Uptown pet mouse Roddy (voice of Hugh Jackman) lives comfortably in a large home in Kensington, London, but when the humans go away for a weekend, he is flushed down the toilet by a cheeky lowlife rat acquaintance Sid (Shane Richie) and ends up in the underground domain of the sewers. He meets sewerwise rat Rita (Kate Winslet) and her family, and comes face to face with the villainous Toad (Ian McKellen) who hates rodents and plans to rid the sewers of them all, with help from dreaded mercenary Le Frog (Jean Reno). Facing the threat of a giant flood and Toad's nasty habit of snap-freezing his enemies, it's up to feisty Rita and bumbling Roddy to save the underworld.
Review by Louise Keller:
There's a lonely pet mouse who talks to dolls, a scheming toad, a French frog in a trenchcoat and coloured slugs with headlight eyes that sing. It may not be claymation, but Aardman's first computer animated comedy, Flushed Away, retains the essence of the witty, droll, good clean fun that Wallace and Gromit-ness made into an artform. The mouths of the characters have that Aardman look with a lasso mouth surrounding teeth that resemble the white keys of a piano. And the animal characters don't look at all like the owners of the famous voices that inject them with life. Imaginative, colourful and filled with quips and funny ideas, this is a family friendly adventure that works on different levels.
Hugh Jackman's pet rat Roddy discovers a new world, when he leaves his plush but lonely Kensington cage, after being flushed down the toilet. He is thrust into a world that is very different from the pampered one in which he has lived when he is meets Kate Winslet's sassy adventurous rat Rita. There's a wonderful sense of chaos about the environment in which they find themselves. For instance, when they pop into see Rita's family, who live in a crazy and dangerous house that constantly shifts, her mother thinks 'the peeping tom' is in fact Tom Jones. This is one of several running gags that recur through the film and even Roddy's early remark that he is an innocent bystander is misheard so he is called Millicent Bystander.
Ian McKellen's bulbous green toad makes a commanding villain as he flicks his long sticky tongue in search of flies, and Jean Reno's verry frrench frog is a real scene stealer. The Marcel Marceau frog, dressed in black and white striped attire is rather special and I especially enjoyed the incongruity of the singing slugs that slink into view intermittently bursting into vocal harmonies.
Wallace and Gromit they are not, but these curious looking rats with pointed snouts do have plenty of charm in this energetic, fresh and adventure that will make you chuckle when you least expect it.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Deliciously witty, funny and clever, endlessly inventive and filled with Aardman's trademark eye for detail, Flushed Away has more for grown ups than for kids, although no age group could complain of being under nourished with entertainment in this film. Brimming with visual gags as well as sight gags and hilarious dialogue, the film skips from subversive satire to broad farce with ease. There is a British comic sensibility through it, which gives it a dry edge, but the filmmakers also let loose with some of the most inspired lunacy since The Goons.
The story contains classic subtexts, like having it all is not enough without friends, and a none-too original plot about a mad villain out to destroy the world. In the mix is the boy meets girl story ... But it's how the combined team of writers (quite a few of them) and directors (just two) tell the story that makes the film more than the sum of its parts. Not least, of course, is the marriage of Aardman's visual style with Dreamworks' digital prowess. The film is the first CGI animated feature for Aardman, and it is a surprisingly faithful recreation of claymation, complete with subtle smudges and shadings. But CGI gives the filmmakers a huge advantage in creating the world within which our hero and heroine do battle against the Toad and his accomplices. And let's not forget the singing slugs, who play a significant support role throughout.
The voices are superbly cast, not merely for marquee value but for genuine acting ability, notably Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian McKellen and French actor Jean Reno as Le Frog. Indeed, all the cast work wonders with characters inside the animated figures, so much so that we stop thinking of them as animation.
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FLUSHED AWAY (G)
VOICES: Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Jean Reno, Bill Nighy, Andy Serkis, Shane Richie, David Suchet, Miriam Margolyes, Rachel Rawlinson
PRODUCER: Cecil Kramer, Peter Lord, David Sproxton
DIRECTOR: David Bowers, Sam Fell
SCRIPT: Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais, Chris Lloyd, Joe Keenan, Will Davies
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Brad Blackbourn, Frank Passingham
EDITOR: Eric Dapkewitz, John Venzon
MUSIC: Harry Gregson-Williams
PRODUCTION DESIGN: David James
RUNNING TIME: 84 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 21, 2006
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