Flushed Away Review: Wasted Opportunity
by Alex Billington
November 4, 2006
Flushed Away is a far cry from the enjoyable, funny, and wonderful animation films like the Shrek franchise that have come from DreamWorks' 10-year-old animation division (now an independent spin-off known as DreamWorks Animation). A light-hearted movie about a pampered pet rat thrown in the sewers of London, Flushed Away deserves only to be flushed down the toilet itself. Its recognizable cast of voices doesn't help add much to what is already a very short and dull film.
Roddy St. James (voiced by Hugh Jackman) is a pampered pet rat of a young girl in London and lives the good life with nearly every amenity he can imagine. His owner and her parents leave the entire flat to him as they head out of town to catch the final game of the World Cup. Before long, a dirty sewer rat intruder named Sid (Shane Richie) arrives from the drain in the kitchen. In an attempt to get rid of him, Roddy is instead tossed by Sid into the toilet and flushes him down into the sewers, where Roddy ends up in a rat city. Roddy then goes on the adventure of his life as he meets Rita (Kate Winslet) and is soon pursued by menace The Toad (Sir Ian McKellen) and his two hench-rats Spike (Andy Serkis) and Whitey (Bill Nighy), as he tries to escape the sewers to get back to his lavish home.
I love animation and I do recognize that at this point in time most animated films are made more for children than for an audience of all ages to enjoy. Even after applying that filter to Flushed Away, I really don't think it's that great of a movie. It progresses through a harrowingly short 86 minutes and leaves not a second to catch your breath - something definitely needed with a movie that has as bad as a stench as this one. With only a few memorable scenes, Flushed lacks a heartfelt story like those for which rival Pixar is celebrated. What Flushed instead offers are childishly fun scenes of crotch hits, exaggerated physical comedy, and stupidly enjoyable humor, but at such an immature level that even parents will not want to sit through it. Even the screening crowd full of children hardly laughed at any of the movie.
DreamWorks Animation, working in concert with acclaimed animation house Aardman, can't create a compelling story around a solid cast of characters. The technical aspects are by contrast excellent: the scenery is vivid and the character design is unique. The style seemed to be a digital twist on the Aardman style made legendary in the "Wallace & Gromit" films with mouths over-opening during talking and a jilted feeling like claymation. Although quite noticeable initially, it doesn't take long to get used to this style. No technical achievements or great voice actors can make up for the awful storytelling and brainless comedy that makes up the bulk of Flushed Away.
An interesting observation: DreamWorks Animation must have had some troubled reactions initially or other creative differences internally with Aardman. They entirely cut any mention of Roddy's two butler hamsters that were seen often in the trailer. It seems as if an entirely new version with new animation, where they were removed, was made. I was looking forward to seeing them, but they were nowhere to be found. Although I am not fully aware of the circumstances, these creative differences between animation studio Aardman and DreamWorks were probably behind this quick re-hash and much poorer redo.
Unless your children demand you go see it, I'd suggest you stay home and rent Cars on DVD or try and find a theater still showing the much better Open Season. The singing slugs that make an appearance every 10 minutes in Flushed Away are the only parts that could garner any laughter from the crowds, even children, but beyond that there's nothing notably funny. Thankfully Flushed Away is quite short, so if you do end up seeing it you'll be happy to know that after the first 30 minutes there won't be much more to see. Hold off on watching an animated rat movie until Pixar's Ratatouille comes out next June.
Reader Feedback - 7 Comments
What a terrible review of a fantastic animated film. I found there to be plenty of "laugh out loud" moments for children and adults alike. I loved how fast paced it was, and as for the length it was perfect. What were you expecting? A titanic length film? As for the hamsters, I would guess they were removed to re-inforce the storyline (the fact being that Roddy had "no-one" but himself if he were to return to his home.)
Brendan on Jan 1, 2007
This review captured my thoughts exactly. Having seen my share of not-so-good but good-looking cgi animations in 2006 Flushed Away fit right in there. The story itself was rather different when Aardman pitched it to Dreamworks(it involved pirates and more typical British Wallace&Gromit like humour). Dreamworks told Aardman to change the script dramatically on two aacounts: 1) They said there was no market for a pirate movie (Pirates 1+2 were not released at the time Flushed Away was pitched) and 2) because Wallace & Gromit did not make a lot of box office money in the US they wanted a broader american style of humor, which explains the countless I hit my crotch jokes and physical 'humor' that adds nothing. The result is beautifully rendered animation, gorgeously designed characters, but no heart. Gone is the typical Aardman fun, and you end up with something as dreadful as Shark Tale. It is good to know the three film deal between Aardman and Dreamworks ended. They released a press conference that due to creative differences they will no longer be making any movies together.
Madison on Jan 6, 2007
The main reviewer wrote: "Even the screening crowd full of children hardly laughed at any of the movie." Really? Truly? Unbelievable! How old were they? We are a Finnish-British family (ages 39, 35, 12, & 6 x2) and we saw this twice, first dubbed into Finnish and then the original English language version, and not only we but the entire audience laughed themselves silly for the whole duration. Ok, so the junior members of the family (6 yrs) didn't get the subtle word jokes, but it went at such a great pace that there was never a dull moment. And OK, so Wallace and Gromit are more challenging characters, and we all agreed we couldn't imagine a sequal to this film, but who wants to make endless comparisons? Reviewer Madison seems more troubled by the politics of the film-making, and the in's and out's of Aardman vs Dreamworks. Can't you view a film without prejudice? Take it on its own merit!
elliot kÃ¶lhi on Jan 9, 2007
I too liked this movie and was shocked to find out that it wasn't warmly received. Furthermore it has been stated that it "bombed," which usually means it lost money in the theaters. According to some sites, it has made a profit. Perhaps not as much as hoped, but is that important to us? Aren't we supposed to "judge" a movie by itself and not the potential it may or may not have for another animation empire? It is truly mind warping how movies are judged by how much money they make in theaters, but getting numbers for dvd sales is a bit more difficult. Why is that? Lastly, I did not like Shark Tale, but as already stated, I loved this movie.
friend of Sid's cousin once removed... on Feb 24, 2007
This is completley ridiculous and I must agree with the fourth comment. Who are we to judge movies by the amount of money they rake in? This movie was, by far, the best animated film of the year. I was disappointed with Happy Feet, which did very well in the box office, but did nothing to make you care about the characters or even the film itself. The film was also released at a bad time. It was sandwiched between Borat and Happy Feet. Borat, for the older audience and teenage crowd. Happy Feet, for the younger kids. I hate to see this movie looked at to be a complete failure when it really was very, very good. The visuals were absolutley stunning. So they weren't Pixar worthy? Big deal. The story is refreshing and fun, and the details on all the characters are so intricate you may find it hard to believe things like this can actually be done with computers. Aardman will do much better now that Dream Works is gone, and I hope to see these characters again someday.
Jamie on Mar 13, 2007
Sounds to me like some reviewers are too full of themselves to enjoy much of anything! We have watched "Flushed Away" several times on HBO and found it rather entertaining. I especially like the Slugs. Maybe if one just watches a movie without any preconceived notions. Our viewing habits have become so jaded that we tear apart an animated film because it isn't sophisticated enough. I watched again because it was just plain silly and a release from the reality of the increasingly distressing state of the times we live in. As for "Happy Feet", I hope that the message wasn't lost on all viewers, or are people so self absorbed as to miss the point! By the way, my husband and I are in our 40's with no children and both films were something we would watch again, albeit for different reasons.
Barbara on Sep 29, 2007
Flushed Away is the best animated movie I've ever watched, and trust me, I've seen many animated movies out there, some of which are in a different language too. And it's pretty hard to get me liking them. Open Season and Cars are pure crap compared to Flushed Away! Their story line, and characters aren't that creative compared to Flushed Away. Looks like the person who wrote this review is a pixar fan -_- ' I personally don't like the pixar films, mostly because of their focus on romance. but some of them I can tolerate. Take it from me guys, trash cars and open season, and bag flushed away! ;D
Jackokin on May 12, 2011
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