Hollywood’s two biggest animated features of the month both take place in England, or ‘England’ — in the case of Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, Victorian London; in Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, a bucolic northern mill town. The latter defers to the reality of contemporary Britain in certain respects (laser security alarms) but is otherwise unchanged from the Fifties. Both films confine any kind of social commentary to the subject of class and both feature the voice of Helena Bonham Carter as lead piece of posh totty — indeed, she plays a lady called Lady Tottington in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, while as the eponymous Corpse Bride she’s less frizzy-haired and more decomposed. Her Lady Tottington voice is a broad stately-home caricature; her Corpse Bride one is closer to that sad, flat quality it’s had over the years — upscale but downbeat. Around the lovely Helena swirl a myriad of other stellar Brit vowels — Ralph Fiennes as the wicked toff suitor in Were-Rabbit, Richard E. Grant as the wicked toff suitor in Corpse Bride; Nicholas Smith as the doddering vicar in Were-Rabbit, Christopher Lee as the doddering vicar in Corpse Bride.
Unlike Gromit, the dog in Corpse Bride is a skeleton, Scraps. And, despite their deployment of similar types and period landscapes, both films are utterly different in tone. In Corpse Bride, a young man on the eve of an arranged marriage to a girl he barely knows is out walking in the woods at night and somehow accidentally places the ring on a twig which turns out to be the skeletal finger of said corpse bride. Even as a Tim Burton fable, it’s a bit too fey for the grown-ups and not sufficiently animated for the children, which doesn’t leave much of an audience except for Burton groupies. In Wallace & Gromit, on the other hand, our heroes are handling pest-control security for Lady Tottington’s f