Flushed Away: Dreamworks Animation SKG
Owen Gleiberman
November 01, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

Flushed Away

Current Status
In Season
78 minutes
Wide Release Date
Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian McKellen, Jean Reno, Andy Serkis
David Bowers, Sam Fell
Paramount Pictures
Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais
Kids and Family, Animation
We gave it a B+

Flushed Away is being advertised as the new movie ”from the creators of Shrek and Madagascar,” and while that’s savvier than saying it’s ”from the bedlam-happy folks who brought you Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit,” it isn’t honest. The latest collaboration between DreamWorks and Britain’s sublimely bent Aardman studio, Flushed Away is a true hybrid. It’s the tale of an upper-crust pet mouse named Roddy St. James (voiced by Hugh Jackman as an ingratiatingly polite nerd) who gets flushed down a toilet and into the scavenger-happy sewer world under the streets of London. The movie has the fish-out-of-water arc you’d expect in a mainstream kiddie bash, as well as a sculpty CGI sheen that engagingly mimics, without quite reproducing, the thumbprint tactility of Aardman’s clay-figure style. Yet it also has a great deal of the Aardman spirit. In the sewer, Roddy discovers a squalid, overstuffed metropolis of rodents, amphibians, and shabby discarded bric-a-brac (kitchen tools become power boats, cheap souvenirs priceless treasures), and characters who have imposing egos, whether it’s the Toad, a genocidal frog king (an operatically funny Ian McKellen), still pining for when he was Prince Charles’ pet, or a crew of maggots who burst into ”Don’t Worry, Be Happy” at just the right moment. Flushed Away lacks the action-contraption dottiness of a Wallace and Gromit adventure, but it hits its own sweet spot of demented delight.

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