WALLACE & GROMIT IN THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT
The Wallace and Gromit shorts consist of A Grand Day Out (1992), The Wrong Trousers (1993) and A Close Shave (1995), as well as Cracking Contraptions (2002), a further series of 10 2½ minute shorts that have been variously broadcast or sold on DVD. They concern the characters of Wallace, a middle-aging British man with a West Country accent, and his dog companion Gromit, who is also an electronics genius and often more intelligent than his master. The appeal of the Wallace and Gromit shorts was the two characters who nonchalantly live in perfect British rural domesticity in tone, the Wallace and Gromit shorts come across as a peculiar mix of Coronation Street (1960 ) and a Warner Brothers cartoon. The shorts are filled with all manner of madcap Rude Goldberg inventions and have a nutty delirium, containing images that include, among other things, a pair of walking robotic trousers, an evil criminal penguin that disguises itself as a chicken with a rubber glove on its head and a robot dog running a sheep-rustling scheme. Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit marks the characters debut in a feature film.
Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit works most enjoyably. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a film that holds so much visual invention packed away in every frame that it requires multiple viewings to take everything in. Aaardmans love of nutty contraptions is still there the film opens with a marvellously deadpan sequence (a variant on the one that appeared in A Close Shave) with a contrivance of mechanical arms, chutes and levers that propel the duo into their workday costumes and provide cups of tea while placing them inside their van, with the front yard pond rotating over to become a driveway as they head off to work. The Aardmans constantly pack the film with visual puns Wallace gets his hand caught in a mousetrap while going to get some cheese and has to sheepishly admit to being literally caught red-handed; the only way to kill the were-rabbit is with a 24 carrot gold bullet; the line of books that Wallace hides his cheese behind include titles like East of Edam and Fromage to Eternity; Quatermaine throws a fork at Lady Tottington, impaling her through the hair and stops to admire her: I like you with your hair pinned back.
The visual gags are side-splittingly funny. There is a marvellously silly scene with Gromit pursuing the lassoed were-rabbit in the van through the streets and then underground where he activates various buttons to turn the windscreen wipers onto Heavy Loam mode as they burrow through the soil and afterwards to De-Mud, whereupon the vehicle shakes itself clean like a dog. The were-rabbits appearances are a wonderful spoof of the werewolf transformations in films like The Howling (1980) and An American Werewolf in London (1981) there is no more bizarrely wacky an image than the sight of Wallace suddenly sprouting a pair of rabbit teeth, followed by a big fluffy tail bursting out of his pants and then the giant transformed rabbit pounding its back paw on the ground and howling to all the other rabbits in the vicinity. The most deliriously silly sequence is the climax, which turns into a parody of King Kong (1933) with Gromit and Quartermaines dog Philip pursuing each other round the ramparts of Lady Tottingtons mansion on a dodgem biplane where the chase is suddenly brought to a halt when the fairground plane runs out of money and both combatants are forced to search in their purses for 10p. As the end credits roll, various rabbits frolic in mid-air in the background and when the usual credit about no animals being harmed in the making of this production appears, one of the bunnies promptly bangs up against it. Perhaps in the end, one feels that Wallace and Gromit work marginally better in short film form than long like Chicken Run, they do feel ever so slightly stretched at feature length. Nevertheless, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is sublimely silly fun.
Next up for Aardman was the cartoon-animated likes of Flushed Away (2006) and Arthur Christmas (2011), and The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012), which combined both Claymation and computer-drawn animation, while Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015) and Early Man (2018) saw a return to Claymation.
(Winner in this sites Top 10 Films of 2005 list).