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Family Valued 10.12.05

'Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit'

You know how funny movies usually aren't? Too much gross isn't very funny, pop culture references are so 2001, and sexual innuendo was tapped out decades ago. What happened to funny?

Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park has it locked up in a hutch with a bunch of rabbits. From the stinky to the surreal, Park's comic genius is a shining beacon of hilarity in a decidedly unfunny cinematic landscape. During Curse I laughed, literally, until I cried.

For the uninitiated, we're talking about claymation characters: English inventor Wallace and his dog, Gromit. They amble innocently into situations, and hijinks ensue.

"For a while, we had just the short films," Lila (age 9) says. "So I'm really glad to have a full-length feature." Yea and verily.

In this episode, there's lots of cheese (including one called "Stinking Pope"), rollicking chase scenes (one underground), a bit of belching, a rabbit that parodies Wallace, the bowtied titular monster, a sneering baddy (Ralph Fiennes), and a whole lot of sight gags.

Plot? Sure, but who cares? It's a mock horror movie. Deeper themes? Something on playing God, a la Frankenstein, but Park never dwells there long enough to be dull.

Lila says, "I loved the characters. The bad guy reminds of Gaston from Beauty and the Beast." Why was she excited to see it? "I knew it was going to be good because all Wallace and Gromits are good."

More than that, Nick Park has created the most loveable characters animation has seen since the Warner Brothers golden era. Bring the whole family.

--- Adam Wilcox

Sky high in Bristol

Have you or someone you love burnt out on fall outings to farm markets? The kind where you magically drop $40 on pumpkins, a hayride, and the chance to have your heart leap out of your chest when you lose your preschooler in a corn maze?

This year, try something new. Placate your kid with a nice mellow Fall Sky Ride. The Comet Express quad chairlift soars approximately one mile up 1,200 vertical feet to the top of Bristol Mountain.

Once you reach the top, instead of pounding down donuts and cider, your kid can romp around the ski trails. That's much better training for the rigors of the Halloween season.

Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the deck of the Summit Demo Center as you soak up the blaze of fall foliage across Bristol Valley. You might even see some deer or other wildlife. We're not talkin' about a faux chainsaw-wielding Jason, either.

You can ride the chairlift down, or hike it. Just make sure you leave the stilettos at home.

And try not to worry about the pumpkin thing. You're bound to score one somewhere along the scenic drive. For a couple of bucks less than at the farm markets, too.

Fall Sky Rides continue Saturdays and Sundays through October 30, 12 to 4 p.m. Tickets are $8 adults, $6 children 3-12, kids 2 and under ride free, but must ride in a car seat or papoose. Go to www.bristolmountain.com or call 374-6000.

--- Linda Kostin (www.junkstorecowgirl.com)