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hooray for the soul singing slugs.

November 1, 2013

Soul.. singing.. slugs? What?

I’ll get to that in a moment..

Hey movie fans, would you like to see a film starring Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, and Ian McKellen? I bet you are nodding your head right now. You know who these people are and you like them.

You might also be at least somewhat familiar with Bill Nighy, Andy Serkis, and Jean Reno. Nighy has been in many many films, usually in supporting roles, such as the character Slartibartfast in the movie adaptation of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” and Shaun’s stepfather Phillip in “Shaun of the Dead.”

Serkis is most famous for providing the voice and motion capture for Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” films. Serkis also had a small part in another film starring Hugh Jackman, called “The Prestige,” which was a great movie about dueling stage magicians in late 19th century England. The other role I’ve seen Serkis play was a villain in the fantasy film “Inkheart,” which was fairly good.

Reno is most well-known for playing the hitman Leon in a classic film called “The Professional.” He also co-starred in “Mission Impossible,” and teamed up with Robert De Niro in one of the best action movies I’ve ever seen, called “Ronin.”  Reno is French, and has been in various French films, including the “Crimson Rivers” movies (the first one.. rather good.. the other two.. less so) and “Wasabi,” which was a lot of fun to watch.

Yeah, you probably have seen, or at least heard the voices of Nighy and Serkis and Reno.

I am guessing that, right now, you are going through your mind trying to remember what film has all these great people in it.

The movie is called “Flushed Away.” If you have children, or spend time with children, you’ve probably heard of this movie, but otherwise probably have not. It didn’t do all that well at the box office back in late 2006. I don’t know why. Sometimes people miss great movies, and so someone like me writes a little blog post about them, in hopes that more people will watch them.

“Flushed Away” is an animated film made for families to enjoy together.. one of those great animated movies that both kids and adults quite like.

The movie is British, and has British-style humour in it. Please don’t ask me to describe British humour (and yes, I like spelling certain words the British way, even though I am an American). Watch shows like “Mr. Bean,” “Fawlty Towers,” and “Keeping Up Appearances,” and you’ll have some idea. Lots of absurdity, original characters, sharp acting, great scripts.. and you get all that.. and more.. in “Flushed Away.”

Yes, but what about the slugs?

Just a moment..

The plot.. like so many animated films, the story of “Flushed Away” features anthropomorphic animals.. animals that walk on two legs, dress, look and talk like people. The animals in this movie.. mostly rats. Some rat characters are cute and endearing, some are creepy, but in an amusing way.

Jackman provides the voice for the main character Roddy, who lives as a pet. He is owned by a very rich family that has gone on holiday. Roddy has the place to himself. One day, a fat, crude rat named Sid, (voiced by Shane Richie, who I’d not heard of before) somehow manages to get up through the pipes of the house and ends up in the home where Roddy lives. Sid bullies Roddy and flushes him down the toilet.. which is why the film is called “Flushed Away.”

Roddy travels down down down through the pipes and ends up in a huge rat civilization patterned after modern London. He ends up first in conflict with, and then making friends with, a feisty female rat named Rita (voiced by Kate Winslet), who has a boat, and is in the salvage business. Rita is involved in a struggle with the chief villain of the film, The Great Toad, voiced by Ian McKellen. Quite an odd experience to hear one of the world’s most amazing speaking voices coming out of a very large animated toad wearing an evening jacket.

Roddy gets mixed up with Rita, and joins the struggle against Toad and his two rat henchman, voiced by Any Serkis and Bill Nighy. Rita has items Toad wants, and Toad sends his forces to go after Rita and Roddy. The bad rats don’t do a good enough job, so the Toad summons his French cousin, named Le Frog, who is a martial artist and head of a commando team of frogs. Le Frog and company then go after Roddy and Rita. More chaos ensues.

I don’t want to tell you the rest of the plot. The movie is very funny, smart, and quite enjoyable. There is even lots of great music in it, which brings me to..

The soul singing slugs.

Alright.. the slugs don’t spend most of the film singing, but they do sing.

The sewer where the rat city is located in is also occupied by a great many cute and funny slugs. Before seeing this film, I’d never thought I’d use the words “cute,” “funny” and “slugs” in the same sentence. Some slugs sometimes sing soul songs. Pardon the alliteration, I couldn’t resist, or at least, didn’t feel like resisting. I really like the slugs. Never thought I’d hear slugs sing soul.

Alright then.. even if you don’t have kids, and are generally not a huge fan of family animation, you’ll probably quite like this movie. It was made by a British company called Aardman Animations, which teamed up with American company Dreamworks. Dreamworks is famous for the “Shrek” trilogy (my recommendation.. watch the first one, skip the other two), “Over The Hedge,” (which was good) and other animated films. Aardman Animations is most well-known for the Wallace and Gromit shows, and the very funny kids’ series, “Shaun the Sheep.”

This past night, it was Halloween. My brother’s two younger children returned home with my brother and his wife after they went trick-or-treating, and we watched “Flushed Away.” Last year, as this year, I stayed home with the oldest kid, so he could pass out candy to other kids in the neighborhood who came to the door. While I was staying with him last year, I watched many episodes of “Shaun the Sheep,” and laughed a lot.

Ok.. so.. back to “Flushed Away”.. yes.. one of my favorite animated films. I have seen many animated family films, including most Disney and Pixar titles. I think “Flushed Away is better than almost all the other animated features I have seen.

I think you will like it.

Here is a trailer for the film:

You can even watch the full movie on youtube, if you don’t mind watching it in small segments.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to laugh!

(And enjoy the soul singing slugs. Hooray).

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