Flushed Away (2006)

Genres - Children's/Family  |   Sub-Genres - Family-Oriented Adventure, Family-Oriented Comedy  |   Release Date - Nov 3, 2006 (USA)  |   Run Time - 84 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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It's no surprise you won't find Nick Park's name anywhere on Flushed Away, other than a "special thanks" in the closing credits. Anyone acquainted with Park's beloved ambassadors, Wallace and Gromit, will recognize the London sewer rats in Flushed Away as descendents of that animation style. But when these characters -- with their familiar big eyes and smiling teeth -- are created digitally, rather than using Park's trademark stop-motion animation, it feels like a cheat. Wallace and Gromit were hand-crafted labors of love, designed as they were for the ease of repositioning their clay features. Mimicking them digitally feels like DreamWorks' cold attempt to reel viewers in through familiarity. No doubt Park would have also written a much more understated script than the breathless, manic effort churned out by the myriad of scribes given screenplay and story credits here. While having rats as main characters would not end up being a problem for Pixar's Ratatouille, it doesn't work so well on this excursion -- in part due to the whole icky toilet-flushing concept, but mostly because the rats aren't part of any real London a person can relate to. In some ways they do interact with the discarded refuse of a modern society, such as using a plastic bag as a parachute. But because they wear little tiny rat clothes, and have little tiny rat forks and rat spoons, the illusion of reality is shattered -- leaving Flushed Away as full-on kiddie entertainment, lacking the cleverness an adult requires. It doesn't help that Hugh Jackman's Roddy and Kate Winslet's Rita are being chased by a tiresome bunch of Cockney-accented rat hoodlums, who seem better-suited to a Guy Ritchie movie. Just because you have a faster animation process at your disposal doesn't mean you need to shortchange writing a story with heart.