The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - REVIEWS FILM - Don­ald Clarke

FLUSHED AWAY ★★★ Di­rected by David Bow­ers and Sam Fell. Voices of Kate Winslet, Hugh Jack­man, Ian McKellen, Jean Reno, Andy Serkis, Bill Nighy, Shane Richie, David Suchet, Miriam Mar­golyes G cert, gen re­lease, 84 min A GREAT deal of work has, I’m sure, gone into Aard­man An­i­ma­tion’s first com­puter-gen­er­ated fea­ture. In­deed, the fact that the film cen­tres on a con­tem­po­rary World Cup fi­nal be­tween Eng­land and Ger­many (yeah, right) sug­gests that the an­i­ma­tors were so in­un­dated they were un­able to meet their ini­tial dead­line.

For all their ef­forts, Flushed Away does, none­the­less, come across a lit­tle like Aard­man Lite. An ef­fi­cient, if sig­nif­i­cantly cooler, Plas­ticine sim­u­la­tion pro­gramme now stands in for the clay­ma­tion tech­niques that brought Wal­lace and Gromit to life. The rats, frogs and slugs that pop­u­late the film have the same glued-on eyes and flexible mono­tone flesh we re­mem­ber from the stu­dio’s best films, but they no longer dis­play vis­i­ble fin­ger­prints as a record of their creators’ ded­i­ca­tion. Mean­while, the quaint yet sin­is­ter Eng­land of Eal­ing and Ham­mer has been re­placed with a Lon­don mod­elled on pic­ture post­cards and Richard Cur­tis films.

That said, Flushed Away re­mains a very funny piece of work and, in its brac­ing vul­gar­ity and de­vo­tion to the dumb gag, acts as a sat­is­fac­to­rily broad re­tort to the swathe of dull, heart­less dig­i­tal fea­tures that fouled-up the sum­mer of 2006.

Roddy St James (voiced by Hugh Jack­man), a posh rat, pet to a Kens­ing­ton teenager, is taken aback when a work­ing-class ani- mal from the same species in­vades his mas­ter’s home and – like sim­i­lar char­ac­ters in films by Pa­solini and Losey – be­gins foul­ing up the air with his ag­gres­sive nor­mal­ity.

Roddy at­tempts to flush the in­vader down the loo, but, the class pol­i­tics of Bri­tish cin­ema dic­tat­ing that the poor are cun­ning, finds him­self hurtling down the u-bend to­wards an un­der­ground Lon­don full of crafty cock­ney ro­dents and com­i­cally sur­prised slugs. There he teams up with Kate Winslet’s mariner rat in her at­tempts to thwart the evil schemes of a mega­lo­ma­niac toad voiced, with di­a­bol­i­cal glee, by Ian McKellen.

As is the way with th­ese things, we have to en­dure many in­stances of an­i­mals gy­rat­ing to pop tunes and more than a few char­ac­ter arcs of dead­en­ing pre­dictabil­ity. But you are never more than a minute away from a de­cent joke. Any fam­ily film that can take over $50 mil­lion in the US with­out jet­ti­son­ing a Larry Grayson ref­er­ence or an al­lu­sion to a “bum like a Ja­panese flag” is all right by me.

Rat pack: our he­roes are in deep doo-doo in Flushed Away

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