'Wallace & Gromit' is witty and edgy but cursed by the Rabbit

There's a wash of relief settling into the comfy, old-fashioned environment of Nick Park and his Aardman Animation. Computer imagery can create animated worlds of astonishing, if sterile, trompe l'oeil perfection. In contrast, Wallace and Gromit, brought to life in the antique stop-motion animation, retain all their lumpy, squeezable Plasticine tactile charm.

The feeling is like a warm homecoming.

Over the past 16 years, there have only been three Wallace & Gromit short films and a series of 2Ѕ-minute animations, but this is the pair's first feature film (though Park and his animation team created the feature Chicken Run in 2000).

For the uninitiated, Wallace (voiced by Peter Sallis), is a bald, square-toothed, cheese-loving bachelor who is simultaneously a nitwit and an ingenious inventor of elaborate labour-saving contraptions.

Gromit is his heroic and patient dog, as well as valet, technician, nutritionist and frequent rescuer. Wallace and Gromit are as English as HP Sauce, rooted in a P. G. Wodehouse-era past of hunting and gardens, aristocratic estates and autos with cranks to get them started, reports the Globe.

According to London Free Press the appeal of the movie rests in the sophisticated relationship Park develops between his leads.

Wallace (voiced by Peter Sallis) is a doofus, an eccentric British bumpkin who is forever inventing elaborate machines to absurdly perform simple daily tasks.

Gromit is his silent sidekick, an animal who is obviously much smarter than his human.

Giving away surprise, disdain and genuine affection with his expressive brows, Gromit is constantly trying to save Wallace from some fresh calamity of his own making.

In The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, the calamity is enormous. It comes in the menacing form of a giant, mutant rabbit that threatens to ravage all the prize vegetables grown by the dedicated gardeners of Walter's village.

Given that Wallace and Gromit run a pest-control business specializing in the humane capture of veggie-chomping bunnies -- the monster is their concern.

Success in this endeavour could help Wallace in his romantic liaison with Lady Tottingham (whose squashed, squinched and amusing voice is supplied Helena Bonham Carter).

His rival is a pompous, bunny-hating hunter named Victor Quartermaine (Ralph Fiennes at his silliest).

There are crazed complications in this quest, of course, and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit manages to engage us in a relentless adventure from beginning to end.


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