The British animated comedy Flushed Away offers 84 minutes of roller coaster fun at theaters. The pleasant results are very standard, but the process has fresh, fast deliveries plus a very impressive water chase, which would’ve been very difficult with production company Aardman’s standard claymation techniques.
The animation/graphics, a computerized version of claymation, have great textures and colors. Audiences can immerse themselves in a new waterworld, but the character development is pretty minimal. Hugh Jackman stars as Roddy, a fortunate rat living the high life when he’s knocked out of his comfort zone and introduced to a new world in the sewers.
An almost unrecognizable Jackman showcases his musical talents with a nice performance in a higher pitched voice. Roddy (a.k.a. Milicent Bystander) befriends the adventurous Rita, voiced by Kate Winslet (Titanic), who has a big family and big boat “down under” – both provide opportunities for Roddy to learn, grow, and predictably gain a love interest. Roddy does resist these changes, asking “what do I need a family and friend for?” but overall filmmakers breeze over the drama in favor of laughs.
Filmmakers also avoid stretching the story with more heart-touching moments, which could’ve been easily placed, to keep the action “rolling down the river.” Ian McKellen (X-Men) voices the villainous Toad and Jean Reno (The Professional, French Kiss) voices Toad’s cousin, Le Frog. “I find everyone’s pain funny, but my own,” says Le Frog. This amphibian assault is supported by the recognizable voices of Bill Nighy (Underworld, Love Actually) and Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings) who make a great pair as Whitey and Spike, respectively.
These comic relief bad guys have some great moments while the audience doesn’t have to worry about their desire for “unhappy endings with lots of violence.” The story has plenty of well-known British references (James Bond, Mary Poppins, fanatical soccer fans, even Gromit) plus running gags involving a tourist couple from Texas. Award winning animated short director Sam Fell teams with first time director/long time production assistant David Bowers (The Prince of Egypt, Shark Tale) to direct the story (compiled by nine writers).
Flushed Away successfully uses the formulaic balance of inside jokes for the adults and plenty of fast paced action, laughs, and music for children, complemented by a rapid fire soundtrack full of songs from Fatboy Slim, Tom Jones, and oh yeah… singing slugs. Recommended and rated PG for some crude humor, references, and language. Watch the ending credits (not for long) for an additional scene.