Film: Flushed Away

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Flushed Away

Director: David Bowers, Sam Fell
Distributor: Paramount Home Video

Set on and beneath the streets of London, Flushed Away is the story of Roddy, an upper-crust “society mouse,” who is rather rudely evicted from his Kensington flat when he is flushed down into Ratropolis, the bustling sewer world found under London’s streets. There, he meets Rita, an enterprising scavenger who works the sewers in her faithful boat, the Jammy Dodger. Together they must navigate their way through a busy city filled with dangers for any mouse, including terrifying rapids, treacherous whirlpools and, most of all, the villainous Toad and his hench-rats Spike and Whitey. Though completely out of his element at first, the privileged Roddy finds himself an unlikely hero when he learns that Ratropolis is in danger from the world above.


Flushed Away is a rip-roaring nautical adventure with a twist: The heroes are a pair of rodents braving the sewers underneath London. Roddy (voiced by Hugh Jackman) is an upper-crust house-mouse who finds himself flushed into the subterranean sewers. Eager to return to his posh home, he enlists the help of a boat-captain rat named Rita (Kate Winslet), who has troubles of her own; namely the kingpin of the underworld, the Toad (Ian McKellen), and his henchmen including the French mercenary Le Frog (Jean Reno).

While technically Flushed Away could be considered part of the wave of celebrity-voiced, anthropomorphic-animal movies that hit in 2005-2006 (Madagascar, Over the Hedge, The Wild, etc.), it doesn’t inspire the same sense of déjà vu. For one thing, its voice actors are less recognizable than the likes of Bruce Willis and Chris Rock. For another, its look is very distinctive. Like Nick Park’s Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, it’s a joint production of DreamWorks Animation and Aardman Features, and although Park isn’t involved, it retains his trademark blocky look of clay animation. But animating the movie by computer rather than by hand allows for some eye-popping tableaux, such as floodwaters rushing through the sewers and an entire town of little animated characters. It’s a crazy thrill ride loaded with inside jokes and enough crude humor to earn a PG rating, and the band of singing slugs is also a hoot. —David Horiuchi

Barnes and Noble

When the family’s away, the mouse will play. But pampered house pet Roddy's home-alone romp is shattered when a sewer rat settles in. Roddy (voiced by Hugh Jackman) tries to dispose of this ill-bred intruder by flushing him down the “Jacuzzi,” but the rat knows a toilet when he sees one and flushes Roddy instead. Our hero finds himself in a subterranean metropolis that cleverly replicates London, a far cry from his palatial cage; and upon splashdown he finds himself embroiled in the affairs of scavenger rat Rita (Kate Winslet), who pilots a makeshift craft called the Jammy Dodger. She is pursued by the evil Toad (Ian McKellen), who is plotting to wipe out the underground city’s rodent population. The first computer-animated feature from Britain's Aardman Animations (Wallace & Gromit) is an absolutely smashing adventure. While one misses the stop-motion plasticine delights of those films, Flushed Away more than compensates with superb voice work, including Andy “Gollum” Serkis and Bill Nighy as the Toad’s bumbling henchrats and a hilarious Jean Reno as Toad’s mercenary French cousin, Le Frog. Droll humor and whimsical characters—such as singing slugs and accordion-playing frogs—further reveal the Aardman hands behind the film. From a cockroach reading Kafka’s The Metamorphosis to two slugs re-enacting the romantic spaghetti dinner from Lady and the Tramp, there are inventive throwaway gags and clever visual bits that will reward repeat viewing. Flushed Away pretty much sums up what unaccountably happened to this movie when it played in theaters. But as with The Iron Giant, another initially neglected gem, this film should be flush with success on DVD. Donald Liebenson

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