Nick Park, Steve Box
Helena Bonham Carter
Of course the immediate draw of WALLACE AND GROMIT is to behold the fruits of Aardman’s painstaking claymation process, which is nothing short of phenomenal. You can see in every frame why it takes years to make one of these movies, and that meticulous level of detail adds a whole new layer to the film. There’s something different to stop-motion then CG or traditional 2D animated films; the fact that there’s something tangible, something physically there just makes the characters feel more alive. And thanks to that medium, THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT has more personality and soul than most films that feature living, breathing actors. The best example of this is Gromit, who doesn’t have a single line of dialogue but comes off as one of the most well-articulated characters, thanks solely to his facial expressions. (They seriously get more emotion out of his furrowed brow than Paul Walker does with his entire body.)
However, as great as the animation is, it wouldn’t mean Jack F. Squat without the film’s fantastic story behind it. From the opening montage, the fun and unique relationship between the title characters is contagious (even if you haven’t seen the previous short films), and the movie retains that small, personal feel of the shorts without seeming stretched over two hours. THE CURSE OF THE WERE RABBIT is also filled to the brim with clever tongue-in-cheek humor, visual slapstick and even a few subtle innuendoes for the ad-ults. (This movie may have my favorite puns since the “Farewell to Arms” gag in EVIL DEAD 2.) Add to that a groovy titular creature and the most adorable bunnies since DONNIE DARKO, and you’ve got yourself a fine flick for the whole family. Thanks Nick Park for a cracking good time!
Cracking Commentary by writers/directors Nick Park and Steve Box: The two genius filmmakers are soft spoken, but not quiet by any means. They fill up the entire track with insight behind the animation process, trivia on some of the better gags, and constant talk about deleted and alternate scenes that had to be tossed or compromised. It’s a shame as it sounds like they had enough stuff for a whole different, equally funny movie, but they also stress the importance of editing and taking time in getting the story right.
Deleted Scenes (13:12): Nine sequences that were understandably cut from the film, including a different opening, two alternate endings and a great Anti-Pesto theme song. About half are fully animated, while the other half are storyboards, but they’re all worth a look. Each scene comes with commentary by the directors, who apologize profusely to the crew for the cuts. (One 20-second shot took eight days to animate!)
How Wallace and Gromit Went to Hollywood (20:22): This documentary gives a detailed and fascinating history of the titular duo, from being rough sketches in Nick Park’s college notebook to their Oscar-winning shorts and global impact. (The Chinese-dubbed Wallace cracked me up!) With plenty of trivia for the fans (Wallace is loosely based on Nick Park’s own inventive father) and a look inside Aardman Animation, definitely check out this feature.
Behind the Scenes of THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT (13:01): Your standard EPK behind-the-scenes featurette, with a general introduction to the characters for the uninitiated and plenty of interviews with cast and crew. Some stuff is repeated from the other documentary, but there’s enough new info to warrant a viewing from W&G fans.
Studio Tour (8:24): Awesome! You get a comprehensive walkthrough tour of Aardman Studios, with explanations of each department and their roles in bringing the characters to detailed life. (Some people spent two years doing nothing but make little plasticine vegetables. Now that’s dedication to your art!)
How to Build a Bunny (3:31): One of the film’s model-makers shows you step by step how to make one of the cute little bunnies. They make it look so easy, but if I tried it the poor thing would end up looking like a retarded platypus or something.
Stage Fright (11:08): Co-director Steve Box’s award-winning short film about a vaudeville-era dog juggler. Interesting, if not slightly bizarre…probably not one for the kids.
The Family Album: Various galleries including storyboards, behind-the-scenes photos and Wallace and Gromit’s personal pictures.
Dreamworks Kids: Some fun activities for the little cheese fans, including three new W&G short films and a handful of remote control-operated “games.”
There are also some Previews for other Dreamworks animated films, including a sneak peek at Aardman’s new flick FLUSHED AWAY (which is shockingly all CGI!), as well as some DVD-ROM Features (web links and printable activities for the kids).