Flushed Away (U)



Family (2006)
85mins UK/US

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis
Director: David Bowers, Sam Fell
Writer(s): Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais, Christopher Lloyd, Joe Keenan, Will Davies
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Computer-animated comedy penned by Dick Clement and Ian LeFrenais. A pampered penthouse mouse called Roddy St James from the swankier side of London gets a lesson in survival skills when he is washed down a sewer into the city's festering underbelly. There, poor Roddy meets a dastardly amphibian kingpin and his hench-rat Spike, who control all underworld crime.

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LondonNet Film Review

Flushed Away

The enchanting new feature from Aardman Animations (Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run) marks a significant departure for the Bristol-based company...

Flushed Away. Dreamworks AnimationForgoing the trademark claymation process (complete with visible fingerprints in the special blend Plasticine), directors David Bowers and Sam Fell turn instead to the state-of-the-art computer wizardry of DreamWorks Animation SKG (Shrek, Madagascar) to bring to life this hugely entertaining comedy penned by Dick Clement and Ian LeFrenais.

Thankfully, Flushed Away retains all of the visual charm and distinctive characterisation of the earlier films, and allows the filmmakers to create spectacular water effects sequences that would have been virtually impossible in stop-motion.

Despite the significant American involvement, the film remains quintessentially British in tone, from the picturesque London setting and impressive voice cast, to jokes about the England football team and the chief villain's camp quip: "Shut that door!"

The unlikely hero of the yarn is a pampered pet mouse called Roddy St James (voiced by Hugh Jackman), who lives in caged splendour in leafy Kensington with his human owners. Roddy receives an unexpected lesson in survival skills when greedy sewer rat Sid (Shane Richie) cruelly flushes him down the u-bend into the city's festering underbelly.

There, in the rodent metropolis hidden from prying eyes, poor Roddy meets a dastardly amphibian kingpin called The Toad (Ian McKellen), who controls all underworld crime and is plotting to kill the entire resident rat population, including his snivelling associate Spike (Andy Serkis).

Roddy joins forces with plucky boat captain Rita (Kate Winslet) aboard her vessel, The Jammie Dodger, to outwit The Toad. The unlikely double-act comes up against many of The Toad's goons including Le Frog (Jean Reno) and his band of somersaulting henchfrogs, and rat Whitey (Bill Nighy), whose impressive physical stature compensates for intellectual deficiencies.

Flushed Away is an absolute joy, cleverly operating on two levels: for the youngsters there's lots of slapstick and legions of singing slugs; for parents and older viewers, some ribald humour such as Whitey's sad history as a lab rat or the customs of Le Frog and his chums.

Neat visual gags abound, from the billboard advertisement for rap-star 40 Pence and his new album "Fur-dent Ro-dent" to a shocking newspaper headline that declares "Pied Piper Lures Thousands To Death".

The animators cram so much detail into each scene, you may need two or three viewings to catch everything, like the old woman who shrieks "Feed the flies - tuppence a bag!" or the frequent appearances of other Aardman characters in the background (look, for example, next to Roddy's cage and at the magnets on Toad's fridge).

Movie pastiches include Titanic and The Lady And The Tramp. Vocal performances are suitably lively, including some outrageous vowel-rolling by McKellen, whose fervently monarchist baddie despairs at the ineptitude of his rat sidekicks: "You incompetent cheese-eaters!" The colourful end credits, complete with more dancing critters, assuage any fears about animal cruelty: "No slugs were a-salted during the making of this film."

- Heather Von Bourne

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