Flushed Away

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Flushed Away
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Screenplay by
Story by
Produced by
Edited by
Music byHarry Gregson-Williams
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 22 October 2006 (2006-10-22) (Tokyo)
  • 3 November 2006 (2006-11-03) (United States)
  • 1 December 2006 (2006-12-01) (United Kingdom)
Running time
85 minutes[2]
  • United States[2]
  • United Kingdom[2]
Budget$149 million[3]
Box office$178.3 million[3]

Flushed Away is a 2006 animated adventure comedy film directed by Sam Fell and David Bowers (in their feature directorial debuts), produced by Cecil Kramer, David Sproxton, and Peter Lord, and written by Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais, Chris Lloyd, Joe Keenan and Will Davies.[2] It was the third and final DreamWorks Animation film co-produced with Aardman Features following Chicken Run (2000) and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005), and was the first Aardman project mostly made in CGI animation as opposed to starting with their usual stop-motion[4] – this was because using water on plasticine models could damage them, and it was complex to render the effect in another way. The film stars the voices of Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian McKellen, Shane Richie, Bill Nighy, Andy Serkis and Jean Reno. In the film, a pampered fancy rat named Roddy St. James (Jackman) is flushed down the toilet in his Kensington apartment by a sewer rat named Sid (Richie), and befriends a scavenger named Rita Malone (Winslet) in order to get back home while evading a sinister toad (McKellen) and his hench-rats (Nighy and Serkis).

The idea about rats that fall in love in sewers was created by animator Fell during the production of Chicken Run. In 2001, Fell developed the concept into a story before pitching it to DreamWorks. The project was first announced in July 2002, followed with comic writing duo Clement and La Frenais contracted to write the script, which had the working title Ratropolis. In 2003, Bowers joined in to direct the film with Fell.

The film's world premiere was held at the Toho Cinemas Theatre in Roppongi Hills during the Tokyo International Film Festival on October 22, 2006,[5] followed by the wide release in United States by Paramount Pictures on 3 November 2006, and in the United Kingdom by UIP on 1 December. Despite receiving positive reviews from critics, Flushed Away performed poorly at the box office, prompting DreamWorks to end their partnership with Aardman and take a $109-million write-down. It grossed over $178 million worldwide against its $149 million budget. The film received nominations for the BAFTA Award and Critics' Choice Award for Best Animated Feature. It also got eight nominations at the 34th Annie Awards, winning a leading five, including Writing in a Feature Production, and Voice Acting in a Feature Production award for McKellen.


Roddy St. James is a pampered pet rat who lives in a large Kensington apartment. One night, while his owners are away on holiday, a sewer rat named Sid spews out of the sink's drain and decides to stay and watch the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final. Roddy attempts to get rid of Sid by flushing him down the Jacuzzi brand toilet, falsely claiming it to be an actual jacuzzi, but Sid is not fooled and flushes Roddy instead.

Roddy finds himself in Ratropolis, a sewer city made out of various bits of junk that resembles London. He is told to seek out Rita Malone, an enterprising scavenger who works the drains in her faithful boat, the Jammy Dodger, who can possibly help him get home. Roddy and Rita are abducted by rats Spike and Whitey and brought before their boss, the Toad, as Rita stole back a prized ruby originally scavenged by her father. The Toad plans to have Roddy and Rita frozen with liquid nitrogen, but the pair escape. Rita takes the ruby, and a unique electric master cable required to control Ratropolis' sewer floodgates.

Roddy deduces that the ruby is a fake and easily shatters it, enraging Rita. Roddy offers Rita a real ruby if she takes him back to Kensington, to which she agrees. The pair first stop to visit her family before setting off. During Roddy's stay, he overhears a conversation that causes him to assume that Rita is selling him out to the Toad, so he reneges on the deal and steals the Jammy Dodger. When Rita catches up to him, she is able to clear up the misunderstanding. The pair evade pursuit from Spike, Whitey, and their accomplices.

Incensed at his minions' repeated failures, the Toad sends for his French cousin, Le Frog. It is revealed that the Toad was King Charles' favorite childhood pet until he was abruptly replaced by a rat and flushed down a toilet, resulting in his hatred of rodents. Le Frog and his subordinates intercept Roddy and Rita to retrieve the cable, but the duo manages to escape out of the sewer drain and back to Roddy's apartment, though the Jammy Dodger is destroyed.

Roddy pays Rita the promised ruby and an emerald, then shows her around his apartment. She at first believes he has family, but notices his cage and realizes he is a pet and alone. Rita tries to persuade Roddy to come with her, but he is too proud to admit his loneliness and rebuffs her. Rita leaves the apartment via the toilet only for her to be kidnapped, with the Toad taking back the master cable. The distraught Roddy joins Sid to watch the game. When Sid mentions half-time, Roddy pieces together the Toad's plan: to open the floodgates during half-time of the World Cup, when all the humans will most likely be using their toilets, allowing the ensuing, enormous wave of drainage to destroy Ratropolis, allowing the Toad to use the depopulated city as a home for his tadpole children. Roddy entrusts Sid with his home and cushy position, and has Sid flush him back down the sewers again. He frees Rita, and together they defeat the Toad and his henchman by getting Toad and Le Frog's tongues stuck to moving gears and freeze the wave of drainage with liquid nitrogen. Hailed as a hero, Roddy agrees to stay in Ratropolis with Rita. Soon after, the two, as well as Rita's family, set off on the Jammy Dodger II.

In a mid-credits scene, Sid continues to relax at his new home in Kensington. However, when Roddy's owners return, the daughter, Tabitha, finds Sid on the couch and introduces him to their new cat, much to his horror.

Voice cast[edit]

  • Hugh Jackman as Roddy St. James, a Pampered pet rat who lives in a Kensington luxury apartment with a wealthy British family. He is flushed down the toilet by Sid the sewer rat into the sewer drains.
  • Kate Winslet as Rita Malone, a street-wise and rather aloof scavenger rat and the oldest child of a large family. She is the captain of the Jammy Dodger.
  • Ian McKellen as the Toad, a tyrannical cane toad and the main antagonist who wants to get rid of the entire population of Ratropolis to make room for his hundreds of offspring. For his performance, Ian McKellen won the Annie Award for Voice Acting in a Feature Production.
  • Jean Reno as Le Frog, the Toad's French cousin. He refers to the Toad as "my warty English cousin". He masters martial arts and is the leader of a team of hench-frogs.
  • Andy Serkis as Spike, one of the Toad's two top hench-rats. He is the quicker-witted and more aggressive of the two.
  • Bill Nighy as Whitey, another of the Toad's two top hench-rats. Whitey is an albino rat, and Spike's partner. Unlike Spike, Whitey is sympathetic and less vicious but is also ignorant and gullible.
  • Shane Richie as Sid, an over-weight and lazy sewer rat from the sewer drain. He is the one who flushes Roddy down his own toilet and is an acquaintance of Rita and her family.
  • David Suchet and Kathy Burke as Mr. and Mrs. Malone respectively, Rita's parents
  • Miriam Margolyes as Rita's grandmother, who has a crush on Roddy mistaking him for Tom Jones.
  • Christopher Fairbank as Thimblenose Ted, another henchman that serves as the Toad's third-best enforcer after Spike and Whitey. Fairbank also voiced the cockroach living in the Malone household.


The idea for a film about rats that fall in love in sewers was proposed by animator Sam Fell during the production of Aardman Animation's Chicken Run (2000).[6] At the time, Aardman encouraged everyone at the company to come up with ideas for features for the DreamWorks partnership.[6] In 2001, Fell, development executive Mike Cooper, and producer Peter Lord then developed the concept into a story before pitching it to DreamWorks.[6] The film was first announced in July 2002, and in what was then a surprise move, it was revealed as being Aardman's very first CGI feature project. Lord described the pitch as "The African Queen with the gender roles reversed".[6] After the film was announced, Comic writing duo Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais were contracted to write the script,[6] which had the working title Ratropolis. In 2003, David Bowers joined in to direct the film with Fell.[7]

Traditionally, Aardman had used stop-motion for their animated features, but it was complex to render water with this technique, and using real water could damage plasticine models. It would have also been expensive to composite CGI into shots that include water, of which there are many in the movie, so the company chose to make Flushed Away their first all-CGI production.[8] This is the third and final of three Aardman-produced films released by DreamWorks. Aardman's turbulent experience with DreamWorks during the making of this film and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit led to the split between the two studios.[9]


On Halloween (31 October) 2006, the Flushed Away: Music from the Motion Picture soundtrack was released by Astralwerks.[10]

1."Be Seeing You My Friend" 0:04
2."Dancing with Myself"Billy Idol4:49
3."Are You Gonna Be My Girl"Jet3:34
4."She's a Lady"Tom Jones2:54
5."Ice Cold Rita"Hugh Jackman & The Slugs0:44
6."Bohemian Like You"The Dandy Warhols3:32
7."Marcel / That's Not Rice You're Eating"Harry Gregson-Williams & The Slugs0:55
8."What's New Pussycat?"Tom Jones2:17
9."Yakety Sax"Boots Randolph2:01
10."Mr. Lonely"The Slugs0:27
11."Don't Worry, Be Happy (with The Slugs intro)"Bobby McFerrin4:22
12."Proud Mary"Tina Turner5:25
13."Wonderful Night"Fatboy Slim2:37
14."Life in the Sewer"Harry Gregson-Williams4:40
15."Beware...Beware"The Slugs0:35
Total length:36:16

Home media[edit]

Flushed Away was released on DVD on 20 February 2007. It includes behind the scenes, deleted info, Jammy Dodger videos and all-new slug songs.[11] It was released in the UK on 2 April 2007,[12] where it was also packaged with a plasticine 'Slug Farm' kit. The film was released on Blu-ray by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment on 4 June 2019.[13] As of October 2010, 4.9 million units were sold.

In July 2014, the film's distribution rights were purchased by DreamWorks Animation from Paramount Pictures and transferred to 20th Century Fox[14] before reverting to Universal Studios in 2018.


Critical response[edit]

Flushed Away has an approval rating of 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, and an average rating of 6.7/10, based on 139 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads "Clever and appealing for both children and adults, Flushed Away marks a successful entry into digitally animated features for Aardman Animations."[15] Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score to reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film a score of 74 out of 100 based on 28 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[16] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[17]

Todd McCarthy of Variety gave the film a negative review, saying "As directed by David Bowers and Sam Fell, first-time feature helmers with long-term Aardman affiliations, the film boasts undeniably smart and eye-catching qualities that are significantly diluted by the relentlessly frantic and overbearing behavior of most characters; someone is always loudly imposing himself upon another, to diminishing returns of enjoyment."[18] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B+, saying "Flushed Away lacks the action-contraption dottiness of a Wallace and Gromit adventure, but it hits its own sweet spot of demented delight."[19] James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film three out of four stars, saying "It's better than 90% of the animated fare of the last few years. It's refreshing not to have to qualify the movie's appeal by appending the words, 'for the kids'."[20] Jan Stuart of Newsday gave the film two out of four stars, saying "Despite the efforts of five writers and Aardman's trademark puppets, with their malleable eyebrows and cheeks bulging like those of a mumps sufferer, none of these characters are particularly endearing."[21] Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post gave the film a positive review, saying "Flushed Away, Aardman's first computer-generated cartoon, does away with the clay but leaves the craft and emotion intact, resulting in a film that earns its place among the Aardman classics."[22] Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle gave the film three out of four stars, saying "The short attention spans of directors David Bowers and Sam Fell are mostly forgivable because the movie is filled with so many entertaining characters."[23]

Richard Corliss of Time gave the film a negative review, saying "Deficient in the comedy of reticence discouragement that is Aardman's (or maybe just Nick Park's) unique strength. I don't want to say the Englishmen were corrupted, but I think they allowed their strongest, quirkiest instincts to be tethered."[24] Ted Fry of The Seattle Times gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "Fans of Wallace and Gromit may be puzzled by a visual disconnect in Flushed Away. They will certainly, however, be delighted by the unrelenting whimsy and fast-paced gags of a story that never slows down to think about where it's going next."[25] Ty Burr of The Boston Globe gave the film two and a half stars out of five, saying "Kids will probably be in stinky-sewage heaven with the new computer-animated critter comedy Flushed Away, but even they may realize they're up the proverbial creek in a boat with a faulty motor."[26] Jack Mathews of the New York Daily News gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "Though Flushed Away duplicates the stop-motion, clay animation look of Aardman's earlier Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit, it was made using computer software and its liberated action sequences are truly dazzling."[27]

Box office[edit]

Flushed Away collected $64.6 million in the United States, which was below the average of other CGI films from DreamWorks Animation, and $113.6 million from international markets for a worldwide total of $178.2 million, making it the 24th highest grossing film of 2006, and the sixth Highest-Grossing Animated film of 2006.[3] The film opened to number three in its first weekend, with $18,814,323, behind Borat and The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause.[28] Produced on a budget of $149 million,[3] poor box office reception resulted in a $109-million write-down for DreamWorks Animation,[29] and in turn a termination of the partnership with Aardman Animations.[30]

Video game[edit]

Coinciding with the film's release, a video game adaptation was released for the PlayStation 2, GameCube, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS. Although having heavily negative reviews from critics, the game received an Annie Award for best animated video game.[31]


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  17. ^ "CinemaScore". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 9 August 2019. Retrieved 2 December 2020. Each film's score can be accessed from the website's search bar.
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  19. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (1 November 2006). "Flushed Away". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 20 November 2015. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
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