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Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit

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Director   Nick Park

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Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a 2005 British stop-motion animated comedy mystery film produced by Aardman Animations in partnership with DreamWorks Animation. United International Pictures distributed the film in the United Kingdom, and it was the last DreamWorks animated film to be distributed by DreamWorks Pictures in the United States.1 It was directed by Nick Park and Steve Box as the second feature-length film by Aardman after Chicken Run (2000).

Contents

The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is part of the Wallace and Gromit short film series, created by Park. The film follows eccentric inventor Wallace (voiced by Peter Sallis) and his intelligent mute dog Gromit in their latest venture as pest control agents, as they come to the rescue of a village plagued by rabbits before an annual vegetable competition.

The film features an expanded cast of characters relative to the previous Wallace and Gromit shorts, with a voice cast including Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes. It was a critical and commercial success, and won a number of film awards including the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, making it the second film from DreamWorks Animation to win (after Shrek), as well as both the second non American animated film and second non computer animated film to have received this achievement (after Spirited Away). It is also the only stop motion film to win the award.

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Plot

Tottington Hall's annual Giant Vegetable Competition is approaching. The winner of the competition will win the coveted Golden Carrot Award. All are eager to protect their vegetables from damage and thievery by rabbits until the contest, and Wallace and Gromit are cashing in by running a vegetable security and humane pest control business, "Anti-Pesto".

As the event draws close, Wallace finds themselves running out of space to cage the rabbits. He is inspired to create the Mind Manipulation-O-Matic machine to brainwash the rabbits and remove their appetite for vegetables. On his first attempt, a rabbit is stuck to Wallace's head as he uses the machine's headpieces, and Gromit destroys the machine to protect Wallace. The machine appears to have worked as the rabbit shows no interest in vegetables though appears to have gained some intelligence. They name the rabbit Hutch while Wallace begins rebuilding the device.

Over the night, several townsfolk report a giant Were-rabbit tried to eat their vegetables. Wallace suspects that Hutch may be the Were-rabbit and keeps him caged up. Lady Tottington holds an emergency town meeting, in which the hunter Lord Victor Quartermaine offers to shoot the Were-rabbit. However, Lady Tottington persuades the rest of the town to continue with Anti-Pesto's services. Victor, who really seeks to woo Lady Tottington, becomes jealous of Wallace, and later corners him in the forest. But to Victor and his dog Philip's shock, Wallace transforms into the Were-rabbit under the light of the full moon and bounds away. Gromit, who also witnessed the transformation, lures Wallace back home to protect him. Victor obtains three "24 carrot" gold bullets from the town's reverend to use against Wallace the next evening.

The celebration begins the next day. Gromit convinces Wallace that he is the Were-rabbit, and Wallace hides himself away. Lady Tottington, who has come to like Wallace, comes to visit and tells him about Victor's plan. But when the moon rises, Wallace, beginning to change into a Were-rabbit, shoos Lady Tottington away to avoid seeing him. As she leaves, Victor arrives and attempts to fire on Wallace with the golden bullets. Gromit creates a distraction to allow Wallace, as the Were-rabbit, to escape; the hunter gives chase to Wallace as he heads for the competition. Gromit, with the help of Hutch, plans to sacrifice the giant marrow he had been growing as bait to lure Wallace back to safety.

Wallace, as the Were-rabbit, creates chaos at the fair, and Victor eventually runs out of bullets. Desperate, he grabs the Golden Carrot trophy to use as ammo for his blunderbuss. Wallace grabs Lady Tottington and climbs onto one of the towers of Tottington Hall, where she discovers Wallace's connection to the Were-rabbit. Victor gives chase, revealing that he only wants to impress Lady Tottington for her money. When Gromit arrives, Philip attempts to prevent him from interfering, leading to the two into a dogfight using aeroplanes taken from a fairground attraction. Gromit gets the upper hand, sending Philip's plane to the ground, then steers his plane into Victor's line of fire just as he is about to shoot the Golden Carrot at Wallace.

The plane takes the hit and starts to go down, whereupon Wallace jumps off the tower, grabs Gromit and sacrifices himself to cushion their fall into a cheese tent. Victor gloats about his victory, but Lady Tottington hits him with her giant carrot, knocking him off into the cheese tent as well, and goes to check on Wallace herself. As the townspeople begin to form a mob to learn the Were-rabbit's identity, Gromit quickly disguises Victor as the Were-rabbit, who is subsequently chased away by the mob.

Wallace transforms back to his human self and appears dead, but Gromit uses some Stinking Bishop cheese to bring Wallace back to life. Lady Tottington awards Gromit the Golden Carrot for his sacrifice of the giant marrow, and later converts the grounds of Tottington Hall into a safe habitat for Hutch and the other captured rabbits.

Cast

  • Peter Sallis as Wallace, an eccentric and absent-minded inventor with a great fondness for cheese, who runs Anti-Pesto with his dog, Gromit.
  • Sallis also provides the voice of Hutch, a captive rabbit who gradually becomes Wallace-like after an attempted mind-alteration goes awry and who serves as the initial suspected Were-Rabbit. Sallis's voice was digitally accelerated to create that of Hutch's.
  • Gromit is Wallace's silent, brave and highly intelligent dog, who saves his master whenever something goes wrong.
  • Ralph Fiennes as Lord Victor Quartermaine, a cruel upper class bounder and a prideful hunter. He wears a toupee and despises Anti-Pesto. His surname is similar to Allan Quatermain, the British novelist's H. Rider Haggard's big-game hunter character.
  • Philip is Victor's vicious but dimwitted hunting dog who resembles a Bull Terrier.
  • Helena Bonham Carter as Lady Campanula "Totty" Tottington, a wealthy aristocratic spinster with a keen interest in vegetable horticulture and 'fluffy' animals. For 517 years, the Tottington family has hosted an annual vegetable competition on their estate. Lady Tottington asks Wallace to call her "Totty" (which is a British term for attractive women) and develops a romantic interest in him. Her forename, Campanula, is the scientific name of a bellflower, and her surname is taken from the Lancashire village of Tottington.
  • Peter Kay as Police Constable Albert Mackintosh, the local village policeman who judges the Giant Vegetable Contest.
  • Nicholas Smith as Reverend Clement Hedges, the local vicar and the first resident to witness the Were-Rabbit.
  • Dicken Ashworth and Liz Smith as Mr. and Mrs. Mulch, vegetable contestants and clients of Wallace and Gromit's Anti-Pesto.
  • Edward Kelsey as Mr. Growbag, an elderly resident of Wallace and Gromit's neighbourhood and a founding member of the town's veg grower's council.
  • Geraldine McEwan as Miss Thripp, an Anti-Pesto customer. McEwan reprised her role in A Matter of Loaf and Death.
  • Production

    The directors, Nick Park and Steve Box, have often referred to the film as the world's "first vegetarian horror film". Peter Sallis (the voice of Wallace) is joined in the film by Ralph Fiennes (as Lord Victor Quartermaine), Helena Bonham Carter (as Lady Campanula Tottington), Peter Kay (as PC Mackintosh), Nicholas Smith (as Rev. Clement Hedges), and Liz Smith (as Mrs. Mulch). As established in the preceding short films, Gromit is a silent character, communicating purely via body language.

    The film was originally going to be called Wallace & Gromit: The Great Vegetable Plot, but the title was changed, as the market research didn't like it. The first reported release date for The Great Vegetable Plot was November 2004. Production officially began in September 2003, and the film was then set for release on 30 September 2005. In July 2003, Entertainment Weekly referred the film as Wallace & Gromit in The Were-Rabbit.

    Park told an interviewer that after separate test screenings with British and American children, the film was altered to "tone down some of the British accents and make them speak more clearly so the American audiences could understand it all better." Park was often sent notes from DreamWorks, which irritated him. He recalled one note that Wallace's car should be trendier, which he disagreed with because he felt making things look old-fashioned made it look more ironic.

    The vehicle Wallace drives in the film is an Austin A35 van. In collaboration with Aardman in the spring of 2005, a road going replica of the model was created by brothers Mark and David Armé, founders of the International Austin A30/A35 Register, for promotional purposes. In a 500-man hour customisation, an original 1964 van received a full body restoration, before being dented and distressed to perfectly replicate the model van used in the film. The official colour of the van is Preston Green, named in honour of Nick Park's home town. The name was chosen by the art director and Mark Armé.

    For the United States edition of the film, the dialogue was changed to refer to Gromit's prize marrow as a "melon". Because the word "marrow" is not well known in the United States, Jeffrey Katzenberg insisted it be changed. Park explained "Because it's the only appropriate word we could find that would fit with the mouth shape for 'marrow'. Melon apparently works over there. So we have Wallace saying, 'How's your prize melon?'". This version is also heard in the United Kingdom bootleg DVD release, and when viewed on Netflix in the United Kingdom. However, the original marrow line can still be heard on Cartoon Network US airings of the film.

    Release

    The film had its worldwide premiere on 4 September 2005, in Sydney, Australia. It was theatrically released in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and the United States on 14 October 2005. The DVD edition of the film was released on 7 February 2006 (United States) and 20 February 2006 (United Kingdom).

    Home media

    In Region 2, the film was released in a two disc special including Cracking Contraptions, plus a number of other extras. In Region 1, the film was released on DVD in Widescreen and Fullscreen versions and VHS on 7 February 2006. Wal-Mart stores carried a special version with an additional DVD, "Gromit's Tail-Waggin' DVD" which included the test shorts made for this production.

    A companion game, also titled Curse of the Were-Rabbit, had a coinciding release with the film. A novelisation, Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit: The Movie Novelization by Penny Worms (ISBN 0-8431-1667-6), was also produced.

    It was the last DreamWorks Animation movie to be released on VHS. It was re-released on DVD on 13 May 2014, as part of a triple film set, along with DreamWorks Animation's Chicken Run and Flushed Away.

    Box office

    Wallace & Gromit grossed US$192,610,372 at the box office, of which US$56,110,897 was from the United States, where it opened in 3,645 cinemas and had an opening weekend gross of US$16,025,987, putting it at number one for that weekend. During its second weekend it came in at number two, US$200,000 behind The Fog. It remained number one worldwide for three weeks in a row. As of September 2017, it is the second highest-grossing stop-motion animated film of all time.

    Critical response

    Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit received a 95% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 176 reviews, with an average rating of 8.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a subtly touching and wonderfully eccentric adventure featuring Wallace and Gromit." The film also received a score of 87 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 38 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim."

    Soundtrack

    All music composed by Julian Nott, except as noted.

    Legacy

    After the box office failure of Flushed Away resulted in a major write-down for DreamWorks, it was reported on 3 October 2006 and confirmed on 30 January 2007 that DreamWorks had terminated their partnership with Aardman. In revealing the losses related to Flushed Away, DreamWorks also revealed they had taken a $29 million write down over Wallace & Gromit as well, and the film under performed expectations.

    Following the split, Aardman retained complete ownership of the film, while DreamWorks Animation retained worldwide distribution rights in perpetuity, excluding some United Kingdom television rights and ancillary markets. Soon after the end of the agreement, Aardman announced they were proceeding with another Wallace & Gromit project, later revealed to be a return to their earlier short films with A Matter of Loaf and Death with the BBC.

    During production of the short, Park remarked publicly on difficulties with working with DreamWorks during the production of Wererabbit, such as the constant production notes and demands to alter the material to appeal more to American children.

    References

    Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit Wikipedia


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