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Toonhound presents...






British Movie Toons
       "Flushed Away" (Aardman / DreamWorks)

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Flushed Away    (2006)
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   producers: DreamWorks Animation
                     & Aardman Features
CGI animation
      run time: 81 mins

    "Now you hop in, and I'll press this lever
     to get the bubbles going..."


    Roddy St. James is a “society rat” living a pampered life as a pet in a posh
    Kensington flat. His days are simply perfect until salacious Sid enters his abode.
    Roddy wants rid of his uninvited guest, but his clever scheme to flush the carbuncle
    away backfires horribly, and Roddy's own world is turned upside-down, head over
    heels and right around the U-bend, as he tumbles through the sewer system and
    into the heart of a sprawling underworld known as Ratropolis. Here he falls in with
    the sewer-wise rat Rita Malone, and falls out with the villainous Toad, and hench-rats
    Spike and Whitey. Rita and Roddy unwittingly hold the key to Toad's diabolical
    plan to flush away Ratropolis altogether. And when his henchman fail him once
    more, the green meanie calls in his arch cousin from France, Le Frog, to get
    the job done...

    "Flushed Away" was the third film to be produced as part of Aardman Animation's
    ongoing production agreement with DreamWorks SKG. The project was first
    announced in July 2002, and in what was then a surprise move, it was revealed
    as being Aardman's very first CGI feature project. The production was subsequently
    undertaken in Glendale, CA in the studios of DeamWorks Animation, with ne'er
    a stop-motion camera in sight. Incidentally, the studio defended their decision to
    go CGI by pointing out just how water-soaked the story was; water being
    notoriously tricky to animate using traditional stop-motion techniques.

    Stars giving voice to the characters were revealed throughout the production
    schedule. They included Hugh Jackman as Roddy, and Ian McKellen as Toad,
    alongside the likes of Bill Nighy, Andy Serkis and Jean Reno. For a while Nicole
    Kidman was mooted as the voice of Rita, but Kate Winslet subsequently filled
    the role.

    When the first trailers and ads for the film were launched, the billing was
    noticeably DreamWorks-centric. Indeed, the posters and trailers proclaimed
    that the film was from the creators of "Shrek" and "Madagascar". The four
    time Oscar-winning studio from Bristol were seemingly overlooked. But there
    was a marketing tactic behind this apparent "snub". Aardman's previous
    film for the studio, the magnificent Curse of the Were-Rabbit underperformed
    Stateside, despite being the best-reviewed film of 2005 and subsequently
    collecting an Academy Award. Such are the ins-and-outs of movie marketing.
    Still, things had been corrected by the time of the film's release, with  
    both studios receiving equal billing on the final posters and previews.

    What the butlers saw

    All films embark of various development twists and turns en route to the screen,
    and "Flushed Away" is no exception. It was at one stage even going to be
    called "Ratropolis". But here's one of the more interesting story changes for you,
    involving these two chaps:

     Gilbert & Sullivan in "Flushed Away" (AArdman/DreamWorks)

    You see, Roddy St. James was originally going to have  two butlers in his
    Kensington apartment, but alas, although Gilbert and Sullivan featured in the
    first promotional trailers they never made it to the finished film. They were
    dropped so as to facilitate Roddy's character progression. At the start
    of our story, Roddy's all alone in his opulent surroundings. He has everything
    he could possibly wish for, except companionship. Then he stumbles upon
    Ratropolis and Rita and her extended family and realises he would be far
    happier foregoing his riches for their wealth. Gilbert and Sullivan served only
    to muddy the waters of the story, so the hamsters were - well - they were
    flushed away...

    Box-office blockage

    "Flushed Away" opened in US cinemas on November 3rd 2006 and it swum off
    with a little over $64m. Worldwide it took just over $176m. But this had to be offset
    against an inflated $149m production budget. In February 2007, DreamWorks and
    Aardman decided to terminate their production partnership. And "Flushed Away"'s
    under-performance surely played its part in the boardroom decisions...

Flushed Away - Teaser Poster  Flushed Away - Release Poster

    Now, after all that preamble you might be forgiven for thinking this film is a flop.
    But you couldn't be further from the truth, because there's a veritable cistern's
    worth of delights to be had in this miniature tale. The film is a jingoistic
    triumph, celebrating all-things great and British - both modern and traditional.
    There are things to discover in almost every frame, it has bags of heart, and
    quick-fire wit and warmth.
    That unique Aardman look is to the fore in the characters and set designs, there are
    those familiar overbites, expressive mouths and hand gestures, and even though
    they're rendered on a computer, the characters look and move beautifully. Hells
    bells, there are even thumbprints and blemishes worked into the textures of the
    stars. The sets are stuffed-to-busting with invention, witty references, spoof product
    names and cameo billings. And there are those little asides and moments that only
    Aardman bring to the production table. You know the kind. The ones where
    there's a pause in the tale, where a character simply stops to think and blink
    and muse in such an affecting way. It's genius. It's 100% Aardman.

    You know, it's frustrating that folks don't always get the subtlety of Aardman's work.
    They can only see a pause, oblivious to the awkwardness within it. They don't
    always see the frailty of the character, the fragility of a relationship that's exposed
    by a twitch of the mouth, or a blink of an eye. There was a danger the DreamWorks
    machine would simply roll all that out of the production. But it's still here, thank
    goodness. And so too are those wonderful little character traits like - well - Rita's
    cute habit of adjusting her pants all the time. That's Aardman for you...

    ...only, this time, it isn't stop-motion and that may have proven an insurmountable
    obstacle for some viewers. You see, when you're watching a stop-motion movie,
    particularly an Aardman movie, part of you remains in an almost subconscious
    awe of the extraordinary effort involved. At some level, you are constantly aware of
    the frame rate, and the step-by-step manipulation of the characters. It's all hand
    made, and it's such hard graft. But once it becomes a series of rendered pixels,
    wrongly or rightly, you end up distancing yourself from the creation. No matter how
    fabulous the rendered frames are, that real-life blinking, twitching charm has gone.
    It's Aardman, all right. But it's just computers. Someone taps a keyboard and the
    software takes control. In other words, it's lost its uniqueness. And when you see
    those computerised thumbprints, you can't help but wonder how these characters
    might have looked as stop-motion stars.

    But you have to get over that. Now. Because "Flushed Away" is super-fun,
    and this reviewer reckons it's been wrongly sidelined since its theatrical release.
    Roddy St. James and Rita Malone can stand proud alongside Wallace and
    Gromit, and Ginger and Rocky. Heck, it'd be fun to revisit Ratropolis some day,
    via a TV series, or a short film or two. "Flushed Away" is Aardman at its very
    best, with singing slugs to boot. There just isn't any plasticene!


    Get flushed!

    "Flushed Away" is stuffed-to-busting with Aardman and DreamWorks nods in
    the background detail. And to prove this, The Hound has sat down again with
    the movie on DVD to identify a whole pipe-length
of it for you!...

    The Hound flushes out the hidden detail in Aardman/DreamWorks' "Flushed Away"!

     In the news

     The Hound: Feb 2007
               The Hound: October 2004
     The film wins 5 Annies...
                  Nicole Kidman joins the film?...

The Hound: Sept2006
              The Hound: August 2004
The fine new poster...                      Ian McKellen hops on board...

The Hound: July 2006              The Hound: July 2002
     The new trailer...                             The film is announced...


     Flushed Away on DVD

     UK DVD
Flushed Away
                Region 2 / Paramount / April 2007

     USA DVD Flushed Away (Widescreen Edition)
                Region 1 / DreamWorks / February 2007


    principle credits






film editing:
production design: art direction:
costume design:

Sam Fell (Aardman)
David Bowers (DreamWorks)
Peter Lord, David Sproxton,
Cecil Kramer
Maryann Garger

Steve Pegram
Sam Fell and Peter Lord,
Dick Clement & Ian LeFrenais
Dick Clement & Ian LeFrenais,
and Chris Lloyd & Joe Keenan,
and Will Davies

David Bowers, Robert Nelson Jacobs,
Sam Fell, Simon Nye, Paul Fisher,
Tim Sullivan
Harry Gregson-Williams
Brad Blackbourn, Frank Passingham
Eric Dapkewicz, John Venzon
Leslee Feldman
David James
Pierre-Olivier Vincent, Scott Wills
Jane Pooole
Hugh Jackman (Roddy)
Kate Winslett (Rita)
Ian McKellen (Toad)
Andi Serkis (Spike)
Bill Nighy (Whitey)
Shane Richie (Syd)
Geoffrey Palmer (Gilbert)
Simon Callow (Sullivan)
Jean Reno (Le Frog)
Kathy Burke (Rita's Mum)
David Suchet (Rita's Dad)
Miriam Margolyes (Rita's Grandmother)
John Motson (Football Commentator)


      On the web

     Flushed Away 
      The official site...

      Aardman Animation

      Bristol's finest export... 

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© Aardman Features / DreamWorks Animation / F2012