Wallace and Gromit are back in their first full-length feature. The irrepressible cheese-loving inventor Wallace (again voiced by the talented Peter Sallis) has started a humane pest control business, Anti-Pesto, relying on his latest invention, the Bunvac 6000 - a non-violent rabbit remover that sucks the beasties up into a giant Dysonesque vacuum cleaner on his truck.
One day, Wallace gets a call from Lady Campanula Tottington (voiced by the lovely Helena Bonham Carter, fresh from her other recent character voice work in Tim Burton's stop-motion feature "Corpse Bride"), whose lavish estate, Tottington Manor has been ravaged by hoardes of furry hoppers digging more tunnels than Hogan's Heroes did in the entire series. When Wallace arrives, he is immediately smitten by the elegant damsel in distress, and sets out to rid her of the infestation. Meanwhile, Lady Tottington's upper-class suitor, the villainous Victor Quartermaine (voiced by Ralph Finnes), prefers to solve the problem the old-fashioned way - a shotgun. However, the gentle lady is impressed by Wallace's concern for the creatures, and allows him the chance to extract the critters.
The Fly in the ointment crops up when one of Wallace's experiments goes horribly wrong. He has created a machine that is supposed to change a rabbit from a carrot-chomping fanatic into a more benign creature. But in working on the machine, Wallace gets caught up in the works and is changed into - wait for it - a giant Were-Rabbit! In this monsterous form, the Were-Rabbit wreaks havoc on the vegetable gardens of all of the townspeople who are preparing for their upcoming annual Giant Vegetable Competition. Whatever will they do to stop this monster? You guessed it. The intrepid Gromit saves the day.
In the end, "Curse of the Were-Rabbit" is a ripping good yarn. The gentle humor of Nick Park carries the day. Kids and grown-ups will both find lots to love in this movie. The animation fan will certainly find his cup runneth over here as well, with the seamless blending of claymation and CGI special effects. As a fan of Wallace and Gromit going back to the first short, 1990's "A Grand Day Out", I didn't think the story held up for the full 80 minutes by comparison. I still get a kick out of the characters, especially Gromit whose eyebrows speak for him, and there are more solid laughs in the little scenery details of this film than in most recent comedies, but there were too many deja-vu moments from the shorts for my liking. Still, I say don't miss this film. And if you haven't seen the Wallace and Gromit shorts, they just issued a new DVD containing all three. You'll be happy to have them on your shelf when the TV re-run season begins.