I read something last week which made me angry, sad and yet hopeful at the same time… This one is a bit of a long story, and I hope it won’t sound too much like a rant, but I feel I owe it to all the people who, like me, felt rather disappointed when they watched “Wallace And Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit”.
What I read was an article in which Nick Park from Aardman, was being interviewed about the apparent lack of success of Wallace and Gromit in the US. You can read the full article here, but in essence it was alluding to the fact that Wallace and Gromit hadn’t done well over there and that it was mostly due to the fact that the American public didn’t ‘get’ British humour.
First, let’s tackle the “sad” bit. I have been a fan of these affable, typically British characters since I stumbled upon “A Grand Day Out”, in the Christmas of 1990. I’d go so far as saying that I grew so attached to them over the years, that I am quite defensive about them. This explains why I felt so sad in reading the story. I like them so much that I want them to do well and be appreciated by everyone – I can’t quite bear the thought that they have been “rejected” by the American public.
As I carried on reading the article, my sadness actually turned to anger. It appears that in the process of making The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit, the team at Aardman were put under pressure to “tone down” the British humour because the American public wouldn’t get the subtleties of the jokes. That made me angry because it explained in one fell swoop why the last film hadn’t quite hit the mark for me. I had always felt like it was somehow “limp”, and lacking in the typical British magic of previous ones.
But what actually annoyed me most was the notion that the lack of success in the US was due to the Americans not quite ‘getting it’. That’s plainly wrong! The reason why it didn’t do so well was patently because they compromised what made it unique in the first place and presented us with a watered down version. I am sure that given the chance, the American public would have lapped up a non-compromised version. In fact, I was so incensed that I asked two of my closest friends (both American) to give me their opinion of Wallace and Gromit – both said they loved it – and their opinion of The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit – both agreed that it hadn’t really worked for them. They both agreed that what had initially made the franchise special was in fact the quirky British humour.
I felt also annoyed because somehow it implied that people from other countries couldn’t get that humour. I am well placed to know that’s not the case. Most of you will guess from my name that I am French, and when I first saw A Grand Day out I was still living in France and my English was maybe not quite basic, but not fluent either – yet it didn’t stop me from ‘getting it’, it just made it all the more charming.
Now, here’s for the nice ending… and the reason why I felt hopeful. I also stumbled upon a tweet from Aardman this week that promised more Wallace and Gromit action on BBC One in a couple of days' time. Not only am I thrilled at the idea of seeing them on the small screen again, but I am rather hopeful that this will not be a compromise, but instead a welcome return of their true selves.
With a bit luck, and in true Wallace and Gromit fashion, it will be a case of “All’s well that ends well”.
Thank you Aardman!
PS: There are loads of funny little trailers of what's to come with this new Wallace and Gromit adventure. I include one in this post, but you can view loads more on YouTube.