Wednesday, September 21, 2005


As a long-time fan of Wallace & Gromit, I was eager to go and see their new film, 'The Curse of the Were-Rabbit'. And as a miserly bastard, I was eager to see it on a half-price Tuesday, which JC and I did last night.

Of course I was absolutely charmed by it. You can't put a giant bunny, an English vicar, an Austin A30 van and a giant vegetable competition in a movie without generating enough whimsy and delight to meet the world's needs for the next twenty years. But there was a little something that nagged at me, and made me kind of wistful at seeing Wallace & Gromit up on the big screen in a large-scale adventure.

It's like my babies are growing up.

With each of the four episodes of Wallace & Gromit, Nick Park can't help but expand our view of their world. In 'A Grand Day Out', the action was confined to Wallace's house and the moon, and the only other character was the lunar robot. In 'The Wrong Trousers', the universe expanded slightly to take in a few streets, a park, the town museum and a sinister penguin. By 'A Close Shave', we had another human being (Wendolene), Shaun the sheep, a robotic dog and a flock of hungry ovines.

Unfortunately, in each installment, the world becomes less intimate. In 'The Wrong Trousers', as far as we know, the town is empty except for one man, one dog and one penguin. There are no cars cruising the streets. There are no guards in the museum. There are no builders on the building site or customers in the cafe. Other people are implied, but they are never seen, and this enriches the sense of Wallace's insular, self-contained life. He is the quintessential British eccentic, living in splendid isolation with only an affectionate pet and the strange workings of his own mind. When he and Gromit are threatened by an evil waterfowl, they can't call on the police, or their neighbours, or their friends; they have only their own resources to deal with the problem.

But by 'The Curse of the Were-Rabbit', there are associates aplenty to call upon. They are by and large useless, but they're still there, and Wallace & Gromit aren't a sole partnership any more, but the leaders of a querrelous rabble. Rather than Wallace & Gromit against the wider, dangerous world, it's an entire town against bunnies. As an audience member you can't help but feel that you've lost that wonderful sense of connection.

Still, the movie had genuine charm and a lot of laughs, even if many of those were just the result of the awful visual puns that peppered the scenery like holes in a swiss cheese. I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who listens.


Blogger Jack said...

I don't think I'll ever look at claymation the same again :-)

12:37 PM  

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