The plot concerns our heroes' latest money-making venture: a pest control service called Anti-Pesto, which seems mostly to involve installing complex, hi-tech anti-theft devices in vegetable gardens and greenhouses to stop rabbits eating prize veg destined for the village Vegetable Show. Viewers unfamiliar with the world of giant leeks and prize marrows will think this is a joke, but it's probably not too far from the truth. Wallace and Gromit, being gentle souls, can't quite bring themselves to kill the rabbits they catch, so their home is overflowing with ultra-cute but ravenous bunnies.
As usual, things start to go wrong when Wallace tries to use his latest invention (the Mind Manipulation-O-Matic) to brainwash the rabbits into disliking vegetables. The giant and terrifying were-rabbit is created as a result, and Gromit must once again save the day. Gromit, as we all know, is the brains of the operation, and manages to convey more emotion with his eyebrows and eyes alone than most actors do with their entire body and voice.
There's a fantastic scene where a slightly spooked Gromit is waiting in the Anti-Pesto Austin van for Wallace to finish sorting out a giant female rabbit lure. To calm his nerves, he turns on the radio which is playing 'Bright Eyes' by Art Garfunkel. His eye-rolling cracked me up for ages afterwards. There's also a 'dog fight' between Gromit and the baddie's dog Philip, conducted in coin-operated fairground fighter planes. The money runs out and the plane chugs to a halt, whereupon Philip (a tough bulldog or bull terrier) produces a little purse (one of those snap open, beaded affairs) and primly fishes around for some coins, prompting a very dubious look from Gromit on his choice of change receptacle.
I could go on for ages about all the puns and references, but you've got to see it yourself. Look out for the 'May Contain Nuts' gag (one for the adults in the audience) and the neat, inverted King Kong parody.
Often, DVD extras aren't up to much, but there's some great stuff on this disc. The 'Making of' feature is particularly good, but slightly let down by being narrated by American Trailer Guy: not the gravelly voiced disaster/horror movie one ("It was a time of scary things..."), but the comedy, laugh-in-the-voice one ("[Ha ha] This Holiday season, follow the zany adventures of..."). In all other respects (apart from being produced by Dreamworks), this was a thoroughly British film1. Would it have been so difficult to find a British actor to do the narration? The guided tour around the Aardman studios is also very good, particularly because your appreciation of the film is greatly enhanced by knowing that one poor guy spent four years just making vegetables out of Plasticene.
I see from the trailers on the film that their next feature-length animation is going to be a CGI affair, rather than stop-motion. I hope that it's not a trend for Aardman. Computer animation is time-consuming in a different way of course, but I think that there's just something about the literally hand-crafted nature of stop motion that makes it uniquely appealing.
1 I wonder how many non-British viewers understood the reference to 'Ay Up!' magazine? ↑