If you're anything like me, you probably were not very interested in seeing Aardman/Dreamworks' new film, Flushed Away. I was told by a friend how amazing it was and decided to see for myself. I was extremely impressed by the film, which is 99% Aardman and 1% Dreamworks. The animation, the character design, the timing and comedy and writing - it's all top notch. I might even go as far as saying that it is the best animated film this year. (Even better than Cars, in my opinion.)
So why is Flushed Away doing so badly in theaters right now? So far it has only made about $40 million, a huge loss for Dreamworks in comparison to hits like Shrek and Madagascar. Well here begins my explanation of the problems with Flushed Away. First, watch the trailer below:
1. The trailer for Flushed Away is for a different film. What you see above is Roddy (the main rat guy) with two hamster servants - characters that were eventually cut at a very late time in production. They were a bad idea to begin with and to feature them throughout a whole trailer was an even worse idea. They also decided to show the ONE pop-culture joke in the film (the Finding Nemo one) - there are much stronger jokes in the movie than that.
2. They chose to show the most boring parts of the film in the trailer. The short amount of time Roddy spends in his human house is by far the least interesting, and features the most annoying secondary character, Sid. On a side note, they also showed the least visually interesting parts of the film. Inside the sewer-city is rich and detailed and beautifully designed - the indoor-house stuff barely looks like it's textured at all.
3. What is this film about? Not once did we see the evil toad character or get ANY sort of idea what the real story is about. All we see is a snotty mouse being flushed down a toilet. They didn't even show the french ninja frogs!
4. They made a movie about talking animals. As we all know, this was the year for movies about sarcastic little animals and their battles with humans encroaching on their land, etc. Over the Hedge (another Dreamworks film), The Wild, Ice Age 2, Barnyard, Ant Bully, Open Season (and I suppose we could include Madagascar and Chicken Little in there too). WE GET IT. ANIMALS ARE CUTE AND FUNNY. Let's try something original for a change. Flushed Away is thankfully different from all those other films - it is not sarcastic or crude; it is slapstick at its best with the same sort of humor you find in the Wallace and Gromit films, but a little more appealing to Americans I think.
5. Overall nasty marketing. Whoever turned this goldmine into a dud should be fired. The trailer I posted above is an early one, which shows you the trouble they had with the script. (I heard there were over 100 versions of it at one point - perhaps that's why it cost $149 million? Either that or it was made on golden computers.) I say "nasty" marketing because many of the recent ads I've seen feel like dirty political ads. They have comments on them that say things like "Funnier than CARS!" or "Better than ICE AGE!" Seriously, people. Do you need to put down other films to make yours appealing? Those films aren't even in theaters now! It's not like they are competing with each other. Just show why your film is good instead of claiming its "better than other things".
So why should you go see Flushed Away? Because it's hilarious and a good time for everyone. I was probably cracking up more than the kids in the movie theater...but that's nothing new.
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