We all know Aardman’s animation mastery from his previous movies, Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run. Witty, smart, charming and littered with British humor “Flushed Away” maintains Aardman’s whimsical sensibility, loveable characters and deft ability to enchant viewers of all ages. If you need a couple of hours of diversion with the kids I recommend taking them to this movie.
In “Flushed Away” a high-class, well-groomed pet rat, Roddy St. James (the voice of Hugh Jackman), finds himself tricked by Syd, a belching, free-loading sewer rat. Syd was spewed up from the kitchen sink, and wants Roddy’s exquisite digs — including a designer wardrobe and red convertible that would make Barbie and Ken jealous– all for himself. So he tricks Roddy into the “jacuzzi,” and then flushes him away.
Dressed in a tuxedo with mother-of-pearl cuff links, Roddy whips through the plumbing and pops out underground in a thriving and incredibly designed sewer metropolis inhabited by zany rats and background vocalist slugs. Although amazed at the bustle of the city, constructed from castaway items such as oven doors and cereal boxes, Roddy vows to find his way home “up top”.
The rapid-fire pace never lets up. Roddy quickly meets up with some great characters including the feisty and fearless heroine “Rita” (Kate Winslet) who agrees to take him back to Kensington Gardens on her boat. Like every good action adventure film they have something that the bad guy…uhh…bad Toad (Ian McKellan) and his wacky henchmen want very badly.
There are some scary chase scenes where everyone ends up okay, and some potty jokes, that give the film a PG rating. For parents there are clever jokes and innuendo, nods to movies that we love (like Terminator 2, Lady and the Tramp, 007 and Finding Nemo), and a couple of tongue in cheek jabs at the French and Americans which are good for a laugh. A Kafka-reading cockroach and a frog mime are scene-stealing additions.
The movie may be too intense for very young children, and a little hard to follow (but harmless) for 5 and 6 year olds, but ages 7 and up will be riveted and parents will have a great time. Roddy could have a little more compassion for his owners about whom he seems to feel nothing. The scatological humor is bearable even for those of us who cringe at the mere mention. Roddy’s character has a positive transformation and Rita is a good strong female role model.
Four smiley faces for “Flushed Away”.