Review - Flushed Away


Roddy the Rat holds on tight in Flushed Away

Roddy the Rat holds on tight in Flushed Away

 

 

Aardman, the animation house that gave us Wallace and Gromit, announced the ending of their collaboration with DreamWorks (Shrek) just as Flushed Away was released. And watching it, you can understand why. High on sentimentality and laden with backstory, it’s a DreamWorks movie with Aardman touches, rather than what Aardman probably hoped for – an Aardman movie with DreamWorks muscle behind it. A good movie that could have been a great one, in other words, though the good stuff makes it worthwhile. The over-complicated story tells the tale of Roddy St James, a privileged London pet rat (voiced by Hugh Jackman) who gets “flushed away” down the toilet and into the sewers, where he meets Rita (Kate Winslet), an attractive scavenger rat. And before you can say “mismatched buddies” or “unlikely lovers” the pair of them are being pursued by heavies (Andy Serkis, Bill Nighy) working for subterranean gangster The Toad (Ian McKellen). It’s around this point that Roddy calls for the help of his laidback French mercenary cousin Le Frog (Jean Reno) and his team of crack ninjas to help him. Was this before or after they returned to Roddy’s gilded cage in Kensington, for some time-wasting to-and-fro between Roddy, Rita and Sid (a low-rent sewer rat voiced by Shane Richie)? I don’t remember.

As with Aardman’s Chicken Run and all their Wallace and Gromit output, film parody and film reference provide texture and a little something for adults to enjoy. And as well as an eclectic, well chosen soundtrack taking in Billy Idol, Elgar and Tom Jones, it’s got a perky script with salty highs – “I’ve got a bum like a Japanese flag” someone says at one point – which seems to have survived the rewrites that Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais’s original draft went through, presumably to inject the sort of brassy heroism and “follow your dream” ethos that Clement and La Frenais have not built a career on.

The stop-motion claymation is out too, replaced by bright, clean CG, that does pay lip service to the quirkiness of the original, and doesn’t disgrace itself in its big set pieces, particularly the finale when the final of the World Cup between England and Germany (another plot strand) threatens to wipe out all life in the sewers.

Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman do what they can with characters that aren’t all that memorable, symptomatic of the film itself – it’s minor characters such as McKellen’s Toad and Reno’s Frog who delight, vocal asides that amuse, throwaway details that enthral. When the best of Aardman is allowed to come through, in other words.

 

Flushed Away – Buy it/watch it at Amazon

 

 

 

© Steve Morrissey 2006

 

 

 

User Rating:
Flushed Away

My Rating:

imdb poster Flushed Away
Flushed Away
Run time: 85 min
Rating: 6.7
Genres: Animation | Adventure | Comedy
Director: David Bowers, Sam Fell
Writers: Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian McKellen
Trivia: The story of an uptown rat that gets flushed down the toilet from his penthouse apartment, ending in the sewers of London, where he has to learn a whole new and different way of life.
Storyline Roddy is a decidedly upper-crust “society mouse” who lives the life of a beloved pet in a posh Kensington flat. When a sewer rat named Sid comes spewing out of the sink and decides he’s hit the jackpot, Roddy schemes to rid himself of the pest by luring him into the “whirlpool.” Sid may be an ignorant slob, but he’s no fool, so it is Roddy who winds up being flushed away into the bustling sewer world of Ratropolis. There Roddy meets Rita, an enterprising scavenger who works the sewers in her faithful boat, the Jammy Dodger. Roddy immediately wants out, or rather, up; Rita wants to be paid for her trouble; and, speaking of trouble, the villainous Toad – who royally despises all rodents equally, making no distinction between mice and rats–wants them iced… literally. The Toad dispatches his two hapless hench-rats, Spike and Whitey, to get the job done. When they fail, the Toad has no choice but to send to France for his cousin – that dreaded mercenary, Le Frog. Written by DreamWorks SKG
Plot Keywords: sewer, toad, rat, boat, frog
Box Office Budget: $149,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: £3,106,874 (UK) (1 December 2006)
Gross: $64,459,316 (USA) (23 February 2007)