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Wallace and Gromit - The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Prepare yourself for a rare indulgence - a film that's 85 minutes of pure, adrenalin-pumping, permenently-affixed-grin FUN that doesn't kowtow to Hollywood conventions. Wallace and Gromit's first full-length feature is a cracking rush of blood to the spine that leaves you tingling with pleasure from the sheer enjoyment of it all.

For the uninitiated, Wallace and Gromit are a man and dog claymation duo who first appeared in the short film A Grand Day Out (1989). It introduced audiences to Wallace, a sweater-wearing, cheese-loving, inventor of Rube-Goldberg contraptions, and Gromit, an intelligent pooch who spends most of his time extracting Wallace from complex but hilarious situations.

More shorts followed and now, after more than two painstaking years up to their elbows in clay, the incredibly patient crew at Aardman Animation has produced Wallace and Gromit - Curse of the Were-Rabbit. The result is nothing less than a stop-motion masterpiece and if Oscar doesn't kiss the malleable licorice-like lips of W&G with a best animated feature award then it would prove to be a miscarriage of justice on par with the Forrest Gump over Pulp Fiction fiasco.

We are introduced to Wallace and Gromit in an action-packed opening sequence which sets the tone of the film: the pliable pair are alerted in the dead of night by one of many of the trademark unnecessarily complicated but entertaining contraptions and must spring into action as dynamic pest controllers. They rescue their neighbours' gardens from voracious rabbits that do their utmost to consume the village's prized vegetables. Sound mundane? Hardly.

This beginning flings the audience into the appealing realm of Wallace and Gromit films: a carnival of motion that combines gut-bursting dialogue with an endless string of slapstick and sight gags at a pace that seems impossible to maintain but, remarkably, gallops without mercy from start to finish. This is Man O' War of the animation set.

And not only is it hilarious, Curse of the Were-Rabbit could be the most unrelenting adventure film to leap out of the gate since Raiders of the Lost Ark. There is a scene in which Gromit has lassoed the titular were-rabbit to a truck (and, yes, this dog can drive) and what follows is a chase over, under, and through back yards and gardens in a sequence to rival any endured by Indiana Jones.

If you can spare a moment between your laughter and thrill-induced amazement, you may attempt to take note of the incredible detail put into every frame of this film. Look at the specks of dust on a windshield or the fine hairs of the were-rabbit and your mind will reel when you remember that everything you see onscreen was created by hand, most of it moulded out of clay. Amazing.

With the past year's crop of mediocre computer-generated offerings exposing that the animation revolution heralded by Toy Story has begun a descent into uninspiring formula - yes, I'm pointing fingers at you, Madagascar and you, Robots - it's wonderful to once again be amused, thrilled, and enthralled by an animated feature. Lacking a single bone of inflated ego in their bodies, here's to hoping that Wallace and Gromit (with the slight aid of the band at Aardman) keep providing giddy pleasures to equal Curse of the Were-Rabbit. "Smashing!"


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