Feats of clay

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

“The killing of fluffy creatures is never justified,” asserts Lady Tottington, the humane heiress in Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Directors Nick Park and Steve Box must agree, because the only things that meet a savage demise in “the world’s first vegetarian horror movie” are vegetables. Sorry for the spoiler, but this movie has more veg carnage than the buffet line at Fresh Choice. No zucchini, tomato or carrot is safe from the film’s legions of smiling, bouncy, hungry bunnies—literally a cast of thousands. Bumbling British inventor Wallace and his whip-smart canine, Gromit, make their feature-film debut as cruelty-free pest-control specialists determined to save their town’s gardens from the rabbit hordes, as well as the mysterious were-rabbit.

After a decade of creating Academy Award-winning clay-mation shorts, including other Wallace & Gromit adventures, Park knows how to get maximum comedy mileage out of Gromit’s furrowed brow or Wallace’s endless cravings for obscure cheeses. (In fact, as we learn from the DVD’s copious extra features, Wallace’s touting of Wensleydale inadvertently saved the dairy from financial failure.)

In addition to cheese-related trivia, the DVD includes interactive games, short films, three alternate endings, deleted scenes (painful to watch, considering that 10 seconds of film represents a week of animation work on the cutting-room floor), CD-ROM activities, a tour of Aardman Animations, a rabbit-building lesson and two documentaries tracing Park’s career from film school to his current partnership with DreamWorks. It’s a lot to absorb, and it’s impossible to watch without developing reverence for the dedication demanded by the time-consuming clay-mation process. After learning that The Curse of the Were-Rabbit took five years to produce, with 30 full-time animators finishing an average of three seconds of film per day, the movie’s fluffy creatures seem even more valuable.