Flushed Away (U) <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

A curious hybrid of styles, this, melding the English eccentricity of Aardman Studios with the American slickness of DreamWorks. A pampered pet mouse, Roddy St James (voiced by Hugh Jackman), falls foul of a sewer rat and is flushed down the loo, where a whole rodent metropolis awaits him in the sewers. Here it befalls him and scavenger rat Rita (Kate Winslet) to save the place from the evil masterplan of a gigantic toad (Ian McKellen) and his ratty henchmen (Bill Nighy, Andy Serkis). The script, by Britcom veterans Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais (and others), is a transatlantic collaboration that's rather hit-and-miss: the frog mime, the serenading chorus of slugs and McKellen's ripe royal toadying are all pretty funny, and even the dig at those cheese-eating surrender monkeys, the French, gets a big laugh. Set against them is a lame running commentary on an England vs Germany World Cup Final (yeah, right) and breakneck chase sequences that are way too frenetic. You can see why DreamWorks would welcome an alliance with Aardman, but the homely plasticene stylings of the latter - goggle eyes, tombstone teeth - are not enhanced by computer animation. Agreeable family fun, but not a patch on Wallace, Gromit or the Were-Rabbit.