Saturday, October 08, 2005

Day 8: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

br/>Walking out of Wallace & Gromit, I had a big grin on my face that I’d been wearing for the duration of the movie. It’s a delightful movie watching experience, perfect in nearly every way. It works as a clever, original animated comedy, as a spoof of horror movies, and even, at times, as a serious werewolf movie.

If you haven’t seen any of the previous Wallace & Gromit short films, you’re doing a disservice to yourself and those who love you. It’s been scientifically proven that watching any of the Wallace & Gromit movies makes you a better person. Really. Science.

Here’s the basic setup: Wallace is an inventor who lives with Gromit, his dog. Gromit never speaks, but is animated with such care that you always know what he’s thinking. Wallace creates Rube Goldberg-like inventions that tend to go awry or have consequences different than they’re intended. Gromit is often tasked with taking care of the cheery, optimistic, and, accordingly, short-sighted Wallace. Their relationship is charming and feels as rich and wonderful as that of any Classic Comedy matchup you can think of.

This is supposed to be a “family” film, no question about it, but it is written, directed, voice acted, and animated so well that it avoids the pandering and restrictive tone that has become so commonplace in movies that children are supposed to watch. The movie is unafraid to explore fear, sorrow, and anguish in this movie and it’s refreshing to see that amidst the usual hyperkinetic imagery that one finds in Animated Films for the Whole Family™ these days. It is a spoof of many horror films, but it also takes its plot seriously and never betrays its characters to make a joke. Thus, when things get just a little serious, it’s easy to take them seriously. Even after a vast amount of zaniness, late in the film, Gromit makes a sacrifice to save Wallace and, as he does, their friendship becomes even more resonate than it was earlier. And it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the pathos of lycanthropy (I guess I should say lepusanthropy here) realized so well. But, here I’ve gone on about how serious it is when it’s mostly a very funny movie.

If anything, the movie has the feel of the great comedies made between 1940 and 1960, movies like Some Like it Hot or The Lady Eve. It’s a solid piece of work through and through with characters who make sense, a storyline that’s at once funny and engaging, and a genuine sweetness to it that’s rare to see these days. It’s a brilliant use of the medium of claymation. I wish someone could give an award to Gromit and his animators for one of the very best animated performances I’ve ever seen. I can’t think of a single person I would not recommend this movie to. So, in other words, go see it. Remember… Science.