The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is based on the Wallace and Gromit short film series, created by Park. The film follows eccentric inventor Wallace (voiced by Peter Sallis) and his silent and intelligent dog, Gromit, as they come to the rescue of the residents of a village which is being plagued by a mutant rabbit before an annual vegetable competition.
The film introduces a number of new characters, and features a voice cast including Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes. It was a critical and commercial success, and won a number of film awards including the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, making it the second film from DreamWorks Animation to win (after Shrek), as well as both the second non-American animated film and second non-computer animated to have received this achievement (after Spirited Away). It is also the only stop-motion film to win the award.
Tottington Hall's annual Giant Vegetable Competition is approaching. The winner of the competition will win the Golden Carrot Award. All are eager to protect their vegetables from damage and thievery by rabbits until the contest, and Wallace and Gromit are cashing in by running a vegetable security and humane pest control business, "Anti-Pesto".
However, they are faced with two problems: the first is Wallace's growing weight and the second is inadequate space for the captured rabbits. Wallace comes up with an idea — use his Mind Manipulation-O-Matic machine to brainwash the rabbits, allowing them to run freely without harming everyone's gardens. While performing the operation, he accidentally kicks the switch from Suck to Blow and a rabbit gets fused to wallace's head, somehow leaving them with a semi-intelligent rabbit who no longer has the appetite for vegetables, whom they name "Hutch". Soon the town is threatened by the "Were-Rabbit", a giant rabbit-like monster which eats vegetables of any size. During a chaotic yet hilarious town meeting, Anti-Pesto enters into a rivalry with Lord Victor Quartermaine to capture the Were-Rabbit and to win Lady Tottington's heart. After the first night of the Were-Rabbit, the townsfolk start to argue about what to do.
Wallace and Gromit come to the theory that Hutch is the Were-Rabbit. Wallace is overjoyed however, because this technically means he has already captured the beast, and goes to tell the good news to Lady Tottington. After a hectic night-time chase and a series of clues, Gromit discovers that the Were-Rabbit is, in fact, Wallace, suffering from the effects of the accident with the Mind Manipulation-O-Matic having caused him and Hutch to each take on aspects of the other; Hutch has gained Wallace's entire personality (right down to his liking for cheese) and even displays Wallace's knack for inventions and regularly repeats some of Wallace's old phrases (e.g. "I do love a bit of Gorgonzola!" or "I'm inventing mostly" ). Victor corners Wallace during the night, jealous of Lady Tottington's growing fondness for him because of his humane practice of pest control (whereas Victor thinks it's more effective to shoot and kill them). But then Wallace falls into the path of moonlight and transforms. Victor, having identified the Were-Rabbit, goes to Reverend Clement Hedges and gains access to "24-carrot" gold bullets - supposedly, the only things capable of killing a Were-Rabbit.
The next night, during the final showdown, Victor and his dog Philip capture Gromit, who subsequently escapes and decides to make the ultimate sacrifice by using the marrow he had been growing for the competition as bait for Wallace who, in his rabbit form, has burst in upon the vegetable contest, causing panic. Victor tries to shoot what is apparently the monster, but Gromit is one step ahead of him, using a rabbit costume he and Wallace had created prior to the discovery of the Were-Rabbit's true nature as a trap. Unfortunately, the marrow cannot keep Wallace's attention as Victor tries to take the golden carrot award from a distressed Lady Tottington (The only vaguely bullet-like object left to him after he exhausted the gold bullets provided by the vicar). Wallace ascends to the rooftops, holding a screaming Lady Tottington in his hand. Discovering his identity, she promises to protect him, only to be interrupted by Victor. Meanwhile, in a mid-air dogfight in toy aeroplanes, Philip chases after Gromit. Gromit forces his foe out of the air in a fiery crash and explosion - but Philip manages to hold on to Gromit's plane and the two grapple with each other. The fight rages on and in the end, Gromit releases Philip, ironically, through the bomb doors and into a bouncy castle.
On the roof of Tottington Hall, Gromit's toy biplane circles Wallace, who clings onto the flagpole at the top of the building for dear life. Victor, wielding the Golden Carrot trophy inside a blunderbuss he finds at an antiques table at the fair, tries one last time to shoot Wallace, but Wallace is saved by Gromit, who grabs onto a rope from a flagpole and swings his plane into the path of the improvised bullet. Unfortunately, since it is a toy plane not intended for flying, when Gromit accidentally lets go of the rope, the plane begins to descend rapidly. Wallace jumps from the flagpole and catches the plane, thereby breaking Gromit's fall into the cheese tent below. Victor gloats, but is knocked unconscious by Lady Tottington, using a giant carrot. He falls into the tent too, where Wallace lies unconscious and seemingly dying of his injuries. To protect Wallace from the angry mob outside, Gromit dresses Victor up as the monster (using the marionette he used earlier as a lure for the Were-Rabbit), and throws him out of the tent. Philip, believing Victor to be the beast, bites his master, and the angry mob chases Victor away.
Gromit and Tottington tend to Wallace who, seconds later, breathes his last and morphs back into his human form. Gromit, the rabbits, and Lady Tottington are saddened by their loss, but Gromit is able to revive Wallace with a slice of Stinking Bishop cheese. Gromit, for his bravery and his "brave and splendid marrow", was awarded the (now somewhat battered) competition trophy, and Lady Tottington turns Tottington Hall into a wildlife refuge where all the rabbits, including Hutch, can live in peace.
- Peter Sallis as Wallace
- Ralph Fiennes as Lord Victor Quartermaine
- Helena Bonham Carter as Lady Tottington
- Peter Kay as Albert Mackintosh
- Nicholas Smith as Reverend Clement Hedges
- Dicken Ashworth as Mr. Mulch
- Liz Smith as Mrs. Mulch
- Edward Kelsey as Mr. Growbag
- Peter Sallis as Hutch
- Ben Whitehead as Mr. Leaching
- John Thomson as Mr. Windfall
- Geraldine McEwan as Miss. Thripp
- Vincent Ebrahim as Mr. Caliche
- Pete Atkin as Mr. Crock
- Noni Lewis as Mrs. Girdling
The directors, Steve Box and Nick Park, have often referred to the motion picture as the world's "first vegetarian horror film". Peter Sallis (the voice of Wallace) is joined in the film by Ralph Fiennes (as Lord Victor Quartermaine), Helena Bonham Carter (as Lady Campanula Tottington), Peter Kay (as PC Mackintosh), Nicholas Smith (as Rev. Clement Hedges), and Liz Smith (as Mrs. Mulch). Keeping with the tradition of the original short films, Gromit remains silent, communicating only through body language.
Nick Park told an interviewer that after separate test screenings with British and American children, the film was altered to "tone down some of the British accents and make them speak more clearly so the American audiences could understand it all better." Park was often sent notes from DreamWorks, which irritated him. He recalled one note that Wallace's car should be trendier, which he disagreed with because he felt making things look old-fashioned made it look more ironic.
The vehicle Wallace drives in the film is an Austin A35 van. In collaboration with Aardman in the spring of 2005, a road-going replica of the model was created by brothers Mark and David Armé, founders of the International Austin A30/A35 Register, for promotional purposes. In a 500-man-hour customisation, an original 1964 van received a full body restoration before being dented and distressed to perfectly replicate the model van used in the film. The official colour of the van is Preston Green, named in honour of Nick Park's home town. The name was chosen by the Art Director and Mark Armé.
For the US edition of the film, the dialogue was changed to refer to Gromit's prize marrow as a "melon". Because the word "marrow" is not well known in the US, Jeffrey Katzenberg insisted it be changed. Nick Park explained "Because it's the only appropriate word we could find that would fit with the mouth shape for 'marrow'. Melon apparently works over there. So we have Wallace saying, 'How's your prize melon?'". The US version is also heard in the UK bootleg DVD release.
It was released in the United Kingdom, United States and Hong Kong on 14 October 2005 to critical acclaim, including "A" ratings from Roger Ebert and Ty Burr. The DVD edition of the film was released on 7 February 2006 (USA) and 20 February 2006 (UK). On the Rotten Tomatoes website, the film won 2 Golden Tomato awards for "Best Wide Overall Release" and "Best Animation" and the film also received a 95% "Certified Fresh" rating from the website. One of the film's few critics was Peter Sallis, the voice of Wallace, who said that he preferred the half-hour films to the big screen debut. Also, Richard Roeper gave a "thumbs down" to the film on At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper.