Guilty Pleasures – Flushed Away

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I’ve got a deep love for films produced by Aardman animation. They’re charming, quirky and a classic throwback to the techniques of yesteryear, when animation was done by hand and not keyboard.

That’s not to say that such modern ideas aren’t attempted at Aardman. It can be hit or miss sometimes though, and with Flushed Away, it was practically criminally underrated.

Roddy is a decidedly upper-crust “society mouse” who lives the life of a beloved pet in a posh Kensington flat. When a sewer rat named Sid comes spewing out of the sink and decides he’s hit the jackpot, Roddy schemes to rid himself of the pest by luring him into the “whirlpool.” Sid may be an ignorant slob, but he’s no fool, so it is Roddy who winds up being flushed away into the bustling sewer world of Ratropolis.

There Roddy meets Rita, an enterprising scavenger who works the sewers in her faithful boat, the Jammy Dodger. Roddy immediately wants out, or rather, up; Rita wants to be paid for her trouble; and, speaking of trouble, the villainous Toad – who royally despises all rodents equally, making no distinction between mice and rats–wants them iced… literally. The Toad dispatches his two hapless hench-rats, Spike and Whitey, to get the job done. When they fail…

If there’s one thing that I love about this film, it’s how it combines the best of British and American humour, merging slapstick with sharp wit and genuinely funny characters.

It’s hard to laugh when you can spot a punchline coming from a mile away, but in this flick, I was genuinely laughing out loud. There’s just so many factors present here, and they all work.

From Hugh Jackman’s rat out of water character, Kate Winslet’s snarky tomb raider, Ian McKellen with a Royalty fetish and Jean Reno as the ultimate Stereotype, all the characters are just brilliant. Especially Spike and Whitey, voiced by Andy Serkis and Bill Nighy respectively.

And those slugs, those magnificent, slimy, song-imitating slugs that spew out the right song or atmospheric effect at the right time, a fantastic touch that never gets old.

And for a film that has gone full CG, it’s actually a nice nod to see touches of claymation present, from visible marks, fingerprints and cuts in the figures, through to their more animated motions sticking closely to the Aardman style.

Are there better Aardman films out there than Flushed Away? Undoubtedly yes, like the superb Chicken Run. But are there more fun films out there than Flushed Away from that stable? Hells no.

At the end of the day, Flushed Away was a perfect marriage of crass humour, running gags, dry jokes and sharp voice-acting. Why it underperformed at the box office is beyond me, but it’s a damn fine addition to my collection right now, and it deserves a second chance for those jokes to hit hard and fast.

Last Updated: October 3, 2012

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