With Flushed Away, the understated drollness that defines Aardman Studios’ finest efforts (Chicken Run, Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit) takes a back seat to the scatological hyperactivity that typifies the work of co-producer DreamWorks Animation. That the two outfits are strange bedfellows has been apparent since the outset of their union, and yet there’s nonetheless something depressing about watching anthropomorphic CG rats designed in the style of Aardman’s prior claymation protagonists behave like rejects from Shrek, making flip pop culture allusions and boasting hipper-than-thou attitudes that fail to cover up their inherent featurelessness. The story of a pet rat named Roddy (Hugh Jackman) who learns the value of family and friendship after he’s unceremoniously flushed down the toilet to a sewer city of fellow vermin – and then finds himself in the middle of an adventure with plucky Rita (Kate Winslet) – Flushed Away is bursting with visual gags and colorful characters but very little heart, its state of perpetual motion preventing any measure of honest-to-goodness emotional attachment. The animation is sharp, the one-liners are occasionally witty, and the voicework is uniformly solid, with special kudos going to Ian McKellen as the deranged Toad intent on bringing about a rat holocaust. But like a mouse on a spinning wheel, it’s a film that moves at a breakneck pace but ultimately goes nowhere.