The people are Aardman are among the only western animators who still seem to put story and character ahead of computer animated theatrics and big name casting. Chicken Run and the Wallace and Grommit movie were both delightful. Now they have released their first CGI based film called Flushed Away.
Although it is CGI, Flushed Away is animated in a fashion to make it look like itís stop motion animation like the studioís other works. The characters look like they are made from fleshy clay and their mouths move in the same staccato pattern of their clay siblings. The characters are designed with the same bulgy eyes and bean shaped mouths as those from the Aardman world.
But the best similarity between this film and the others is that itís also damn funny. It has the same absurd sense of humour that the others have. The jokes are smart and bizarre and they come quickly. They will definitely fly over the heads of the slower wits in the room. At least there are a lot of great sight gags to keep them entertained. Ian McKellen and Jean Reno as evil frogs are especially delightful.
The problem with Flushed Away is that its story is a bit pedestrian. Maybe the Aardman folks are picking up some of the laziness of their Dreamworks buddies and becoming too interested in signing big names over writing good stories. This isnít Shreck. The story actually should mean something. You can tell when the story is thin because the film rushes from one plot point to the next without investing its audience in a scene. When youíve got a good narrative going it doesnít have to be at breakneck speed to keep us entertained.
Fortunately, the jokes are tight enough and the length of the film is short enough that that silly story is overcome and the film remains entertaining. I just recommend the film makers remember what makes good animation is not just filling the screen with cute and wisecracking animals but giving its audience a meaningful story that will resonate with them. Keeping the level of the jokes this high will keep me coming back.