Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a film from 2005 created by Aardman Studios and released by Dreamworks Pictures. Starring the eponymous duo, it tells how they are now running a pest control company while the town is on the cusp of a vegetable growing competition and is fighting a rabbit infestation.
Wallace & Gromit have an established formula, where they have a new company in each story and Wallace has a series of W. Heath Robinson-esque contraptions/inventions at his disposal. There are running jokes, such as Wallace’s love of cheese. It’s all familiar and charming but, stretched out to a full film length, feels slight and really isn’t funny enough.
The pest control company is humane, so it captures the rabbits rather than kills them. Eventually this leads to a problem as the rabbits all have to be locked away so they can’t damage any more plants. Wallace’s solution to this is to try brainwashing the rabbits not to want to cause damage to any of the local crops. He uses an untested machine to do this and not everything goes to plan.
There is a twist, of a sort, in the story. It’s not a particularly bad one, but does rely on the same cartoon logic that underpins the rest of the film. There are some mildly amusing sequences, and a few quite smart homages to classic films. But there isn’t enough really to hold your interest and most of the film feels underdeveloped.
Nearly all the characters are cyphers or don’t actually get much to do. The local vicar becoming a fire and brimstone preacher is mildly amusing, but I am unsure how much it is a sop to the format of the film and an attempt to make it more universally appealing. Wallace’s love interest is under used and seems to have virtually no personality at all. Likewise, his rival exists mostly as an (easily overcome) obstacle rather than a character in his own right and does nothing of interest or even to take the plot in a particularly unexpected direction.
The animation, however, is great. Expressive, subtle, and delicious solid. The use of stop motion means that shadows can interact realistically, and give the film a depth and texture that no other animation (even the best of Pixar) can match. It also allows real items to be inserted into scenes, particularly the multitude of vegetables called upon by the plot. I just wish there was something to the film other than a slight amount of charm and some great animation. It isn’t a strong enough proposition overall, regardless of its merits.