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Dirty rats

Movies | Flushed Away has some crude humor but a serious point

Issue: "GOP downfall," Nov. 18, 2006

Moviegoers can safely expect quality from Aardman Studios, which put out pictures like Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit. But while Flushed Away, the British animation house's latest work, certainly is well-crafted, some worry that the cheeky film misses its targeted young audience with crude humor that earns the animated film a PG rating.

The story centers on an uptown pet mouse named Roddy (voiced by Hugh Jackman) whose relatively posh life is interrupted when a sewer rat breaks into the house and disposes of Roddy by flushing him down the toilet.

Much of the film's crudeness is in the setting: Potty humor is hard to avoid in Flushed. Still, life in the sewers isn't quite as raunchy as the audience-and the main character-expects.

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In the sewer, Roddy finds his way to a rat underworld that mirrors London and is lorded over by a toad (Ian McKellen) with visions of sewer domination. On his quest to get back home, Roddy encounters all manner of sewer life, including a legion of slugs that, with Oompa-Loompa charm, provide delightful musical interludes.

But it's Roddy's relationship with a troubled female sewer rat upon which the story is based. And it's there that Aardman's storytellers pose a serious question. Up top, Roddy has all the conveniences of modern life. But relationships with doll-house characters and an owner who pays little attention to him leave him unsatisfied and deprived of mousy contact.

Down below, Roddy finds relationships to be meaningful, but conveniences-even cleanliness-hard to find. The trade-off is not just good for sewer rats to consider, but children and adults, too.

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