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Flushed Away
Could it become a successful British animated film?
Flushed Away
A Scene from the Animated "Flushed Away".
OPENING WEEKEND: $18,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $71,000,000
OTHER PREVIEWS: Man About Town (5/10)
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

May 22nd, 2006: Roddy (Hugh Jackman) is a refined rat, living a life of comfort and luxury in an upscale Kensington flat in London. One day, when a common sewer rat named Syd (Shane Richie) intrudes on his lifestyle via the bathroom sink, Roddy attempts to eliminate the unwelcome pest by trying to flush him down the toilet. His scheme to lure Syd into the toilet by telling him itís a lavish whirlpool bath backfires when the clever guest pushes Roddy in instead. As one might expect, Roddy gets flushed down to the underground sewers, a world very much unlike his own. As he explores this universe, also known as Ratropolis, he encounters a female rat named Rita (Kate Winslet), who is a sewer boat captain. She is an entrepreneur Ė always looking for new ideas that will give her the opportunity to leave the London cesspool behind for the glorious Parisian sewers. One of the inhabitants of the sewage tunnels is the gruesome Toad (Ian McKellen), who despises all rodents and wants them eliminated. After his two henchmen Spike (Andy Serkis) and Whitey (Bill Nighy) fail their assignment to make Rita and Roddy disappear, Toad has to consider more drastic alternatives. He sends for his cousin, Le Frog (Jean Reno), a dreadful and ruthless mercenary.

What to Expect: Flushed Away will be a product of collaboration between Aardman Animations and DreamWorks, combining British humor with slick American animation. Aardman is the studio responsible for those distinctly characteristic claymation films like Wallace & Gromit. However, this is not the first time they will work together with DreamWorks since the two actually teamed up for the excellent Chicken Run, which marked the first ever claymation full-length feature film, and last yearís Oscar winning Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Flushed Away will retain the trademark style and characterization of those movies, but DreamWorks is pushing the animation in a new direction. While it will still look like claymation, it will actually be computer generated. David Bowers and Sam Fell both possess experience in animated features and both have worked on Aardman productions previously so they should have the right sensibilities for the project, however, neither director has worked on a full-length feature before.

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The cast in Flushed Away is terrific, but it might also prove to be one of the filmís major obsticles on the road to success in the United States. Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, and Ian McKellen are outstanding choices for the lead parts, but they are all Brits in a cast that does not feature any Americans in the mix. Well, Jackman is actually Australian, but heís playing British in the movie. I have absolutely nothing against the United Kingdom or its fine list of reputable and talented actors, but the majority of the American population might, as they have shown in the past. Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit may have been award worthy, but for a family animated feature it was a bit of a commercial disappointment, totaling only about $56 million at the box-office. Thatís not a bad number considering it doubled the filmís budget, but it is relatively small when compared to other Pixar or DreamWorks endeavors. Chicken Run managed to collect a much more impressive $107 million during the theatrical run in the U.S., but you have to speculate that Mel Gibsonís vocal contributions were a big factor in what would have otherwise been another all British cast.

Unfortunately, the problem, if it can in fact be considered a problem, goes beyond the casting for the movie. For some, I believe that there is a slightly negative association with British humor and British productions in general. Anyone remember last Augustís animated feature Valiant? Everything about Flushed Away just screams British. Thereís always room for their particular brand of humor, but it can be an acquired taste, which kids tend not to identify with. The climax in Flushed Away reportedly revolves around the details of a World Cup soccer match, which is an exciting event in a sport that thrives all over the world, except in America. When you throw British actors into the mix, some heavily accented at that, as well as British settings, it becomes like a foreign film, which many people really donít want to see. Iím also hesitant about the animation in general. Personally, I really like it and Iíve liked it since the first feature, Chicken Run, but I think it can seem a little unflattering and perhaps even creepy to someone just catching a few moments from the trailer. Aardmanís characterizations did seem that way to me at one point.

Having mentioned all the elements that Flushed Away will be up against, itís important to note that the movie looks like a good one in general. Reports from early screenings suggest that it has lots of quirky charm and engaging, ironic humor. The CGI seems to look outstanding, losing the luster and color in order to retain some of the crudeness found in claymation. Uncharacteristically for DreamWorks, Flushed Away supposedly features less of the incidental pop culture jokes, which have been sacrificed to help develop the story in a more classical sense. Although it may lack the same incredible and universal appeal in the end, Flushed Away seems a lot more like a Disney-Pixar venture.

In Conclusion: I would like to clearly indicate that in no way am I opposed to British culture, humor, films, actors, or sports. I have seen countless British movies that I have loved, including excellent ones from the Aardman Animations repertoire, and I believe that Flushed Away will be well worth checking out. In my discussion, I merely wanted to point out that productions such as Flushed Away donít seem to ever get a good response from American audiences. People just do not identify with a World Cup soccer match the way they do with the seventh-inning stretch. You put those rats in Brooklyn, have Robert De Niro do a voice, and throw a World Series between the Yankees and the Braves into the mix and you probably have a hit.

Similar Titles: Chicken Run, Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, A Bugís Life
November 3rd, 2006 (wide)
February 20th, 2007 (DVD)


David Bowers, Sam Fell

Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Bill Nighy, Simon Callow, Shane Richie, Geoffrey Palmer, Jean Reno

Total: 51 vote(s).

Animation, Comedy, Kids & Family

Click here to view site

Rated PG for crude humor and some language

86 min






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