Sunday, November 12, 2006

Movie Log: Flushed Away

I was away last weekend, and I'll be away next weekend, so today I took the boys to see a real live movie in a theater. (I'm kind of pretending it's penance, but Flushed Away is from Aardman, the great Bristol stop-motion folks, and I wanted to see it anyway.)

This is only Aardman's third feature (after Chicken Run, which I still haven't seen, and the wonderful Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit), and first computer-animated film -- so I was a bit apprehensive. (The only review I've read of it was mildly dismissive, as well.)

But it's a quite solid movie, not a top-end animated film like Finding Nemo or The Incredibles, but a consistent film with a decent plot that doesn't sag or cease making sense at important points (I'm looking at you, Barnyard). It looks like an Aardman film, with CGI mimicking clay very nicely and giving everything a very dimensional, real feel. A lot of CGI movies feel like they're made of helium balloons -- everything is a bit too shiny and has no weight. That's not the case here.

The plot is pretty straightforward, and everyone about the age of twelve can figure out exactly where it's going from the middle of Reel One, but it moves along at a good clip (not too frenetic, but never quite stopping) and gets there humorously. Do I need to explicate that plot at this point? OK: this pet rat (Roddy, voiced by Hugh Jackman) gets flushed out of his posh Kensington home by a sewer rat interloper, meets a cute girl rat (Rita, voiced by Kate Winslet) in the unnamed rat city under London, and they have to dodge rat and frog gangsters to get Roddy home -- and then, of course, save the rat city from a Nefarious Plot.

The singing slugs are a real hoot, and all of the voice talent is well-cast -- they're name-ish actors, but not huge, above-the-title people (which always spells trouble for an animated movie -- anybody's name above the title is a bad sign). There are some jokes for adults, but not intrusive ones, and the action sequences work very well.

As a movie, it edges out Cars for me as the best new animated movie I've seen this year (but I've missed a few). Anybody who liked Wallace & Gromit should like this as well -- but slightly less, since this is a bit more formulaic and obvious.

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