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Retro Review: Unlike a great cheese, ‘Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit,’ hasn’t aged well

Emma Liu

This article is part of the “Retro Review” series. Each month, four films — united by a singular theme — are assessed. The theme for November 2023 is “stop-motion.”

“Wallace and Gromit” is a staple childhood franchise for so many. Cheese-crazy Wallace (Peter Sallis) and his clever, largely silent dog Gromit have captivated audiences for years, and it’s time to take a look back at the pair’s feature-length debut, “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit,” to see if it has aged well since its 2005 release.

Well, it hasn’t. 

It’s unfortunate, too, because it’s still a great children’s movie, but it just doesn’t hit as it used to in those childhood years. Sometimes kids’ movies just don’t age well, making for a monotonous rewatch in one’s adult years.

Wallace and Gromit start a pest control business called the Anti-Pesto S.W.A.T. Team (incredible name — hope they’re not against the green, Italian paste though). When a behemoth of a beast starts to ravage the crops around town, the duo and their business attempt to take him down and save the harvest, especially with the important Giant Vegetable Competition right around the corner.

The film itself, to be brief, feels empty. After the first couple of scenes, boredom sets in — it’s the type of movie that leaves viewers begging for the credits to roll. The characters are sort of fun, but they don’t entertain and amaze quite like they used to when watching as a kid. 

A lot of that has to do with the comedy. This film is meant to deliver big laughs and jokes that connect with audiences. It fails to do so.

The jokes just didn’t hit the funny bone like they used to, and the story was not engaging enough to make up for it. The comedy is pretty reliant on puns, which provided a couple of  doozies, including when Wallace tries to grab a piece of cheese (amidst the diet Gromit has had him on) but a trap snaps down on his hand. He then says to Gromit, “Caught red handed, aye lad.” Yes, these aren’t supposed to produce belly-aching laughs, but it’s just not that funny.

However, viewers can always count on Wallace for some great physical comedy. The best example of this comes when Wallace gets stuck — literally — in his morning routine, as his enlarged belly isn’t letting him squeeze through a hole in his bedroom’s floor. Gromit then presses a button and a hammer whacks Wallace over the head, sending him flying through the hole. Super fun. The overall silliness ties into this joke as well, which has a heartwarming and wholesome feel to it.

The slow pacing and stale jokes, however, hold the film back from aging into a body of work that is timeless for everyone, not just kids.

Onto the animation, which feels weirdly bland: In films like “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” the animation is mind-blowing and such a joy to watch, but in “Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit,” it doesn’t hit that mark. It doesn’t have something like the jumping Jack Skellington flying around to make its movement stick out, making its stop-motion animation simply serviceable.

However, a huge shoutout goes to the insane hairdos and weirdly shaped heads of many of these characters. For example, Victor Quartermaine (Ralph Fiennes), the main antagonist of the film, has an absolutely insane dome. It’s just so vertical — very “(Phineas and) Ferb-esque. Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter), who is as lavish and royal as her name sounds, has completely horizontal hair, rivaling her wingspan. 

A few more shoutouts go to some random scenes in the film that provided some hard-to-come-by enjoyment.

First, the opening scene is sensational. It’s got a carnival music-inspired theme song with a beat bound to make even the most tempo-averse viewers bob their heads up and down, levels of suspense-building akin to a David Fincher film and a superhero-esque wake-up sequence featuring the titular protagonists. 

A lot of global problems would be solved if everyone could just have the same morning routine as Wallace. He’s woken up by the tantalizing smell of a slice of cheese in front of his face, which then retracts into the wall, causing him to slam his head and wake up. He is dressed by a bunch of contraptions and then goes flying down a hole from the second floor into his seat at the table for breakfast that is ready for him. Need it.

One of the most mind-blowing moments in cinematic history is seeing Hans Zimmer’s name in the opening credits of this film. What? A lot of viewers probably had to pinch themselves in that moment. “Music Produced by Hans Zimmer,” it reads. Wild. The soundtrack is fun, but it would’ve been amazing if the film went from that bouncy and frivolous introduction song to an absolutely booming soundtrack from Zimmer. But alas. 

Nostalgia can easily convince someone that something from their childhood was better than it actually was. “Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” falls into this category.

There are silly and fun moments, but this film did not age like a delicious piece of cheese for Wallace to obsess over. Again, it’s a great childhood franchise, but it has not aged into something that one can continuously watch and find enjoyment in.

About the Contributor
Emma Liu
Emma Liu, Deputy Design Editor
Emma Liu is a second-year behavioral neuroscience and design major. She is currently working as the deputy design editor for The News. Originally from Philadelphia, Emma loves to collect sonny angels, volunteer at local orgs and find good food in her free time.
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