There was some controversy when Flushed Away opened where the publicity department tried to capitalize on the Aardman name and give the impression that the film had been made in the same Claymation process that all Aardmans other films had. This is not the case Flushed Away is a CGI animated cartoon where the closest it comes to the Aardman Claymation process is that the computer-animated characters have modelled on the look of the familiar Wallace and Gromit characters. (Aardman were purportedly once considering shooting Flushed Away in Claymation but the animation of the water would have necessitated far too much work). This unfortunately does seem to be the problem with Flushed Away. 2006 was a year that was stocked to the gills with a glut of animated talking animals films The Ant Bully (2006), Barnyard (2006), Happy Feet (2006), Ice Age 2 (2006), Open Season (2006), Over the Hedge (2006) and The Wild (2006). Flushed Aways problem is that it is not an Aardman Claymation film, it is yet another animated talking animals film entering into a market that was filled to saturation point with identical and indistinguishably similar product.
Even amid this glut of talking animals films, some of these managed to standout with considerable charms particularly Happy Feet. Alas, Flushed Away does not do enough to stand above the crowd, which is doubly a disappointment coming from Aardman whose other Claymation animated talking animals films are some of the most charming in recent memory. The story has a familiar character arc one that Disney used a number of times from Lady and the Tramp (1955) through The Aristo Cats (1970) and Oliver & Company (1988) of the pampered domesticated upper-class pet being abruptly thrust into the wild side of life on the streets (or sewers as here) and discovering an urchin liveliness that they never knew before. Most of the characters are animation standards the snooty hero who must learn humility, the plucky and matter-of-fact tomboy heroine, the villain and his dim-witted sidekicks. A number of scenes end up being stolen by a chorus of slugs. Flushed Away moves in a lively way and one cannot complain that the film does not maintain a level of energy and chirpiness.
While many of the familiar Aardman charms are missing from Flushed Away, the most likeable parts are those that do approximate the Aardman style. The film comes with the sly visual puns common to Aardman films. The Toad swallows a fly, it manages to escape while attached to his tongue and cry Help, hes a madman, only to be swallowed again with The Toad complaining Excuse me my flys undone. The Toad commands his thugs to take Roddy and Rita away Ice them whereupon they are dragged away to a giant refrigerator and told Time to meet your maker your ice-maker. Ritas boat has a red switch that holds a warning Danger: Red Button, which naturally is opened to reveal a red clothing button sewn there. A great deal of fun is also to be had in watching the background of the sewer world where everything has been scavenged from surface junk, leading to an amusingly patchwork culture using the unlikeliest of items.
Co-director Sam Fell next went onto co-direct The Tale of Despereaux (2008) and the stop-motion animated ParaNorman (2012), while David Bowers went onto the cinematic remake of Astro Boy (2009), followed by the live-action sequels Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (2011), Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (2012) and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (2017).