We've come to expect nothing less from Nick Park and his beloved claymation heroes. The innovative animator enjoys a near-perfect Academy Award batting average - three Oscars and four nominations, though in 1991 he was nominated twice in the same category and therefore could only take home one trophy.
Park's Wallace & Gromit shorts brilliantly spoof proven film genres using the invigorating but time-consuming stop-motion animation techniques seen in Chicken Run, which he also directed. In previous adventures, oblivious inventor Wallace (coyly voiced by Peter Sallis) and his mute pooch Gromit journeyed to the moon and thwarted a sinister penguin. It's only natural that their next endeavor would be in the realm of home security.
The duo's new outfit, dubbed Anti-Pesto, is largely employed to keep pesky rabbits from sinking their teeth into the town's prized vegetables before an annual crop contest. A high-profile client, Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter), prefers Anti-Pesto's humane tactics over that of brutish hunter Victor Quartermaine (Ralph Fiennes). But when Wallace attempts to pacify the bunnies using his untested brainwave device, he unleashes a vegetarian beast with an insatiable hunger.
Smart, fast, and incredibly funny, Curse informs as it entertains. There are ample discussion-worthy lessons for young adults starting with the reality that do-gooders sometime cause harm despite noble intentions. Wallace thinks he's helping, but he creates a larger mess and must be bailed out (once again) by the ever-resourceful Gromit. My favorite, though, is the undeniable fear of becoming that which we fear the most, a trap that swallows Wallace... again, despite his noble intentions (an ongoing theme).
The Curse screenplay is blessed with sharp wit - Wallace describes himself as "just crackers about cheese" - that extends to the script's bits and animated sequences. Park and his stop-motion team have composed a rich, realized, and exquisite animated environment that would fit in any Bela Lugosi creature feature. They even beat Peter Jackson to the punch by slipping in a creative King Kong tribute.
A certified hit, Curse holds something for everyone. The premise contains suspense, the animation amazes, and the conclusion zooms by with a string of breakneck action scenarios Jerry Bruckheimer will likely steal for his next summer blockbuster. In between, we score yet another love interest for Wallace. Who knew the balding, rotund, and lovable cheesehead had such a way with the ladies?
Are you into carrots, baby?
In Theaters: Wednesday 28th September 2005
Box Office Worldwide: $192.5M
Production compaines: Aardman Animations, DreamWorks Animation
Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5
IMDB: 7.6 / 10
Starring: Peter Sallis as Wallace / Hutch, Helena Bonham Carter as Lady Campanula Tottington, Ralph Fiennes as Victor Quartermaine, Nicholas Smith as Reverend Clement Hedges, Liz Smith as Mrs. Mulch, John Thomson as Mr. Windfall, Vincent Ebrahim as Mr. Caliche, Geraldine McEwan as Miss Thripp, Edward Kelsey as Mr. Growbag, Dicken Ashworth as Mr. Mulch, Robert Horvath as Mr. Dibber, Pete Atkin as Mr. Crock, Noni Lewis as Mrs. Girdling, Ben Whitehead as Mr. Leaching, Christopher Fairbank as Additional Voice, James Mather as Additional Voice, William Vanderpuye as Additional Voice, Mark Gatiss as Miss Blight, Peter Kay as PC Mackintosh