Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

My sources on the inside tell me that Dreamworks was disappointed with their new animation ‘Flushed Away’.  Executives actually got up and walked out their screening cursing, they were so upset.  Dreamworks is already on the selling block, with such disappointing fare as the critically acclaimed but box office also-ran ‘Wallace and Gromit and the curse of the were rabbit’, the absolute failure that was ‘Sinbad’ and despite the fact ‘Over the Hedge’ grossed 150 million, Dreamworks still considers it a failure because it didn’t do ‘Nemo’ or ‘Shrek’ type bank.  Well, chances are the ‘Flushed Away’ ain’t gonna do ‘Nemo’ or ‘Shrek’ type numbers either, but that’s more of a result of an over saturated CGI market, Mr. Executives, than an indictment of this fine, funny and classy film.

Roddy the mouse (voiced by Hugh Jackman) is a sophisticated upper west end mouse living in plush gold cage with all of the accoutrements that any mouse could want, including total loneliness.  When his human family goes on vacation, the drainage system upchucks a sewer rat by the name of Sid (Shane Richie) who is rude, crude, fat and obnoxious.  Sid turns Roddy’s life completely upside down and eventually sends the erudite rodent down the crapper and into the sewer world where Roddy is painfully out of place.

Roddy’s only goal is to get back to the top, back to his plush Kensington home, get rid of Sid and resume his delicate life.  But he must befriend the crass but beautiful ferry boat captain Rita (Kate Winslet) if he is to have any hope of seeing the top side.  Rita, however, has her own problems as she is on the run from the big boss of the sewer,

Toad the toad (Ian McKellan) who wants a valuable item she’s stolen for a particularly nasty nefarious plan.  Needless to say Roddy makes numerous missteps on his road to gaining Rita’s favor before the two of them or forced to find some common ground, stop the bad guy, learn valuable lessons from each other, and eventually live happy ever after.

‘That was really cute’ was what I heard most after exiting the screening of ‘Flushed Away’ and it would be completely accurate.  A CGI film based on the stop motion style characters of the Aardman Company, best know for ‘Chicken Run’ and of course ‘Wallace and Gromit’, ‘Flushed Away’ straddles the line between being very British with it’s humor, Benny Hill style vaudevillian pratfalls and plenty of fart and burp jokes, and loads of American pop culture references and jokes that I’m pretty sure the little ones just ain’t gonna get.  There’s a cute little quip reference to the old Batman series, which was cancelled even before I was born, and I’m old as dirt, so I don’t think the eight year olds in the audience caught it, despite the fact they were laughing their heads off.

In fact, the jokes and action come at such a rapid pace that I’m betting you would have to watch this thing numerous times to catch them all.  The voice acting is outstanding, including Jackman who we wonder how he ever found the time to squeeze this in since he’s in 80% of all movies being released this year.  French actor Jean Reno drops in a hilarious voice cameo as Toad’s overly French super spy cousin Le Frog and all of the prerequisite French jokes that, well, come with the misfortune of being French.

If there’s anything wrong with ‘Flushed Away’ and I don’t there is, personally, it may move a little to quick, may be a bit too snappy, and may be a bit too clever for it’s own good.  Directors David Bowers and Sam Fell keeps tthis hing moving at such a brisk pace it hardly slows down to catch it’s breath.  It does manage to inject the time tested family themes such as family, teamwork, integrity and trust, but the thing does move at a ‘Temple of Doom’ type pace.

This is good stuff here, and its borderline brilliant.  I fear it won’t have the mass appeal that the best from Pixar delivers and will likely fall short of raking in that elusive 400 million that Dreamworks Execs desire to help boost their company to raise shares as they sell oft the studio, but if you like movies, and if you actually like your children, then you can’t go wrong with ‘Flushed Away’.

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