Directed by David Bowers and Sam Fell
A pampered rat gets sucked down a toilet and in order to get home must learn a whole new way of life.
There are a few in jokes such as when Roddy St. James (Hugh Jackman), the pampered rat of the story, is choosing outfits to wear for the day and choosing between an Elvis costume and a Wolverine (X-Men) costume.
Throughout this story there is the usual Aardman humor. As always, they just go for the silly and for the joke. Adults and children get a steady pacing of jokes to entertain with many appealing to all ages. They are not hit you in your face noticeable, but they make you chuckle at least. For example, in the freezer sequence in the background you can briefly see a frozen rat dressed very much like Han Solo.
I find it interesting that an animated feature aimed more at children than adults opens with “Dancing with Myself.” While the use of the song is to highlight Roddy’s solitude, this Billy Idol song is about masturbation. That is what “Dancing with Myself” is about.
This is an Aardman Animation film with a good story but unlike their other efforts it is all CGI. They try to do it in such a way that it looks like their usual stop motion style. For the most part that works but there are moments when it looks dated as all CGI animation eventually does. And maybe that is a bit of a problem. Although there are points when you convince yourself that it is stop motion but there are others such as the opening sequence when it is clearly dated CGI.
Roddy gets the cliché love interest in the form of Rita Malone (Kate Winslet). Upon meeting her and her family, Roddy realizes what he has been missing out on by living a solitary life. Some mild pride prevents him from admitting this though, but it is nothing that cannot be overcome before the end of the film. The lesson to be learned I think is stated pretty much right off the bat: It is better to have family than to live in the lap of luxury.
What starts out as Roddy getting accidentally involved in jewelry theft changes into being chased by the Toad (Ian McKellen) and his henchmen to get back an important wire that Rita is using as a belt. The end plot of the film involves Toad wishing to wash (flush) away the rat city Roddy initially finds himself in during the World Cup finals. The Toad plans on letting the floodgates that protect the city open at halftime when most of London will presumably be going to the bathroom (gross) in order to make room for hundreds of his offspring.
This change bothers me. The appearance of Sid (Shane Richie), the slovenly rat that flushes Roddy, indicates something more but they spend a quarter or so of the film afterwards focusing on the jewel only then to abruptly to switch focus to the annihilation plotline. It feels a bit like two different stories were forced into one. I think the story would have been stronger if they had either stuck entirely with the jewel or the devastation of the rat city.
This film ended Aardman’s association with DreamWorks. Flushed Away only made about $11 million more than it cost to make. I wish it had done better because I would have liked to of seen more major Aardman releases. They have a style of comedy that goes for the laugh that is all too often missing in animation in general. These are jokes that will make you laugh. Some will make you laugh harder than others. There is nothing though that will make you say “That’s nice.” That type of humor is reserved for Disney. These films are funnier than what Disney does.
And besides them and Laika, who does stop motion animation? It is not a common medium and less so with the advent of CGI like was used here. And they produce good stuff.
Flushed Away is an entertaining if a little disjointed movie. It has enough laughs to keep you watching. My biggest issue is with it being CGI but that is generally an issue I have with all CGI films. Still though you will have a good time watching this. I recommend it.