Flushed Away (2006) / Animation-Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG for some innuendo and language
Running Time: 84 min.
Cast (voices): Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian McKellen, Jean Reno, Bill Nighy, Andy Serkis, Shane Richie
Director: David Bowers, Sam Fell
Screenplay: Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais, Chris Lloyd, Joe Keenan, Will Davies
Flushed Away is the first fully computer animated feature from Aardman Animation (Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Chicken Run), and while it's disappointing to see them turn away from stop-motion animation (at least for this release), the good news is that it still matches the quality of its predecessors in good humor, fun characterizations, and a good deal of infectious energy. The premise is that a pet mouse named Roddy (Jackman, The Prestige) gets flushed down the toilet, going from his pampered life into the danger-filled sewers of London. His mission is to get back up to the world on top, but first he must help his newfound friend, Rita (Winslet, Finding Neverland), in her quest to escape the clutches of the malevolent Toad (McKellen, X-Men: The Last Stand), who wants to obtain the ruby she has stolen back from his possession, which he wants for his own evil plans to destroy the mouse horde living in the city of the sewers.
Depite the flood of computer animated features that have dominated the animated family film market in recent years, especially in the last year alone, Flushed Away manages to rise to the top of the heap thanks to some very fluid animation, good writing, and direction that manages to keep the tone of the droll humor and fast-moving action throughout. At only 84 minutes, it never bogs down with needless seriousness or scenes of emotional schmaltz, always seeking to keep audiences smiling with sight gags, allusions that are actually clever, and choice bits of music that accentuates the action instead of just being shoehorned in to hock soundtracks. If there is a downside, it's the plot itself, which is simple and relatively uncompelling, but does anyone see an animated film for the intricate plot?
I'll admit, after seeing so many of these kinds of features saturating multiplexes lately, there is a tedium factor involved in seeing another one, but I have to give Flushed Away the credit it deserves. It's one of the best examples of the burgeoning genre, although still quite formulaic in approach, but it does actually entertain all age demographics in equal measure, instead of just pandering to the very young. With excellent production values, quality voice work, and a healthy dose of imagination, Flushed Away proves itself to be something not easily disposable in the world of family animation.
©2006 Vince Leo