Old Brew


wallace1.jpgUnless I’m mistaken, I’ve now seen every substantial theatrical animated feature of 2005 (except CHICKEN LITTLE). MADGASCAR, CORPSE BRIDE and HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE are certainly worthy films for Oscar consideration. But I think I’ve seen the hands-down winner: WALLACE & GROMIT in THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT.First off, (for the three people out there who care about such details) as I am someone chronicling animated features – not only for future updates to my THE ANIMATED MOVIE GUIDE, but for Leonard Maltin’s MOVIE GUIDE as well – I have to note the film’s several title discrepancies. On the posters and ads the title is presented as “WALLACE & GROMIT The Curse Of the Were-Rabbit” with the characters names twice as large as the subtitle. The poster’s credit block (small print) have it as “WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT” (all the same size) with a colon separating the character name from the subtitle. On the film itself, the title is presented this way: “WALLACE & GROMIT” as one card, “in” as a second card, and “THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT” as a third card. Never since ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE KILLER, BORIS KARLOFF have the film’s principals and the film’s title been so intertwined and confusing!Regardless, THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT is certainly the best animated feature of the year. Thoroughly entertaining, inventive, charming, hilarious, clever and fun. A total pleasure, produced with the highest standards of craft and creativity. I won’t go into story details – you should just go and enjoy that for yourselves – but I really admired, despite the story’s simplicity, the filmmakers ability to cram as many jokes and visual sight gags into the 85 minute running time. It never feels forced or overwhelming. The audience I saw it with laughed consistently the entire time.Dreamworks did an interesting thing: before the film begins (at least at the press screening I attended) they tagged on a three minute film explaining the film’s stop motion process – with behind the scenes footage, explaining what plasticine is, showing the set builders and animators at work. I think this was a good idea – I’m concerned that audiences are now so familiar with computer graphics, they’re unaware of the painstaking work that stop motion animation is. The animation in CORPSE BRIDE was so smooth, I’ll bet most viewers of that film probably thought it was the same technique as ROBOTS or THE INCREDIBLES. I applaud Dreamworks for informing the audience that what they are about to see was produced by hand, frame by frame, and shot on motion picture film. I predict this feature will be a box-office smash of SHREK 2 proportions. I hope AARDMAN is considering another feature length WALLACE & GROMIT adventure. I’ll be first in line.