A couple of days after Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit opened, in the number one position, in the US, Aardman Animations's warehouse in Bristol, England burned to the ground, the flames destroying sets and props from films such as Chicken Run and the three previous Wallace & Gromit short films - "A Grand Day Out", "The Wrong Trousers" and "A Close Shave". A disaster and a terrible tragedy, of course. In a world where stop motion animation is becoming more and more rare for each passing day, Aardman - and front man Nick Park - demonstrates again and again that fancy CGI doesn't have to be the best technique to go with, as long as you have a passion for the arts, solid scripts and a large dose of humor. After all, Chicken Run and the three Wallace & Gromit shorts are some of the best looking, and most entertaining, animated films ever produced.
And the same goes for The Curse of the Were-Rabbit - the film is easily the best animated film to grace the silver screen in several years. And it's got a very strong and very entertaining score by British composer Julian Nott - the man responsible for the incredibly catchy and bouncy Wallace & Gromit theme. However, at one time it wasn't at all certain that Nott would be brought in to score the film at all, as Dreamworks wanted an american composer - and some american, Hollywood sounding, music - for the project. But, thankfully, Nick Park insisted and in the end, he got his way. Almost, anyway. With the score being produced by Hans Zimmer, Nott ended up co-writing the music with several Zimmer-related composers, such as Rupert Gregson-Williams and James Michael Dooley.
In several interviews, Julian Nott told a quite amusing little tale about Hans Zimmer arriving in England with an entire army of equipment, assistants, co-composers, orchestrators and whatnot, leaving Nott a little sceptical at first. But in the end, Nott was quite pleased with their collaboration and admits that Zimmer and his gang actually learned him a thing or two about the art of film scoring. Now, the result of this collaboration could have been a disaster - with two totally unrelated musical styles trying to co-exist side by side - but it's not. It's actually very, very good. Even if parts of the music have a slight Media Ventures sound, it goes really well together with Nott's more British, brass band sounding contribution.
Opening with the superb main theme in "A Grand Day Out", the upbeat music is soon interrupted by the spooky theme for the Were-Rabbit as the title of the film appears on screen, with the letters actually growing hair. Spooky, indeed! The spooky music also dominates the beginning of "Anti-Pesto to the Rescue", followed by the score's hummable and exciting adventure/Anti-Pesto theme. "Lady Tottington & Victor" features some quasi classical, British sounding, music - as does the majority of the scenes revolving around these carachters - while "Fire Up the Bun-Vac" reprises the Anti-Pesto theme, but also introduces us to a very nice, choir based theme, with a slight, tongue-in-cheek religious sound. The Were-Rabbit theme appears again in "Harvest Offering" and "Arson Around", performed by choir and full orchestra, getting a more fleshed out, action sounding treatment towards the end of former cue, with staccato brass and percussion.
Unlike the music for the three shorts, the main theme isn't just used to bookend the film, with appearances only in the main and end titles. In The Curse of the Were-Rabbit it crops up throughout the entire score, in many different guises. As a sultry big band number towards the end of "Fluffy Lover Boy", for example. Or as a hymn-like, Elgar inspired, piece in "Bless You, Anti-Pesto".
All in all, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a damn entertaining and charming score, with terrific themes, tongue-in-cheek moments, brass music and exciting adventure, suspense and action music. It successfully incorporates several different styles into one, coherent, package. Highly recommended.