-operated planes that is an excellent mix of thrills and comedy.  It is a sequence that very much showcases the creators' mastery of their craft. 

Up till now I have not mentioned about the plot.  Well, the movie is about a monster creature destroying everyone's fruits and vegetables.  The entire town starts to panic because the annual giant vegetable growing competition is nearing.  So it's up to the man-and-dog team to save the day.  And then at the end of the day, you might want to teach your kid that consuming vegetables is not just for rabbits, but for humans as well.  Veg good!  Say yes to carrots, cabbage and cauliflower.

Verdict:  An outstanding and thoroughly-engaging clay-mation animated feature that is also one of the funniest in the business.

GRADE: A (9/10 or 4.5 stars)

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