Monday, April 2, 2007

Flushed Away

This movie cements my opinion that Oscar blew it this year in the animation category. Flushed Away is a close second place behind Over the Hedge (another Dreamworks picture), and neither was even nominated. This is Aardman Entertainment's first fully CG film. You may recognize some of their past stop-motion animation with Wallace and Gromit, and Chicken Run. They make the transition into CG animation flawlessly. Flushed Away has a good story, strong characters, and brilliant animation.

The plot follows Roddy, a domesticated mouse (played by Hugh Jackman), who through a series of mishaps, gets flushed down the toilet. He finds himself lost in the sewer, and stumbles upon an entire city of sewer rats- a sort of Venice under the street. He meets up with Rita (played by Kate Winslet), and their chemistry is vibrant. They truly go back and forth between falling for each other, and hating each other. They must tolerate each other, however, to stop the villain of the movie- the Toad (played by Ian McKellen). Andy Serkis (yeah, he does more than Gollum and King Kong) and Jean Reno also provide fantastic voices to complete the main cast.

Of course, the primary aspect to talk about is the animation. The reason they decided to go CG was because of the amount of water and its important role in the film. It would have been too difficult to do fluid effects for every shot of a claymation picture. This is fine with me because they pulled it off spectacularly. This is truly evident in my favorite scene. a boat chase through the rat city involving boats, electric mixers (acting as jet skis), and an ill conceived toaster. This was a fantastically directed action sequence.

The only downfall in the movie was that the humor ran a little thin at times. Similar to the complaint I had with Shrek II, a bulk of the jokes were just parodies of other movies. There were references left and right- so many that I could not even begin to count them. Some of the better ones were homages to Finding Nemo, Mission Impossible, and James Bond. And I did appreciate the fact that the character Le Frog (Reno), and all of his followers were French. It was jokes like these that bumped this above being simply a children's cartoon, and created a movie all ages could enjoy.

One of the funniest parts of the movie revolved around the slugs. These little creatures popped up in almost every scene, and almost functioned as silent narrators, providing much of the soundtrack (when they weren't just screaming and fleeing in terror that is). I laughed almost every time at those buggers. They started to wear thin a little bit, along with the jokes, and an overextended fight sequence towards the end. But like I said, it was towards the end, so there wasn't much time for me to grow weary.

At an hour and twenty minutes it is certainly manageable for children, and never overstays its welcome. In a time where it's rare to see a movie under one and a half hours, Flushed Away is the perfect length. It's generally funny and engaging right up to the end. I just wish there had been a little more attempt at original content, instead of parodies. Despite this, it was a fantastic movie.


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