15 years ago today (ScratStitch feels old, do you?), Aardman Animation’s Flushed Away opened in theaters. It opened against Disney’s Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, but in a rare box office moment that no one predicted, the weekend was won by the sleeper hit Borat: ScratStitch Isn’t Bothering To Type Full Title Movie For Golden Globes.
Still, as amusing as Borat was (it still, alas, springs to mind almost every time I hear the national anthem), Flushed Away was just as funny if not funnier, and is an overlooked comedy gem. The plot…well, it sounds dumb when you tell people about it, but it’s about a pampered pet rat who gets flushed down his own toilet thanks to an unwelcome guest. The rat is voiced by Hugh Jackman. Hugh Jackman Rat meets Kate Winslet Rat in a bustling Rat City, where he makes the mistake of pissing off Ian McKellen Toad. Ian McKellen Toad had his heart broken by Prince Charles (where’s HIS Broadway musical???), and now he wants to kill all rats, which is bad news for Kate Rat and Hugh Rat.
Again, it all SOUNDS dumb, but if you haven’t watched it, trust me when I say that’s delightful as all fuck. The jokes come so fast they can’t all be caught in a single viewing. There are gloriously bad puns. There’s British toilet humor, which is the best kind of toilet humor. And Ian McKellen is hilarious as Ian McKellen Toad.
To provide an example of the film’s type of humor…
*A fly, attached to Ian Toad’s tongue, springs out of his mouth* “He’s a madman! Run away! Run away!”
IAN TOAD: *retracts tongue and chomps the fly* “Pardon me. My fly is undone.”
Despite the competition, Flushed Away did decent business for two weeks…and then a little movie called Happy Feet came along, and 2006 made that dancing penguin opus fucking huge (it even beat Casino Royale. CASINO ROYALE, people!!!). Sadly this flushed away the box office for Hugh Jackman Rat and his friends, and the film was ultimately viewed as a bomb, ending the distribution contract between Aardman and DreamWorks Animation. To add insult to injury, it was even denied a nomination for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars that year. Thanks, Cars! (This is not a shot at Cars; I take no shame in admitting I enjoy that movie).
Happy posting! And if you haven’t already, go watch Flushed Away. It’s awesome. It’s also loaded with Easter Eggs like this…