Flushed Away is a 2006 computer-animated adventure comedy film directed by David Bowers and Sam Fell, produced by Cecil Kramer, David Sproxton, and Peter Lord, and written by Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais, Chris Lloyd, Joe Keenan and William Davies. It is the third and final film to be co-produced by Aardman Animations and DreamWorks Animation following Chicken Run (2000) and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005), and was Aardman's first completely computer-animated feature as opposed to their usual stop motion standard. The film stars the voices of Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Andy Serkis, Bill Nighy, Ian McKellen, Shane Richie and Jean Reno. In Flushed Away, a pet rat named Roddy St. James is flushed down the toilet by a sewer rat, and befriends a scavenger named Rita in order to return home while evading a toad and his rat henchmen.
Theatrical release poster
|Music by||Harry Gregson-Williams|
|Box office||$178 million|
The film was released in the United States by Paramount Pictures on 3 November 2006, and in the United Kingdom on 1 December 2006. Despite receiving positive reviews on Metacritic, Flushed Away underperformed at the box office, prompting DreamWorks to end their partnership with Aardman. The film received nominations for the BAFTA Award and Critics' Choice Award for Best Animated Feature. It also got 8 nominations at the 34th Annie Awards, winning a leading 5, including Writing in a Feature Production.
Roddy St. James is an upper class pet rat who makes his home in a posh Kensington flat. While his owners are away on holiday, a common sewer rat named Sid comes spewing out of the sink and decides to stay, especially as England are playing against Germany in the World Cup Final. Roddy schemes to get rid of Sid by luring him into the toilet, but Sid is not fooled, instead throwing Roddy in and flushing him away into the sewer.
Roddy discovers a city resembling London, Ratropolis, made out of various bits of junk, and meets Rita Malone, an enterprising scavenger rat who works the drains in her faithful boat, the Jammy Dodger. Rita is irritated by Roddy initially, but ends up taking him along. Her archenemy the Toad sends his rat henchmen, Spike and Whitey, after her for stealing back her father's prized ruby. The Toad loathes all rodents, and plans to have Roddy and Rita frozen with liquid nitrogen inside an icemaker. The pair escape, and Rita takes a unique electrical cable that is required to control Ratropolis' floodgates.
Roddy discovers that the ruby is a fake and breaks it in front of Rita. Outraged, Rita tries to attack Roddy, but eventually calms down and explains that she is only angry because her father (quite literally) broke every bone in his body trying to obtain it just for her to find that it was just a worthless fake. Roddy offers Rita a real ruby if she takes him back to Kensington, to which she agrees, and the pair first stop to visit her family before setting off. During Roddy's stay, he overhears a conversation that causes him to think that Rita is selling him to the Toad, so he reneges on the deal and steals the Jammy Dodger. When Rita catches up to him, she is able to clear up the misunderstanding. The pair evade a pursuit from Spike, Whitey, and their accomplices, and incensed at his minions' repeated failures, the Toad sends for his French cousin, known as Le Frog. It is revealed that the Toad was Prince Charles' favorite childhood pet until he was abruptly replaced by a pet rat and subsequently flushed down a toilet, resulting in his hatred of rodents. Le Frog and his subordinates intercept Roddy and Rita and retrieve the cable, sinking the Jammy Dodger in the process, but the duo use a plastic bag to lift themselves out of the sewer and back to Roddy's home.
Roddy pays Rita the promised ruby and an emerald, then shows her around his house. She at first believes he has family in the home, but notices his cage and realizes he is a pet. Rita tries to persuade Roddy to come with her, but he is too proud to admit that he is lonely. She departs, but is soon captured by the Toad. Talking to Sid about half-time, Roddy pieces together the Toad's plan: to open the gates during halftime of the World Cup, when all the humans will most likely be using their toilets. As a result, a great sewage flood will form and drown Ratropolis in sewage, allowing the Toad to use the city as a home for his tadpole offspring. Roddy gives Sid his cushy position and has Sid flush him back to the sewers. He frees Rita, and together they defeat the Toad and his henchmen and freeze the wave of sewage with his liquid nitrogen. Roddy later joins Rita as a first mate on her new boat. As they set off in the Jammy Dodger II, Le Frog and his hench-frogs are seen hitchhiking back to France. In a mid-credits scene, Roddy's original owner Tabitha brings a new pet cat to surprise him, much to Sid's horror, who is now enjoying the luxuries in Roddy's place.
- Hugh Jackman as Roderick "Roddy" St. James, a pampered but lonely pet rat living in a Kensington apartment with a wealthy English family. He is flushed down the toilet by Sid into the sewers.
- Kate Winslet as Rita Malone, a street-wise and rather mean-spirited scavenger rat and the oldest child of a large family. She is the captain of The Jammy Dodger and Roddy's close love interest.
- Ian McKellen as the Toad, a haughty amphibian wanting the entire rat population to be killed off so he can make room for his hundreds of offspring.
- Jean Reno as Le Frog, the Toad's French cousin. He masters martial arts and is the leader of a team of hench-frogs.
- Andy Serkis as Spike, one of the Toad's two top hench-rats. He is the quicker-witted and more aggressive of the two.
- Bill Nighy as Whitey, another of the Toad's two top hench-rats. Whitey is an albino rat, and Spike's partner. Unlike Spike, Whitey is sympathetic and less vicious, but is also ignorant and gullible.
- Shane Richie as Sid, an over-weight and lazy rat from the sewers. He is an acquaintance of Rita and her family, and the one who flushed Roddy down the toilet into the sewers.
- Kathy Burke and David Suchet as Mr. and Mrs. Malone, Rita's parents
- Miriam Margolyes as Rita's grandmother, who has a crush on Roddy mistaking him for Tom Jones.
- Rachel Rawlinson as Tabitha, Roddy's human owner.
The idea for a film about rats which fall in love in a sewer was proposed by animator Sam Fell during the production of Aardman Animation's Chicken Run (2000). At the time, Aardman encouraged everyone at the company to come up with ideas for features for the DreamWorks partnership. Fell, development executive Mike Cooper, and producer Peter Lord then developed the concept into a story before pitching it to DreamWorks. Lord described the pitch as "The African Queen with the gender roles reversed". Comic writing duo Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais were contracted to write the script, which had the working title Ratropolis.
Traditionally, Aardman have used stop-motion for their animated features, but it is complex to render water with this technique, and using real water can damage plasticine models. It would have been expensive to composite CGI into shots that include water, of which there are many in the movie, so they chose to make Flushed Away their first all-CGI production. This is the third and final of three Aardman-produced films released by DreamWorks. Aardman's experience with DreamWorks during the making of the film led to a split between the two studios.
|1.||"Be Seeing You My Friend"||3:49|
|2.||"Dancing with Myself"||Billy Idol||4:49|
|3.||"Are You Gonna Be My Girl"||Jet||3:34|
|4.||"She's a Lady"||Tom Jones||2:54|
|5.||"Ice Cold Rita"||Hugh Jackman & The Slugs||0:44|
|6.||"Bohemian Like You"||The Dandy Warhols||3:32|
|7.||"Marcel / That's Not Rice You're Eating"||Harry Gregson-Williams & The Slugs||0:55|
|8.||"What's New Pussycat?"||Tom Jones||2:17|
|9.||"Yakety Sax"||Boots Randolph||2:01|
|10.||"Mr. Lonely"||The Slugs||0:27|
|11.||"Don't Worry, Be Happy (with The Slugs intro)"||Bobby McFerrin||4:22|
|12.||"Proud Mary"||Tina Turner||5:25|
|13.||"Wonderful Night"||Fatboy Slim||2:37|
|14.||"Life in the Sewer"||Harry Gregson-Williams||4:40|
Coinciding with the film's release, a video game adaptation was released on the PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, Game Boy Advance, and on the Nintendo DS. Although having heavily negative reviews from critics, the game received an Annie Award for best animated video game.
Flushed Away was released on DVD 20 February 2007. It included behind the scenes, deleted info, Jammy Dodger videos and all new slug songs. It was released in the UK on 2 April 2007, where it was also packaged with a plasticine 'Slug Farm' kit. The film was released on Blu-ray by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment on 4 June 2019.
Flushed Away has a 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an average rating of 6.71/10 based on 137 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads "Clever and appealing for both children and adults, Flushed Away marks a successful entry into digital animated features for Aardman Animations." Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film a score of 74, indicating "generally favorable reviews."
Todd McCarthy of Variety gave the film a negative review, saying "As directed by David Bowers and Sam Fell, first-time feature helmers with long-term Aardman affiliations, the film boasts undeniably smart and eye-catching qualities that are significantly diluted by the relentlessly frantic and overbearing behavior of most characters; someone is always loudly imposing himself upon another, to diminishing returns of enjoyment." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B+, saying "Flushed Away lacks the action-contraption dottiness of a Wallace and Gromit adventure, but it hits its own sweet spot of demented delight." James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film three out of four stars, saying "It's better than 90% of the animated fare of the last few years. It's refreshing not to have to qualify the movie's appeal by appending the words, 'for the kids'." Jan Stuart of Newsday gave the film two out of four stars, saying "Despite the efforts of five writers and Aardman's trademark puppets, with their malleable eyebrows and cheeks bulging like those of a mumps sufferer, none of these characters are particularly endearing." Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post gave the film a positive review, saying "Flushed Away, Aardman's first computer-generated cartoon, does away with the clay but leaves the craft and emotion intact, resulting in a film that earns its place among the Aardman classics." Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film three out of four stars, saying "The short attention spans of directors David Bowers and Sam Fell are mostly forgivable because the movie is filled with so many entertaining characters."
Richard Corliss of Time gave the film a negative review, saying "Deficient in the comedy of reticence discouragement that is Aardman's (or maybe just Nick Park's) unique strength. I don't want to say the Englishmen were corrupted, but I think they allowed their strongest, quirkiest instincts to be tethered." Ted Fry of The Seattle Times gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "Fans of Wallace and Gromit may be puzzled by a visual disconnect in Flushed Away. They will certainly, however, be delighted by the unrelenting whimsy and fast-paced gags of a story that never slows down to think about where it's going next." Ty Burr of The Boston Globe gave the film two and a half stars out of five, saying "Kids will probably be in stinky-sewage heaven with the new computer-animated critter comedy Flushed Away, but even they may realize they're up the proverbial creek in a boat with a faulty motor." Jack Mathews of the New York Daily News gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "Though Flushed Away duplicates the stop-motion, clay animation look of Aardman's earlier Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit, it was made using computer software and its liberated action sequences are truly dazzling." Kyle Smith of the New York Post gave the film three out of four stars, saying "How this thing got made in Hollywood is a mystery, but I laughed at most of it, especially the mean stereotypes about the French and the even meaner stereotype about England's soccer team."
Flushed Away collected $64.5 million in the United States, which was below the average of other CGI films from DreamWorks Animation, and $111.8 million from international markets for a worldwide total of $176.3 million. The film opened to number three in its first weekend, with $18,814,323, behind Borat and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. Produced on a budget of $149 million, poor box office reception resulted in a $109-million write-down for DreamWorks Animation, and in a termination of the partnership with Aardman Animations.
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