Eye For Film >> Movies >> Flushed Away (2006) Film Review
Oh dear, Aardman’s gone soft, or at least a bit flabby at the edges.
For the latest collaboration with Dreamworks they’ve ditched the familiar stop-motion antics of Wallace & Gromit in favour of slick, state-of-the-art CGI.
To be fair, that isn’t the real problem. The animation, in fact, is beautifully rendered and represents the best thing about this feature-length swashbuckler concerning a spoilt but lonely pet mouse who finds himself caught up trying to save a city of rodents in the sewers of London.
Roddy St James (voiced by Hugh Jackman) is the mouse in question. He relishes ruling the roost of his Kensington apartment while his owner is away – apart from the lack of company, of course – but when slobby Sid the rat (Shane Richie) drops in unexpectedly, he finds himself flushed unceremoniously down the nearest khazi and all alone in the sewers of London, save for a few screaming and singing slugs.
Clearly feeling that an adventure about a mouse trying to get back to his house would not be enough to sustain the film, the creators of Flushed Away start to lay on plotlines with a trowel. First there’s the ‘getting home’ adventure bit – which is by far the strongest element of the film. Roddy hooks up with risk-taker Rita (Kate Winslet) a shipwise gal who knows how to take care of herself.
She comes with sass – and a plotline of her own. For she is the keeper of her family’s ruby and is battling a nefarious toad (voiced gleefully by Ian McKellen) over it. Still not enough story, say the men at the top. So Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais jam on another layer of plot cement which sees the toad scheming to destroy the city of rats with a flood, helped ably by his Jean Reno-voiced French cousin Le Frog (yes, really).
Bits of this film, particularly the chase sequences between the frogs and Rita’s boat the Jammy Dodger, work well, with plenty of thrills and spills, but rather like Robots a few years ago, there’s almost too much going on for any of it to be truly satisfying. Irritating lazy racism against the French aside – and there’s more than enough of that to think you may have been transported to the 70s – things just don’t quite gel.
Despite the attempts to make this slick and bang up-to-date – plasma screens and pop culture references abound – it still feels curiously caught in aspic. For one thing, it’s set against the backdrop of the footy World Cup Finals – which surely makes its release date about four months too late and its topic less appealing to a Stateside audience – and for another, much of the ‘knockabout’ humour seems aimed at adults not kids. The film works best in its simpler moments, with the singing slugs, reminding us of the Aardman we all know and love, the best things in it. The rest of the mayhem lacks heart.Reviewed on: 30 Nov 2006