Flushed Away David Bowers and Sam Fell

It’s hard to forget that Flushed Away is an Aardman production — everything is there to remind us: the signature eyes, the claymation "look” and of course, the "Britishness” of it all. However, Dreamworks is so determined to stress that this is indeed a partnership that the studio has slapped "from the creators of Shrek” on the DVD case and placed a prominent preview icon for the green ogre’s third film on the menu. Such blatant marketing is a shame, yet there’s no denying this is a collaboration between the two studios — Aardman has abandoned the beloved stop-motion animation of past endeavours and moved into the world of CGI, which means Dreamworks has its first real feature that isn’t a Shrek film to compete with Pixar. Flushed Away is the story of Roddy (voiced by Hugh Jackman), a lonely mouse in an affluent Kensington home in London, England. One day, his daily routine of toying around with dolls is interrupted by a house crasher named Sid (Shane Richie) and Roddy finds himself flushed down the toilet, entering the sewers of London. There, he meets Rita (Kate Winslet), a feisty ship captain fending off an evil toad (Ian McKellen) and his dim-witted goons (including Bill Nighy and Andy Serkis), as well as the dangerously cool Le Frog (Jean Reno). With Rita’s help, Roddy can make it back to his warm and cosy flat, but he soon realises there are bigger fish to fry in the underworld, and the twosome find themselves trying to stop the Toad’s master plan to abolish the sewer’s dwellers. It’s a shame that Flushed Away didn’t live up to its potential at the box office because it’s easily one of the better animated films to surface over the last while. The detail and warmth of good, old Wallace and Gromit are certainly in the air; the characters are likeable, especially Nighy’s oafish albino rat and Winslet’s sparkling Rita; and despite the obvious assistance from computers, the Aardman style of capturing the littlest everyday features (a boat made out of a Weetabix box and a Jammy Dodgers packet) is magnified in the sewer’s ample space. For the commentary, Bowers and Fell actually watch the film and spend more time cracking jokes than anything else, which may not give the technological explanations some desire but they certainly touch on enough creative elements to make it worthwhile. Plus: "slug songs,” featurettes. (Dreamworks)