What is there to say about the latest animated movie to hit the silver screen? There are rats, jokes that are three years old and not a whole lot of laughs in between.Despite game efforts from A-listers Hugh Jackman (“The Prestige” and “X-Men”) and Kate Winslet (“Little Children” and “Titanic”), the end result is the same as you would expect from less-talented actors.
Jackman voices Roddy, a coddled pet rat who finds himself flushed down the toilet of his plush bachelor pad by an obnoxious sewer rat named Sid (Shane Richie, “Shoreditch”).
Thrown into a dog-eat-dog world he doesn’t understand, Roddy soon encounters tough street rat Rita (Winslet), who teaches him a thing or two about the “real world,” all while fending off the evil Toad (Ian McKellen, “X-Men” and “The Da Vinci Code”).
Toad is out to destroy all things associated with rats and mice. It is unclear for about half the movie why he has such disdain for the rodents but becomes clear as the movie progresses.
With the movie clocking in at less than 90 minutes, it doesn’t have too much time to develop the characters. As an end result, they are one-dimensional and flat.
“Flushed Away” is the best example of recent animated movies that depend too much on visuals and not enough on the story. While it is visual eye candy, it makes one yearn for classic Disney movies such as “Bambi” and “Beauty and the Best.”
Another pitfall of “Flushed” is many of the jokes fall flat. From the opening scene showing Roddy trying to decide whether to put on a tux or a wolverine costume – an obvious play on having Jackman voice the character – to having him hit or kicked in the groin about 14 times.
Although there isn’t a plethora of positives, there are two components that work well.
One is having McKellen on hand to play the villain. McKellen is naturally charismatic on screen, and that certainly doesn’t change when only his voice is present. And the other is the soundtrack. It takes songs from the past couple of decades and uses them effectively, although having the slugs sing them gets old after about minute five.
Maybe the movie plays more effectively to children, but the great animated movies know how to attract and keep adults’ attentions as well.
While “Flushed Away” isn’t the worst movie to come out this year – that honor still goes to “Man of the Year” – it does little more than circle the toilet bowl before it just drowns in its own filth.