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Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.38%
Worth A Look71.88%
Just Average: 12.5%
Pretty Crappy: 4.69%
Sucks: 1.56%

7 reviews, 22 user ratings

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Flushed Away
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by Todd LaPlace

"There is such a thing as sophisticated toilet humour!"
4 stars

I’m not going to hide my disappointment for Aardman going all CG for “Flushed Away.” Part of the company’s charm is that it was always offering something different. Pixar does CGI, Hayao Miazaki does traditional animated and Aardman always did clay, and that’s the way I like it. But while “Flushed Away” isn’t as good as any of the “Wallace and Gromit” pictures, I might be willing to bend my standards if all of Aardman’s CGI pictures are this much fun.

The heading on virtually every advertisement for “Flushed Away” may claim it’s from “the creators of ‘Shrek’ and ‘Madagascar,’ ” but let’s set the record straight. Dreamworks — the producer of all three, making the claim technically accurate — may have supplied the CGI-technology, but “Flushed Away” is one hundred percent an Aardman Features film. Most well-known as the British company behind the deservedly successful “Wallace and Gromit” series, it is most certainly Aardman that provides the film with its cheeky sensibilities. Sadly the stop-motion claymation has been discarded — water is apparently too difficult to animate that way — and the film does lose that certain unique quality in the transition, but the film remains bright enough to deliver a good swift kick in the crotch to the foreman of the forgettable animated movie assembly line.

A domesticated rat living in the über-posh London neighborhood of Kensington, Roddy (voiced by Hugh Jackman) is the (mouse)king of the castle when his owners leave on vacation, but his life is a series of sad escapades. He plays volleyball, goes golfing with a Q-tip and takes in a drive-in movie (courtesy of Barbie’s convertible), all in the company of his young owner’s dolls and action figures. His contact with other rats is severely limited until sewer biker rat Sid (Shane Richie) arrives, takes control and flushes him down the “whirlpool,” also known as the toilet, which leads Roddy to a flourishing subterranean, albeit rat-sized, version of London populated by other rats, musical slugs and an amphibian gangster Boss Toad (Ian McKellan).

Disgusted by his new surroundings, Roddy enlists the aid of the fearless captain of the Jammy Dodger, Rita (the always magnificent Kate Winslet), to get him back to the surface. Still in a tuxedo from his movie date — Barbie must have swooned — Roddy represents the polar opposite from Rita, whose clothes are held together by large pieces of thread and who turns a power cable into a belt. Having stolen a ruby and that cable from Toad, the pair are constantly on the run from his lackeys, most notably bumbling rat duo Whitey and Spike (beautifully voiced by Bill Nighy and Andy Serkis, respectively) and French martial arts expert Le Frog (Jean Reno).

The story itself provides plenty of goofy action for the kids, especially during one notable chase between the Jammy Dodger and a bunch of goons riding electric mixers like jet skis, but it’s the more adult humor that elevates “Flushed Away” above the rest of the generic pack. For anyone under 12, the colors are bright, the animals talk and the potential for toys is running high. For their older siblings and parents, and those of us still in love with cartoons, the upstairs-downstairs dichotomy is on par with all the classics (“Rules of the Game,” “Gosford Park” and, of course, British TV classic “Upstairs, Downstairs”) without all of the long-winded snobbiness. Roddy was originally supposed to be serviced by a pair of hamster butlers, but they were wisely dropped to help emphasize Roddy’s total isolation from animal contact. He may have a large flatscreen TV and a library of DVD titles (including Aardman’s “Chicken Run,” for those looking for in-jokes), but his closest friend is still a G.I. Joe figure. In Rita’s meager, working class world, even her most prized possession turns out to just be a fake, but it would have meant untold riches for her large family. In fact, they’re so distinct, that it’s almost inevitable that they fall in love.

Devoid of recognizable big screen names like Will Smith (“Shark Tale”), Bruce Willis (“Over the Hedge”) or even Ashton Kutcher (“Open Season”), “Flushed Away” has actually done itself a service by collecting an amazing cast with almost unrecognizable voices. Instead of scouring “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” for a vocal appearance by it-girl Scarlett Johansson or being distracted by someone as over-the-top as Robin Williams in “Aladdin,” it’s easier to simply enjoy the movie first and be amazed by the “that’s who that was?!?” reactions during the end credits. Winslet is magnificent as the adventurous Rita (and it’s nice to hear her old British accent again), McKellan’s voice is wonderfully menacing and Jackman’s voice is as smooth and dapper as Roddy’s appearance. (In-joke alert: Roddy almost changes into a Wolverine costume, referencing Jackman’s “X-Men” role.)

Longtime Aardman employees, but first time feature directors David Bowers and Sam Fell have managed to find a nice blend between this sophistication of Aardman and the accessibility of Dreamworks. There are certainly a few missteps in both directions — Are kids going to understand the significance of a cockroach reading Kafka? And can we please ban movies from using songs by Jet? — but there’s enough laughs and excitement that will keep everyone in the audience thoroughly entertained.

Prior to my screening of “Flushed Away,” I saw a trailer for “Ratatouille,” Pixar’s movie about French rats. I’m hoping the English channel is wide enough to keep these two films distinct, because I’d hate to see “Flushed Away” become “EdTV” to “Ratatouille’s” “Truman Show.”

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15271&reviewer=401
originally posted: 11/06/06 15:37:09
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User Comments

9/10/12 marta gilson Enjoyed it 4 stars
11/25/08 Shaun Wallner Hilarious Movie! 5 stars
11/07/08 Tiffany Losco Good, kids liked it. 4 stars
9/13/07 Tracy My kids loved this. 5 stars
8/13/07 Louise GREAT FUN! and SOOO British!!! 5 stars
7/18/07 zenbo very meh 3 stars
7/08/07 Alexis Balmaceda I think " Flushed Away " was histarical and I loved the characters. 5 stars
6/21/07 Charles Tatum Very funny and very clever 4 stars
6/13/07 ric did not like kates character. Storys avarage. 2 stars
2/25/07 amys nana thought it was good fun just long enough for our 7 year old grand daughter who enjoyed it 4 stars
2/05/07 William Goss Pretty brisk, pretty clever, and pretty fun. 4 stars
2/03/07 Mike Nothin great, kinda boring, VERY average. 2 stars
1/01/07 Sarah Loved it. Very english humour suits me fine, not everyone though. 4 stars
12/24/06 paul anka It's a piece of crap 1 stars
12/13/06 ES Meh animation and nothing there, kind of annoying to watch. Not even worth seeing for free 2 stars
12/03/06 love this eeeeeeeeeee! just love them, they made the film. 5 stars
11/25/06 MP Bartley It's no Wallace and Gromit, but it's by far and away the kids film of the year. 4 stars
11/19/06 Pokejedservo Enjoyable though a bit flawed, not as good as the W&G films but does have that charm. 4 stars
11/14/06 Debbie Very cute. The kids love it! 5 stars
11/12/06 Tiffany Losco Cute movie, funny, still wondering about the screaming little slug things. 4 stars
11/10/06 DIANA I actually liked this movie... 4 stars
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  03-Nov-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 20-Feb-2007



Directed by
  Sam Fell
  David Bowers

Written by
  Dick Clement
  Ian LaFrenais

  Hugh Jackman
  Kate Winslet
  Ian McKellen
  Andy Serkis
  Bill Nighy
  Jean Reno

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