Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)

However much I’m a fan of Miyazaki Hayao, I knew Howl’s Moving Castle wouldn’t win the Academy Award for best animated film in 2006.

I liked Howl’s Moving Castle, but it was not Spirited Away. Never mind the fact Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit was the box office darling of October 2005.

I wanted to see Wallace and Gromit eventually, but I wanted to wait till it became a five-day rental at the video store. My curiosity wasn’t strong enough to view it as a new release.

Blame Chicken Run for that.

It’s not that I didn’t like Chicken Run as a film, it’s just that I don’t like chickens as animals. I like them as food. My dad kept chickens as pets back in the ’80s, and they are stupid, stupid birds.

Chicken Run captured the essence of chicken behavior so well, I ended up empathizing with Mrs. Tweedy. Aarden Animation made Chicken Run, and the studio also made Wallace and Gromit.

Thankfully, Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a story far removed from chickens. (Although, I never lived with rabbits. How do the rabbits in the film compare with the ones in real life?)

This time around, the ever-inventive Wallace runs a vegetable security firm (Anti-Pesto) in a town about to celebrate its annual vegetable festival. Lady Campanula Tottington (voiced by Helena Bonham-Carter) calls on the pair to deal with her burgeoning rabbit problem humanely. She wants to rebuff the hunting obssession of her would-be suitor Victor Quartermaine (Ralph Finnes).

Lady Tottington inspires Wallace to recondition the urges of the rabbits. By combining two of his inventions, he wants to brainwash the rabbits into disliking vegetables. Of course, something goes wrong, and a were-rabbit is unleashed on the town.

Wallace and Gromit hunt the were-rabbit down, but just when they think they’ve confined him, Gromit discovers the chase isn’t so easily resolved.

Gromit is the scene-stealer of the movie. He has no dialogue, but he has all the best expressions. His furrowed eyebrows say all that needs to be said.

Subtlety isn’t much of a virtue in most (U.S.) children’s entertainment, so the understated humor in Curse of the Were-Rabbit is welcome. When Gromit and his villanous counterpart, Phillip, engage in a climactic aerial fight, they steal their planes from a carnival ride called "Dogfight". During said dogfight, the plane prompts its riders for more coins. The battling dogs oblige before resuming their fight.

The action scenes are also rich and incredibly cinematic. Part of the wonder of Curse of the Were-Rabbit is how the filmmakers managed to make something so kinetic with stop-motion animation. The underground car chase is particularly dynamic.

Perhaps the best part of Curse of the Were-Rabbit are the twists in the story. The film’s writers don’t dumb anything down for the children in the audience. When the identity of the were-rabbit is revealed, adults (such as myself) expecting one thing are just as surprised when it turns out differently.

Wallace and Gromit racked up Academy Awards before, so it’s not surprising Curse of the Were-Rabbit grabbed the award for best animated film. It’s an entertaining, beautifully shot film, and it deserved to win.