Directed by Dick Clement, Sam Fell
Written by Sam Fell and Peter Lord & Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais (story) Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais (screenplay) & Chris Lloyd & Joe Keenan & Will Davies
Starring (voice): Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian McKellan, Jean Reno, Billy Nighy, Andy Serkis, Shane Richie.
I have written before of my admiration for Aardman Animations. And Flushed Away is their least impressive film. But that all relative: Aardman sets its bar so high that Flushed Away is still better than 90% of the animated films out there.
It’s the story of Roddy St. James (Hugh Jackman), a pet rat who lives in luxury in a fancy apartment*. When the family goes away, he enjoys his freedom until Sid (Shank Richie), a sewer rat, joins them. Roddy tries to trick Sid into the toilet in order to get rid of him, telling Sid it’s a Jacuzzi. But Sid knows a toilet when he sees it, and Roddy finds himself flushed into the sewers, where rats and other creatures have an entire city. In order to try to regain his place, he joins up with Rita Malone (Kate Winslet), who has a boat and is being chased by the Toad (Ian McKellan), who has sinister plans in mind for the rats living in the there.
The broke new ground for the company. They had always done stop motion animation for their films, but the problem of using water required them to switch to CGI.**
The film had generally good reviews, but not the usual glowing ones you Aaraman usually gets.*** The movie made a profit, but the numbers were lower than for Aardman’s previous two films. Dreamworks Animation, which distributed, was doing far better with Shrek and other films.**** At the same time, Aardman didn’t like the corporate interference. The two companies agreed to part ways. Aardnan went to Columbia/Sony for its next two films, the classics Arthur Christmas and The Pirates! Band of Misfits.
*Being a cartoon rat, Roddy has a closet full of clothes, one of which is a direct match for the suit worn by Wallace from Aarman’s Wallace and Gromit.
**It’s difficult to get water looking good in stop motion, plus the clay figures of the characters would get quickly ruined.
***Its Rotten Tomatoes score is 72% – good, but Aardman scores are usually in the 90s.
****Flushed Away had Dreamworks’s third-lowest box office numbers – it made money, but not hatfuls of it -- and other Aardman films did not come close to the box office of even minor Dreamworks films like the awful Bee Movie.