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PW at the Movies: Flushed Away

PW at the Movies: Flushed Away

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Dreamworks' Flushed Away turns wastewater--a constant source of concern for public works pros like you--into entertainment. The hero of the computer-animated flick is Roddy (Hugh Jackman), a spoiled pet mouse whose world is swirled down the pipes when he's tricked into getting flushed down the loo of his owner's posh London home. Dazed and bewildered, he plops down in the midst of a bustling sewer-rat city, complete with fishmongers, water taxis, singing slugs, and citizens under the spell of World Cup fever.

As Roddy struggles to find a way back to his hoity-toity life, he lands in the slimy clutches of Toad (Ian McKellen), a nefarious amphibian plotting to lay waste to the rodentropolis so that his tadpole offspring can take over. He joins forces with Rita (Kate Winslet), the spunky captain of the boat The Jammy Dodger; she proves to be as formidable as she is fetching. But can she and Roddy outwit Toad and his toadies and make it back to the surface world in one piece?

Flushed Away is a wildly funny and entertaining flick that ably holds the attention of moviegoers aged anywhere from 5 to 55. The movie boasts an impressive roster of voice talent--Jackman, Winslet, McKellen, and Jean Reno, who plays Toad's dangerous and debonair cousin Le Frog--and the writers managed to artfully pair dry Brit wit with a more American sensibility (read: plenty of chase scenes and hits to the crotch) to come up with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.

The true stars of the movie, though, are the animators--each scene is eye-popping, engaging, and beautiful. Fans of old-school animation might have been disappointed upon hearing that the production company famed for Wallace & Gromit turning to computer-graphic interface (CGI) instead of its customary "claymation" style, but the animators manage to bring to Flushed Away the freedom and realism associated with computer animation without losing the richness and weight that traditional animation offers.

But enough of the "Ebert & Roeper" stuff. How realistic is the movie when it comes to depicting wastewater works? Not very. For starters, Roddy travels down the pipes and lands in the midst of the bustling sewer-rat community unharmed. In reality, he would have been churned into tiny bits long before facing doom at the hands of Toad's henchmen. Similarly, a representative of wastewater plant grinders remarked at the release of a certain Disney film, "In truth, no one would ever find Nemo, and the movie would be called Grinding Nemo." However, when you're watching a movie in which mice wear trousers and frogs speak with French accents, realism isn't really the question.

The real question is, what do kids think? Judging from the long strings of giggles heard in an opening weekend audience, children should find this flick quite entertaining. One 8-year-old boy especially liked the groin-stomping fall scenes. We suggest, however, that kids should be reminded it wouldn't be a good idea to flush their pet mouse down the toilet in an effort to reunite the pet with its friends.