Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Cheese-lover Wallace, inventor of wacky contraptions, has set up the Anti-Pesto pest-control business with his loyal sidekick, Gromit the dog. His specialty is capturing rabbits, an important job in his village, home of the annual Giant Vegetable Competition. (You can’t grow oversized zucchini and pumpkins if you have rabbits constantly raiding your vegetable patch.) Things start looking up for Anti-Pesto when Wallace is contacted by the slightly batty Lady Campanula Tottington, sponsor of the vegetable competition. It seems her estate is being overrun by marauding bunnies.
Another suitor for Lady Tottington’s attention is the self-important Victor Quartermaine, whose idea of pest control is a good blast from a shotgun. But Wallace’s is a humane pest-control biz. He doesn’t kill the rabbits; he vacuums them from their holes (of course using one of his over-complicated inventions, the Bun-Vac 6000) and keeps them in the basement of his house. But you should see his carrot bill! He finds that he cannot keep this up forever, so he must find a way to get rabbits to dislike vegetables. Enter another Wallace contrivance: the Mind-O-Matic, a machine that will allow him to transfer his thoughts (“I hate veggies!”) to the bunnies.
But the villagers soon find they have bigger things to worry about—literally. A giant beast of unknown provenance is raiding vegetable patches throughout the countryside, leaving them looking as if they’ve been hit by a bomb. With a bit of investigation, Wallace and Gromit learn that they’re dealing with—cue dramatic monster-movie music—a were-rabbit! Is there some connection to Anti-Pesto���s pest-catching policy? And will Victor Quartermaine get the were-rabbit first, thus winning Lady Tottington’s heart? Not if the intrepid Wallace and Gromit have anything to say about it.
Sure, Wallace is a brilliant inventor, but when it comes to daily life, he’s as thick as two short planks. Enter the ever-loyal Gromit, who is, arguably, smarter than he. Gromit willingly overlooks Wallace’s many, um, eccentricities and keeps his master out of trouble. The two are to be praised, also, for their humane pest-control policies. Despite considerable goading from Victor, Wallace never gives tit-for-tat. Gromit learns a deep, dark secret about Wallace but never gives up on his master. He puts himself in danger to rescue Wallace, jumping into the line of fire when a man takes a shot at Wallace.
The movie's title doesn't denote anything darkly spiritual. Rather it's just a send-up of old monster movies. There’s also no supernatural element to the appearance of the were-rabbit. As much as it’s explained, it's more a result of a mechanical mishap than any spooky goings-on.
The village vicar, the Rev. Clement Hedges, prays over his prize vegetables. He also keeps a constant supply of veggies in the church for the poor. He is, by the way, the first to encounter the were-rabbit, uttering “Heavens above!” upon seeing the beast. He reaches behind him for a cross to fend off the monster, à la vampire movies, but accidentally knocks it over. He then improvises a cross with two cucumbers. Later, the vicar tells the villagers that their obsession with prize vegetables means “we’ve brought a terrible judgment on ourselves. We must pray for our sins.”
The door to the church has cross-shaped knockers, and a stained-glass window depicts the legend of St. George and the Dragon. The vicar keeps copies of Nun Wrestling magazine on the table in the parsonage. Lady Tottington calls the elevator in her mansion her “Jacob’s Ladder,” which “goes all the way to heaven”—her rooftop garden.
A bunny, who thinks he’s dying after being shot at by Victor, has a “near-death” experience of going through a long tunnel toward a bright light. (He’s actually being sucked out of his rabbit hole by Wallace’s machine—completely unharmed.)
Wallace, misunderstanding Lady Tottington’s intentions, puckers up for a kiss. (She’s just leaning over to open the curtains.) The Lady holds up melons in front of her breasts, saying they’ve been ravaged by an intruder. We see a brief flash of Victor’s buttocks in a sight-gag featuring the sun and moon on a rooftop weathervane. The Anti-Pesto team uses a gigantic rabbit robot doing a burlesque dance to try to attract the were-rabbit. Circumstances leave Wallace naked, so he covers his midsection with a food box that reads, “May Contain Nuts.”
All violence is cartoonish slapstick played for laughs. Wallace and Gromit pick up rabbits with a contraption that fastens around their necks but does not hurt them. Gromit holds up a knife as if to stab a rabbit—until the camera pulls back to reveal that he’s just cutting carrots. Victor shoots at some rabbits but misses. He also takes several shots at the were-rabbit and throws an axe at Wallace. A rabbit whacks Wallace with a wooden spoon. Lady Tottington whacks Victor in the head with a giant carrot. Wallace’s amazingly complex alarm clock features a giant mallet that mashes him through a hole in the floor. Gromit booby-traps Wallace’s cheese box with a mousetrap. (He’s trying to get Wallace to lose weight by eating less cheese.) We hear but don’t see the snap of the trap, and Wallace then holds up throbbing red fingers.
Gromit rescues Wallace from a haywire machine by smashing it with a large wrench. A car is dragged through hedges and a tunnel by the were-rabbit. An angry mob pursues the were-rabbit while brandishing pitchforks and a chainsaw. Victor falls from a rooftop. Gromit and Victor’s dog engage in a dogfight using carnival-ride airplanes. (Dogfight! Get it?) One crashes in flames, but its occupant safely ejects and lands on an inflatable jumping castle.
Crude or Profane Language
A few questionable double entendres and plays on words slightly mar this G-rated film. The constable says he suspects “arson” in the garden raids and then clarifies his point: “Someone’s arsin’ around.” (“Arse” is British slang for “a--.”) Similarly, a woman invites the vicar to kiss her artichoke while drawing out the “ar—“ syllable. The vicar exclaims, “Where the devil are you?” Victor refers to one of Wallace’s contraptions as “that flippin’ machine.”
Drug and Alcohol Content
After the vicar describes his encounter with the were-rabbit, a man says, “I believe the vicar’s been into the communion wine again.”
Other Negative Elements
A few rabbits cut loose with long, loud belches. When the were-rabbit teeters on the edge of a rooftop, the constable shouts, “Watch out for the large rabbit dropping!” Following an explosion of sorts, a pair of underpants lands on Victor’s face.
Nick Park presents the world another piece of inspired lunacy. The creator of Chicken Run, Creature Comforts and the Academy Award-winning Wallace & Gromit short The Wrong Trousers has given us another film chock-full of groan-inducing puns, wacky wordplay and sight-gags galore. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit riffs on Jurassic Park, King Kong, 2001: A Space Odyssey, the old Frankenstein movies and, of course, Lon Chaney Jr.’s classic 1941 flick, The Wolf Man.
Park’s particular genius is telling terrifically funny stories through stop-motion animation. When you consider that each character is moved in tiny increments to match the film’s 24-frames-per-second speed, you marvel all the more at Park’s skills. Take Gromit, for example. He’s a dog. He doesn’t speak. But he says more with his eyes and ears than many an actor can say with words and his whole body. (The storywriters actually give Gromit “dialogue” so that the sculptors know what expressions to give him.)
Coincidentally, another stop-motion movie, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, arrived in theaters shortly before this movie, and the vision of the two filmmakers could hardly be more different. Whereas Burton’s characters’ appearance and motion is smooth, Park and co-director Steve Box decided to leave things just a bit rough, and the Plasticine used to sculpt the characters still bears the maker’s fingerprints. (Boy, there’s a great theological allusion if someone wants to pick it up.) As producer David Sproxton explained, “It’s that slight imperfection that gives [the film] that handcrafted look. I think when something is handcrafted, you register that it was made by somebody with love and care.”
Fortunately for parents everywhere, there's no curse to be wary of in Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Unfortunately, the filmmakers decided to include a few elements that push the G rating. DreamWorks’ Jeffrey Katzenberg fretted over a bit of the movie’s Benny Hill-esque bawdiness, according to Entertainment Weekly, but Park insisted on leaving it in, saying that’s what always draws the biggest laughs. “We wanted to be cheeky but retain a sense of innocence,” Park is quoted as saying in the EW article.
Most of these jokes will go over the heads of the youngest children and even some older children, but they’re there all the same, occasionally leaving the wrong kind of fingerprints on what is otherwise a finely crafted bit of family entertainment that’ll have everyone laughing.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Voices of Peter Sallis as Wallace; Ralph Fiennes as Victor Quartermaine; Helena Bonham Carter as Lady Campanula Tottington; Nicholas Smith as the Rev. Clement Hedges
Nick Park ( ), Steve Box ( )