Rated G. Running time: Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes.
Our content ratings: Violence 4 ; Language 3; Sex/Nudity 1.
Our star rating (1-5): 4.5
For thou art not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not sojourn with thee.
The boastful may not stand before thy eyes;
thou hatest all evildoers.
Those who love the silliness of the old silent comedies and the foibles of eccentrics will have a ball with this new DreamWorks claymation film. Directors Nick Park and Steve Box, working with writers Bob Baker and Mark Burton, have come up with a farce that can even serve as a cautionary parable about being careful about trying to fool with Mother Nature. All of the characters, save the villain, have their hearts in the right place in that although they love their gardens, they want to remove the vegetable loving rabbits in a humane way. That is why virtually everyone has signed up for the services of Wallace & Gromit, proprietors of Anti-Pesto.
Wallace (Peter Sallis) is a nutty inventor whose house is filled with Rube Goldberg contraptions that wake him up and dress him every day and serve the breakfast that his faithful dog, no read “partner,” Gromit prepares each day. The gardens of the village are wired directly to his Anti-Pesto home base, so that whenever a rabbit tries to snatch a carrot or tomato, the alarm sounds in Wallace’s bedroom, summoning him and Gromit to the site of the intrusion. He has invented a vacuum device that sucks the rabbit in, and then the pair takes the would-be robber to kennels in the basement of their home. Wallace assures one and all that he does not kill them. Everyone is anxious that his or her prize vegetables grow to the largest possible size because the annual vegetable Fair is coming up soon.
When the estate of Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter) is over-run by bunnies, her would-be suitor Victor Quatermaine (Ralph Fiennes), trying to ingratiate himself with her so that he can marry her and take over her fortune, offers to shoot all of the little creatures. The kind-hearted Lady declines, telling him that she has already called Anti-Pesto. (We can see that the two men will soon be at each other’s throats.) The number of rabbits is so overwhelming that Wallace, much to the disapproval of his silent partner (Gromit never speaks), decides to experiment and see if he can make the rabbits give up their lust for vegetables. He does, of course, but he does not think about with what they will replace their appetite for vegetables. Nor, when he experiments on himself, in line with so many of the old horror movies, does he realize that he will become the infamous Were-Rabbit, transformed at full moon into a huge, ravenous rabbit that will become a terror to all.
This is a film that will delight young and old. There is a touch of Maxwell Smart in Wallace, with the real hero often being the little dog with the Buster Keaton-like face saving the day. There’s more than a hint of adult naughtiness at times, but do not worry about young companions watching it, as these are subtle for young children, such as when Wallace, stripped of his clothes, hops into a box to cover his nakedness, and we see the label on it, “May contain nuts.” Were-Rabbit is another of those films, like Babe and The Iron Giant, that are too good to leave just to children.
This review with a set of discussion questions is in the Winter 2005 issue of VP.