Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit Nick Park and Steve Box

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit Nick Park and Steve Box
Pixar Studios (Finding Nemo) and British-based plasticine animators Aardman Entertainment (Chicken Run) are making the very highest standard of animated features in the world; while their approaches couldn't be more different, their commonalities demonstrate that story and character rules. Expanding on the star duo of their Oscar-winning shorts A Close Shave and The Wrong Trousers, inventor Wallace and silent canine commentator Gromit here run a cruelty-free pest control company under great pressure as their home town's annual giant vegetable competition approaches. Riffing on other high-tech, gadget-oriented films, the monstrous pumpkins and cabbages are under high security, but a monstrous were-rabbit is wreaking havoc. Curse of the Were-Rabbit riffs on buddy movies, monster flicks and thrillers all while maintaining a distinctly British sensibility: in its humour, in its social references, and even in the big-teethed, slightly horsy look of its romantic lead, Lady Campanula Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter). What's key to the Wallace & Gromit experience is that you can't animate charm, something this duo has in spades. From the fingerprints left on each figurine by the painstaking, frame-by-frame work of its animators to the richly detailed backgrounds, admiring the craft of W&G is a good chunk of the joy. That delight extends to one excellent "making of" featurette that chronicles the history of Aardman from its Creature Comforts shorts; another, a Dreamworks produced clip, is more Hollywood and less charming. To that, one can add the award-winning Stagefright short and some "cracking commentary," but marvelling at the wonderfully expressive performance by the wordless Gromit is this Curse's greatest joy. (Aardman/Dreamworks)