Here comes another G-rated movie that should please parents and kids. The charming claymation pair, Wallace, the nerdy, cheese-loving English bachelor and his very trusty dog, Gromit, fill the screen for 94 minutes in this gentle-humored, warm hearted and fast, but not frantically, paced story.
Wallace and Gromit live a fun-filled life as low-profile heroes--the Anti-Pesto crew-- by protecting their community from vegetable thieving rabbits. An opportunity to move up in the world presents itself when the wealthy Lady Tottington calls on them to rid her property of the varmints.
Nobody knows that these softies only have the heart to imprison the bunnies in their gloomy cellar. This growing and hungry contingent of inmates motivates Wallace's brilliant inventiveness to create a machine to "pull the bad thoughts" out of the bunnies' minds and replace them with something more civilized, a taste for cheese, just like Wallace's. After the experiment backfires with the first su bject, strange things start to happen, and the rest of the story has hints of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Moby Dick and King Kong. The bad guy, Lady Tottington's primary suitor, resents Wallace's competition for her interest and proves to be a real threat to him as the movie proceeds. The contrast of his arrogance, vindictiveness and gun-waving cruelty against Wallace's humble yet brave compassion provides the main moral lessons of the movie.
The story is easy to follow, but not simplistic, and claymation creates an incredibly charming, and nostalgically comforting world, which even at it's most intense moments was not overly-stimulating for it's primary audience. My six year old daughter was on the edge of her seat, but never wanted me to cover her eyes in this one. My nine-year old loved the amazing contraptions that flipped Wallace out of bed, clothed him, plopped him into his kitchen chair and cooked his food. My daughter loved Gromit, and of course she's right that this wordless best friend steals the show with his knowing, but utterly uncynical expressions, faithful rescues and true doggy presence. I loved the aesthetically brilliant world that this project created, especially the little toy cars.
An interesting consideration in this movie is the presence of several "nudge-nudge, wink-wink" sexual-reference gags that slip past the kids (hopefully) to tease and entertain the grown-ups. The first one that I noticed ( that my buddy who saw the movie first hadn't told me about) is seen as Wallace's eyes pause momentarily on Lady Tottington's large bosom as he gets into his car. Near the end, the grown ups in the audience bust up when they see that the box Gromit finds to cover up Wallace, when he winds up naked, has a sticker that says 'May contain Nuts.' I would recommend leaving out this kind of thing, but won't be calling to complain.
Definitely recommended, and worth seeing on the big screen.
Review written by Norman Hale, M.D.
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