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Time Out says

Aside from a handful of low-key Japanese animations, when was the last time you saw a traditional cel-animated movie? No, I can’t remember either. So unstoppable is the onward march of digital that it has even enticed that most traditional of animators, Aardman, the Bristol-based studio renowned for its instantly recognisable stop-motion animations (‘Wallace & Gromit’, ‘Creature Comforts’, etc). It’s a painstaking, time-intensive technique, but the final product has an appealingly organic, homely quality to it. The studio’s latest film, though, eschews soft Plasticine models in favour of recreating its distinctive animation style with computers. Maybe it’s just as well that they (and mother studio DreamWorks) chose the easier CGI option, because the resulting film is disappointingly below par.

Suave pet rodent Roddy St James (voiced by Hugh Jackman) lives a luxurious lifestyle in his Kensington home. But when an obnoxious sewer rat emerges out of a water pipe, Roddy – in ‘Prince and the Pauper’ fashion – is maliciously dispensed to the sewers below. There he meets feisty punk-rat Rita (Kate Winslet), and together they unravel a dastardly plot by Ian McKellen’s nefarious Toad.

It’s a kids’ rat movie, so you’d expect some artistic licence to have been taken with the characters. However, in the same way Aardman quirkified its ‘Chicken Run’ cast by giving them teeth, here its protagonists get human torsos and moppish hairstyles. Cute characters they ain’t. No question, the animation is crisp, rounded and model-like, but the pacing’s lethargic, the jokes – many of them movie-orientated and, for a world market, perhaps too British – are variable, the action sequences mostly uninspired and the characterisations and voice-overs underwhelming.
Written by Derek Adams

Release Details

  • Rated:U
  • Release date:Friday 1 December 2006
  • Duration:84 mins

Cast and crew

  • Director:David Bowers, Sam Fell
  • Screenwriter:Peter Lord, Christopher Lloyd, Ian La Frenais, Sam Fell, Dick Clement
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