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With: (voices) Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Bill Nighy, Shane Richie, Geoffrey Palmer, Simon Callow, Jean Reno
Written by: Sam Fell, Peter Lord, Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais, Chris Lloyd, Joe Keenan, Will Davies
Directed by: David Bowers, Sam Fell
MPAA Rating: PG for crude humor and some language
Running Time: 84
Date: 10/22/2006

Flushed Away (2006)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Toilet Humor

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

When someone at Studio Ghibli besides Hayao Miyazaki makes an animated movie, you can bet it'll be a good one. It may not be up to the work of the master himself, but pretty good nonetheless. Now Aardman Animations has produced a film by someone other than innovator Nick Park (Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit), and it does not pass the same test -- not by a long shot. Park has worked his entire career to avoid the usual kids' film template: fart and burp jokes and pop culture references wrapped up with chase scenes and smashed inside some kind of valuable lesson. First-time directors David Bowers and Sam Fell go the opposite route -- by embracing fart and burp jokes and pop culture references wrapped up with chase scenes and smashed inside some kind of valuable lesson. This time, a pet rat, Roddy (voiced by Hugh Jackman) living in an immaculate Kensington home pretends to be happy playing with Barbie dolls, but really he's lonely. Suddenly a vulgar visitor from the sewer, Sid (voiced by Shane Richie) explodes out of the kitchen sink. Roddy tries to flush him back, but Sid turns the tables and sends Roddy down there instead. The fussy fellow meets cute with scavenger Rita (voiced by Kate Winslet) and her large family, and later uncovers an evil plot, engineered by Toad (voiced by Ian McKellen), to wipe out all the rats. If you've already pictured the entire movie in your head, you're absolutely right. Flushed Away contains only one surprise: the method behind the madness of the evil plan. Otherwise, each and every character gets one joke that's repeated into infinity; the worst is Le Frog (voiced by Jean Reno), a French private eye assigned to retrieve a misplaced power cord, now in Rita's possession. Le Frog gets every single 30 year-old French joke imaginable, from a Marcel Marceau reference to "we surrender." Rather than the studio's usual claymation, Flushed Away is presented in computer animation designed to look like claymation; it's clean, but lacks a certain personal touch. It's too bad Rita couldn't have been the movie's focus; she's a rare sexy, smart, scrappy character in kids' films.

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