New Aardman film is a disappointment

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New Aardman film is a disappointment

Pre-pubescent kids will undoubtedly love this movie but for anyone whose sense of humor has evolved beyond slapstick comedy, the movie itself is on the verge of needing to be flushed.
The movie is about a pampered pet mouse, Roddy (Hugh Jackman), who lives in a posh British home in Kensington and spends most of his time playing with Barbie dolls. Roddy’s life takes a serious spin when an intruder, Sid (Shane Richie), breaks in one night and flushes him down to a sewer where a city, which is a replica of his London, exists.
Roddy’s adventure continues when he meets the charming Rita (Kate Winslet), who is being chased by a gang headed by a toad (Ian McKellen), who has a sinister master plan to get rid of the mice in the sewer once and for all.
The cast voicing the animated film is star-studded and also includes French actor Jean Reno as Le Frog, the French cousin of the toad.
Yet the movie fails to take full advantage of the talents of these famous performers, due to its obvious plotlines and somewhat lame jokes.
And please, did someone say this was Hugh Jackman’s year?
He’s in almost every movie out, from Woody Allen’s “Scoop” to the upcoming Warner Brother’s animated 3D film, “Happy Feet.” Although many, including myself, think he’s cute and nice to look at, this is just too much!
Some of the movie is funny, especially Le Frog’s special operations frogs. His ridiculous accent and his low IQ help spice up the movie.
Rita’s grandmother is obsessed with Tom Jones, and mistakes Roddy for him, a joke that seems to be aimed at adults.
This computer animated featured film follows earlier efforts by Aardman Productions, which created stop-motion animated film such as the “Wallace & Gromit” series and “Chicken Run.” The characters have huge round bulging eyes and over-extended teeth that seem a dentist’s fantasy.
The only difference here is that this is the first computer-animated film from the production company.
“Flushed Away” is quite disappointing for those who were impressed by Aardman’s earlier stop-motion films. At least in the previous animations, the characters had some texture, which is absent here.
Another disappointment is that, other than long tails that can be seen from time to time, it is hard to tell whether the characters are mice or humans. If it’s a city of mice, why not use more imagination and make it look like a city of mice?
The sophisticated jokes found in the “Shrek” movies are also nowhere to be found in “Flushed Away.” There are a few scenes that mock Disney and Pixar animated movies including “Finding Nemo,” but not even the mockery is as powerful as that found in Shrek. For these reasons the movie finds it hard to distinguish itself from other animated features.
The story is pretty much a 21st century version of the town-and-country-mice story most people heard as small children. The technology used in the movie is 21st century as well. What it needs is more spice and less copying of the human world.

by Lee Ho-jeong
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