Peter Sallis, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter
In Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, the world’s favourite Oscar-winning plasticine pals spring successfully onto the big screen. If Chicken Run was Nick Park’s movie test-flight (in more ways than one), then Were-Rabbit is the real deal. Jam-packed with British humour and voice talent, and backed up with Dreamworks’ lovely US dollars, it’s - well - cracking.
Wallace - inventor and cheese enthusiast - together with his faithful dog Gromit, keep their northern town free of pests through their thriving business – Anti-Pesto. But on the eve of Tottington’s Large Vegetable Show, the populace are suddenly terrorized by a bunny of immense proportions. Can Wallace and Gromit catch it and save the town’s carrots from disaster? Is Wallace only professionally interested in aristo client Lady Tottington (‘Totty’)? And can Gromit outwit Wallace’s dastardly rival? While waiting for answers, sit back and enjoy a flood of inventive animation, sight gags, and fast-paced action.
This is a Britain of allotments, tea, toothy vicars and Dixon of Dock-Green. And of Nick Park. So, the family-friendly antics are laid on with all the wit and intelligence we’ve come to expect from Aardman Animation. A refreshing change from the usual crop of motor-mouthed, crash-bang toons, Were-Rabbit bowls you along with a quirky story and a host of well-drawn (and well-modelled) characters. A great kid-flick, it’s also a treat for grown-ups of all ages. With knowing references to King Kong, 30s horror films, 60s Hammer movies, even to International Rescue, it’s also cheeky enough to chuck in some inoffensive seaside humour. Well, with all those marrows and cabbages, how could Park resist? And with a garden-theme, why not bring in a touch of the Archers, with Edward Kelsey lending his Joe Grundy voice as veg-lover Mr Growbag. Try spotting Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter and the north’s own Peter Kay too – not an easy task.
But if Dreamworks pretty much left Nick Park to do his thing, they have at least provided a chucklesome short film before the main feature - just like the olden days. If you saw Madagascar you’ll have met them before – if you haven’t don’t worry, because The Madagascar Penguins’ Christmas Caper requires no previous knowledge.
85 minutes in the company of Wallace & Gromit is always good fun – and Were-Rabbit doesn’t disappoint. If our plasticine friends are a national treasure - and they are - then so too is Peter Sallis, now in his 80s, who powers this movie along with an enthusiasm that belies his years. Come Oscar time, if W&G get another statue, let’s hope they put it on Sallis’ mantelpiece.