Friday, October 14, 2005

Quickie: Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit

In Schindler's List, Ben Kingsley's Itzhak Stern introduces the concept of "absolute good. "This list... is an absolute good," Stern says. "The list is life. All around its margins lies the gulf."

Now I'm not about to insult or demean Schindler's Jews by comparing their plight to an animated film about giant were-bunnies. But I do mean to suggest that Wallance & Gromit, in their inimitable plasticine ways, are an absolute good. In three short films and now their first feature, the cheese-loving inventor Wallace and his owner, the Chaplinesque mouthless dog Gromit, posit a universe in which no idea is too outlandish to be tried, vegetables and cheese are prized above gold and rubies and no problem is too great to be surmounted with a combination of ingenuity, tenacity and elbow grease. I'd like to live in Wallace & Gromit's world. It's a far gentler, nobler and loving world than this one-- that's for sure.

Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit is everything you could possibly hope for in a Wallace & Gromit adventure. What makes Nick Park's creations so enjoyable to watch on the big screen is how cinematic they are. They're lit, blocked and shot with all the care of the best live-action directors. Loving attention is paid to the characters. The plot is worked over with all the pizzaz of the best Pixar releases. I loved every ever-lovin' minute of this picture. Its theme and utter brilliance can be summed up in the closing credits sequence, in which a series of perplexed bunnies twirls, rotates and pirouettes in glorious free-fall. The charm and giddy adventurousness of this sequence, not to mention the utter delight it demonstrates in God's creation, sums up everything that Aardman Animation wants to say about life on Earth. If you don't get it, then I feel sorry for you.

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