Aardman, the Bristol-based team behind Wallace and Gromit, join up with animation giants DreamWorks (Shrek) for their third big-screen adventure. Leading a strong list of A-List stars Hugh Jackman plays Roddy, a pet rat from a luxurious Kensington apartment who is accidentally flushed down the toilet and deposited in the London sewers below.
Amidst the garbage and festering faeces Roddy meets Rita (Winslet), a feisty fellow rodent who promises to help her new friend get back to his luxurious life above ground … for a price.
Although billed as a traditional Aardman movie, Flushed Away is closer in quality and style to American offerings such as Madagascar and Shark Tale.
Another contributing factor to this dip in performance is the absence of Aardman creator Nick Park who is presumably taking time off after his 10 year journey with The Curse of the Were-Rabbit ended in Oscar glory last year.
The movie does have its high point however, with a stunning high speed chase through the underground sewer system, buckets of movie in-jokes referencing everything from Terminator to Mary Poppins, and a remarkable level of attention to background detail filling every shot.
Of the cast, Ian McKellen is on top form as a megalomaniac toad and Shane Ritchie is an inspired choice to play an obese sewer rat, although Jackman lacks charisma in the central role and Winslet is wasted in a poorly written supporting part.
Much like the film itself, this special features package offers plenty of attractions for kids and adults alike.
An 8-minute “Meet the Cast” featurette introduces us to the A-list talent on show (as well as Shane Ritchie), while a chat with composer Harry Gregson-Williams reveals the difficulties he faced creating a score before the animation process was actually finished.
Perhaps the best bonus feature, however, is the talk track from directors Sam Fell and David Bowers, who thoughtfully point out all of the in-jokes and parodies hidden in the film. Ankle biters will no doubt be entertained by the “Super Slug Stuff” section which includes interactive games, creative activities and a load of slugs singing a bizarre version of the Scissors Sisters' “I Don't Feel Like Dancing”.
There is also a DreamWorks video jukebox featuring tunes from past glories including Shrek and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
Instead of using their usual stop-motion plasticine technique the team have opted for CGI animation (presumably at the studio’s behest to speed things along), removing much of the unique charm of their earlier efforts.
Staring: Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian McKellen, Jean Reno, Bill Nighy, Andy Serkis
Extras: Slug musical, The Music Of Flushed Away, Dreamworks Animation Video Jukebox, Filmmaker commentary, Meet the Cast, "Dreamworks kids" - A variety of fun-filled, engaging interactive games and creative activities just for kids, "Super Slug Stuff" - A whole host of fun with the all-squealing, all-singing, show-stealing slugs