Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
David Bowers—“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days” (2012), “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” (2017), “Astro Boy” (2009)
DreamWorks Pictures, aka DreamWorks Studios, a production label of Amblin Partners
“Someone’s Going Down”
The resurrection of animated movies has too often been accompanied by the intrusion of toilet humor. Now comes a movie that takes toilet humor a bit literally. “Flushed Away” is an animated comedy about a rat who is flushed down a toilet into the world of the sewers.
The film advertises itself as being from the creators of “Shrek” and “Madagascar,” although it is more honestly from the creators of “Wallace and Gromit.” This is their first film to utilize CGI rather than their trademark claymation. Rumors claim that the film was originally written for pirates, but that the studios insisted no one would pay to see pirates (“Pirates of the Caribbean” had not yet come out). Consequently, they were forced to rewrite the story. It does seem apparent, however, that pirates were originally intended, and one becomes very curious what the movie would have been like had they stayed true to the original story.
In either case, “Flushed Away” is an enjoyable diversion that ranks as one of the better animated films from this year, although behind movies like “Cars,” “Over the Hedge,” and “Hoodwinked.”
Starring the voices of Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet, Roddy, the rat, must embark on a journey from the sewers back to his plush home in Kennsington, England. Along the way, he meets up with a girl rat and becomes embroiled in the plans of an evil toad out to destroy rathood.
Morally, the title itself should serve as warning as to the humor, but it is, in fact, not as bad as anticipated and far more clean than recent animated films like “Open Season” which pushed the limits of good taste. In “Flushed Away” there are scenes where rats spit on their hands, make disgusting noises, one passes gas, and eats slugs. There is no language that I heard, but parents should be aware that there is an ample supply of comic violence in the style of Bugs Bunny. Another criticism might be the appearance of a “doomsayer” who predicts the end of the world. With these objections in mind, and an awareness of children’s impressionability, “Flushed Away” was actually much better morally than I was expecting.
On a cinematic level, the movie will best appeal to fans of English humor, for it is a distinctly English comedy. In fact, Americans may miss some of the jokes, unless they watch a lot of “Monty Python.” Of course, that unique sense of humor may also be part of its appeal, for it differs from the humor we traditionally see. No doubt fans of “Wallace and Gromit” will love it. Roddy and his girlfriend make for good lead characters, and the villains poke fun at various elements of pop culture, as well as some well deserved slaps at the French. Musically inclined slugs follow our heroes throughout the story, and they evade French assassin frogs, save rathood from a massive flood, and sail up the sewer in a pirateship (oh, sorry, ratship).
The only real drawback to the movie is that it lacks any real message or moral for young children. There are no spiritual lessons to be learned, and the only seeming message is that everyone needs a family. Unfortunately, this theme is never really played out. Roddy finds out that he is lonely and decides to exchange his life of luxury for a family life, and yet the decision seems to completely lack emotion or feeling. Still, one can’t expect a truly moving experience from a movie entitled “Flushed Away.” Ultimately, it proves to be the equivalent of an hour and a half Bugs Bunny episode; fun, diverting, and entertaining.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None