- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 4, 2006

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group dedicated to improving the entertainment lives of families, provides reviews of the latest movies from a parenting perspective. For more reviews, click on commonsensemedia.org.

‘Flushed Away’

Rating: PG for crude humor and some language.

Common Sense Media: On. For ages 5 and older.

(out of five stars)

Running time: 86 minutes

Common Sense review: “Flushed Away” tells the story of a snobby rat named Roddy (voiced by Hugh Jackman) who is living a cushy life in a London flat. His fancy cage is decked out with all of life’s necessities, and when the flat’s human residents are away, Roddy and his servant-rats live high on the hog.

Sid (Shane Richie) is the exact opposite of Roddy. He’s a low-life sewer rat who ends up in Roddy’s flat by way of the faucet. Once he gets a taste of luxury, he’s not too keen about going back to the sewer. One thing leads to another, and before you know it, Roddy’s headed to the town of Ratropolis (the sewers), and Sid is kicking back in the penthouse with a big-screen TV and remote control.

Below the city, Roddy finds a colorful world teeming with assorted creatures, including Rita (Kate Winslet), an entrepreneurial rat who squeaks out a living in the sewers with her trawler. All Roddy wants is to get back home, but first he and Rita have to contend with the malicious Toad (Ian McKellen). Toad hates rodents and decides to “flush out” the sewers, dispatching hench-rats Spike and Whitey (Andy Serkis and Bill Nighy) to do the job. When they fail, Toad calls in his cousin, the villainous Le Frog (Jean Reno), who is like a rodent version of Jabba the Hutt.

If you can get past the crude humor in “Flushed Away,” you’ll find it has an imaginative story line and amusing characters, including funny little slugs who are easily frightened. (They’re classic characters from Aardman Animations — the folks behind “Wallace and Gromit” and “Creature Comforts.”) There’s also a message: It’s a big world out there, if you’re willing to venture out of your comfort zone and experience it.

Common Sense note: Parents need to know that children definitely will want to see this animated adventure from the folks behind “Wallace and Gromit.”

Not surprisingly, considering the title, it has lots of potty humor: The story line revolves around a rat being flushed down a toilet into a sewer, and there are references to human waste, including one scene in which a character appears to grab a piece of excrement. Lots of cartoon violence, too. Toad is an evil villain, and Sid is a disgusting character who belches, passes gas and is generally crude. On the other hand, Rita is an independent girl who can fend for herself.

Families can talk about whether Sid should have flushed Roddy down the toilet. Was that the right thing to do? Was there an alternative solution? How did Roddy make the best of the situation once he was in Ratropolis? Was Rita right when she tried to abandon Roddy when he needed her most?

Sexual content: Roddy accidentally kisses a bride-rat on her wedding day. Females wear tight outfits and shake their behinds. Roddy accidentally pulls down Rita’s pants, revealing underwear. Innuendoes between Toad and Rita. References to Roddy being Rita’s boyfriend.

Language alert: Some mild phrases such as “Load of old rubbish” and “You idiots.”

Violence alert: Roddy takes a wild ride down the toilet, gulping for air. (He can’t swim.) He and Rita flee in her boat from villains while being shot at and threatened. A character gets “zapped” when the toaster he’s riding falls into the water. A character falls and lands on a block of cement. Assorted scenes with characters being shot, threatened, yelled at and electrocuted.

Commercialism alert: Everything in the sewer is cobbled together with assorted parts from name-brand appliances and everything else under the sun.

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