I’ve been a fan of Aardman Films since “Creature Comforts”, a series of claymation “shorts” that were used as advertisements for the London Electricity Board many years ago. I was a little less keen on “Wallace and Gromit” – the tales of the eccentric inventor and his insightful and intelligent canine sidekick – but that has more to do with Wallace being a “Bloody Northerner” than any lack of entertainment value. In any case, their last two claymation films, “Chicken Run” and “Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” both have pride of place in my collection.
Their latest offering, “Flushed Away”, is a major break with tradition. Although the trademark cheesy grins are still ubiquitous, there is no “clay” to be seen anywhere – the whole thing is done using Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) instead of the old-skool claymation that we all know and love.
The plot is both simple and labyrinthine. Roddy St. James (Hugh Jackman), an upper-class pet rat from Kensington, is flushed down the toilet into the underworld, where he finds a city inhabited by rats… and “The Toad” (Ian McKellen). “The Toad” has a hatred of rats, and is hatching a plot to wash the rats away during the World Cup Final (that’s Football – or Soccer, as the Americans insist on calling it). During the ensuing hilarity, Roddy meets Rita (Kate Winslet), the aforementioned Toad, along with his French cousin, Le Frog (shouldn’t that be La Frog?) and his henchfrogs.
Like “Chicken Run”, I suspect that this will have limited appeal to the American Market, partly because of the use of English accents and idioms which so confuse our Transatlantic cousins. I am not sure whether the inclusion of a couple of loud American tourists will help or hurt in this regard.
The quality of the CGI is good enough to suspend disbelief and simply enjoy the film. The voicing is very well done, particularly The Toad and Le Frog. Anything involving the henchfrogs (one of whom is a mime!) or the slugs (or are they leeches?) is hilarious. The level of detail is amazing – this is one of those movies where you have to stay alert – blink and you’ll miss something.
“Have you seen my Dad?” (It’ll be funny when you see it)
“Is it a bird?”
“Is it a Plane?”
“Is that guy wearing my underpants?”
“I believe he said his name was Millicent Bystander”
“Pardon me, my fly’s undone”
“Any last requests?”
“Yes. Could you fly quite suddenly off the boat screaming like a girl?”
“You are becoming what we French call Le Fruitcake”
“You find my pain funny?”
“I find everyone’s pain funny but my own. I’m French!”
Le Frog: “Henchfrogs! We have a mission. Let nothing stand in our way. We leave immediately!”
Henchfrog: “What about Dinner?”
Le Frog: “We leave… in five hours.”
Le Frog: ok men, to action!”
Henchfrogs: “We Surrender!” (put hands up)
Le Frog: “No, not that one you idiots, the Kung-fu thing”
“These Brits don’t know the first thing about Football!”
“England is winning – anything’s possible!”
Verdict: Highly recommended.
Now Reading: C.S. Lewis: The Screwtape Letters