“Flushed Away” a whoosh of a good time
At the risk of sounding repetitive or simply obvious, it bears repeating that computer animated films are currently the dominant wellspring of artistic creativity in the film industry. Whether it’s the competitiveness of the field that drives the standard higher, the lucrative bounties that even mediocre films in the genre can reap, or the sheer mass of gifted artists who have grown up with an optical mouse in one hand-digital animation can be counted on to deliver the most creative, original, and generally speaking most value for the entertainment dollar.
Case in point, “Flushed Away” a collaboration between DreamWorks (The “Shrek” films) and Aardman Features (“Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit”) that is so stuffed with ideas that pummel the viewer at break neck speed its impossible to catch the majority of them. Indeed, any five minute segment of the film, (which, despite the lavatorial based environs suggested in its title features very few bodily function gags) contains more rich imagination and endearing wit than a whole host of American comedies (especially any of the Adam Sandler variety).
While it’s true that it is impossible to watch “Flushed Away” without seeing the influence of DreamWorks’ arch rival Disney’s “It’s a Bug Life,” “Toy Story” or even “Monster’s Inc.” in nearly every frame-there’s plenty of fresh material to admire here. Oh, and action, lot’s of frenetic, sugar-high induced, don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss -something-hilarious action. Those hoping for a subdued night out need not apply.
Hugh Jackman (who finally is popping up in movies everywhere) voices Roddy, a pampered pet mouse living in a posh Kensington neighborhood where he has the run of the house when his owners leave on holiday. He lives out his James Bond fantasies playing with the inanimate toys, driving the Barbie cars and having the kind of selfish fun to which every bachelor can relate. But is he really happy?
When he gets booted down the loo by an unwelcome sewer rat (Shane Richie) Roddy slips and slides down into an underground world modeled after modern day England with bridges, buildings, and street scenes creatively constructed of every kind of discarded rubbish. He soon meets Rita (Kate Winslet) who’s being chased by the gangster rat henchman of The Toad (Ian Mckellan) who wants to steal her family ruby. A more dastardly plot that threatens the entire sewer civilization beckons.
Featuring physical gags a plenty, cultural references that out-do and out-wit even “Shrek”, sewer slugs that pop in like a Greek chorus to chirp funny ditties, predictable but still welcomed French jibes and a British sense of whimsical glee-“Flushed Away” is a delightful if somewhat derivative gem of a film. It’s pacing and fusillade of winning quips require and reward a second viewing-even for relenting parents who will get most of the humor–even if it whooshes over the heads of the kids who nonetheless won’t be bored for a second.
Rated PG- for crude humor and some language