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A pet mouse called Roddy St. James (voiced by Hugh Jackman), after a mishap with a sewer rat ends up flushed down from his swank Kensington home into the underworld of vermin beneath London. Desperate to get home, he encounters Rita (voiced by Kate Winslet), who is on the run from a crime lord called The Toad (voiced by Ian McKellen).
Roddy and Rita have several misunderstandings, before he finally earns her forgiveness and trust, and she agrees to take him back to the surface. By the time Roddy returns to his comfortable but rather empty life, he has realized The Toad's true plan: to destroy the rodent underworld with a flood caused by all the humans above flushing their toilets during halftime of The World Cup Final. After foiling the Toad's plan, Roddy discovers that the life in the sewer, which had originally disgusted him, was far more fulfilling than the life he'd had above.
Provides examples of:
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Possibly justified, as they are rats.
- Also justified in that it's the London sewer, which, like the Paris sewer, is Absurdly Spacious in Real Life.
- Actor Allusion:
- Whitey, Voiced by Bill Nighy, has a button on his front in the shape of a V symbol that those familiar with the Underworld movies would recognize.
- Hugh Jackman's character briefly considers a Wolverine costume when picking what clothes to wear.
- Affably Evil: Le Frog. The only reason he seems to put up with the Toad at all is because they're cousins.
- All CGI Cartoon: Done so because integrating so much water into an otherwise stop-motion cartoon would have been a pain.
- Americans Are Cowboys: Features an obnoxious American tourist with a cowboy hat and Texas drawl.
- Amusing Injuries: Cryonics and Spike. Roddy, too.
- Bamboo Technology
- Banana Peel: Defied by Spike and Whitey...who play it straight with slugs immediately afterwards.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: That of the Toad.
- Break the Fake: Roddy smashes Rita's prized ruby to prove that it's fake.
- British Royal Guards: An American couple teases a guard in the sewer rat version of London.
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Lots of Take That to the French here.
LeFrog: Okay, men! To action!
- It should be noted that Le Frog's voice actor is Jean Reno, an actual Frenchman. The directors at Aardman felt that Le Frog would have been more of a cariacture and less of a character if he was voiced by an Englishman faking a French accent, so they sought out the services of Jean. He was more than happy to help.
- Chekhov's Gun: "Those floodgates won't hold forever!"
- Pretty much anything having to do with the World Cup Final.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Let's face it; watching Roddy get five groin attacks in a row is hilarious.
- Also occurs in-universe with Le Frog: "I find everyone's pain funny but my own...I'm French!"
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: The ninja frogs working for The Toad. Justified in that they're shown not to be as competent as they preach to be.
- Disaster Dominoes: When Toad is showing Roddy his collection. Toad is not pleased.
- Eagle Land: The loud tourists who confuse American Football with the other football.
- Evil Is Hammy: Toad. That is all.
- Executive Meddling: Slammed down on hard as a rock. After Chicken Run was completed, Aardman planned this as a pirate film. Dreamworks said that they weren't marketable...and then two Pirates of the Caribbean films were released mid-production. This is the reason why Aardman left Dreamworks.
- And then they finally made their own pirate movie.
- Fake Brit: Australian Hugh Jackman doing his best British accent.
- Fish Out of Water
- Fun with Flushing: This happens to Roddy.
- Genre Savvy
Spike: Careful, Whitey! That's a banana peel!
- Getting Crap Past the Radar
- Gilded Cage: Literally.
- Gilligan Cut
- Greek Chorus: The slugs. Their songs have some degree of relevance to whatever is currently happening in the story often enough that some of them could be considered narration. The "Bella Notte" parody is a good example.
- Groin Attack: Roddy has several unfortunate impacts to his nether regions upon arrival in the sewer, hitting his groin on pipes, hammers and other things.
- Gross-Out Show: Naturally, there's a significant bit of potty humor, given the fact that Roddy arrived from being flushed down the toilet, and most of the film's action takes place in a sewer.
- He Is Not My Boyfriend
- Hurricane of Puns
- I Choose to Stay
- Irony: In the voiceover commentary, the directors noted multiple times that there's something hilariously ironic about small characters having disproportionately low voices. Also, this bit:
- Lampshade Hanging: See Mood Motif, below.
- Large Ham: LeFrog. Also, Ian McKellen's ludicrously over-the-top performance is one of the best parts of the movie.
- Lonely Rich Kid: Roddy is a prime example.
- MacGuffin: The cable Rita steals from the Toad and subsequently wears as a belt. Also, the ruby the Toad stole from Rita that she steals back.
- Missing Mom: It's never explained how the Toad got so many children.
- Missing Trailer Scene: The pair of Roddy's hamster butlers seen in the original trailer are nowhere to be found in the actual film itself. Even more grating in that the butlers do appear in the video game adaptations of the movie.
- According to the Word of God, they were removed because they made no sense to the plot, and they wanted to stress the fact that Roddy is a loner; the song Dancing with Myself was added late in the production as well.
- Mistaken for...
- Mood Motif: spoofed, in an awesome and ridiculously cute fashion.
- Mouse World
- My Name Is Not Durwood: After mishearing Roddy's protest of "I'm just an innocent bystander!", many start referring to him as Millicent Bystander. Oh, and Rita's grandmother keeps calling him Tom Jones.
- Never Trust a Trailer: Roddy doesn't have hamster butlers in the movie.
- But he does, briefly, in the game.
- The trailer also give plenty of spotlight to Sid, making it look as if he's a main character. In the actual movie, Sid is a talking Plot Device.
- No Flow in Claymation: This movie (which was in production before Toy Story) was originally intended to be a traditional claymation movie like Chicken Run, but Aardman couldn't find a way to animate flowing water convincingly in claymation.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Hugh Jackman as Roddy. Only happens once.
- Parental Bonus
- Priceless Ming Vase: Roddy accidentally destroys Toad's entire collection of
cheap Buckingham Palace gift shop knick-knackspriceless royal family memorabilia.
- Race For Your Love
- Red Right Hand: Thimblenose Ted's thimble nose.
- Road Trip Romance
- Running Gag: The slugs punctuate several moments throughout the movie, musically and otherwise.
- Send Me Back
- Shout Out: Roddy and Toad are voiced by Hugh Jackman and Ian McKellen (who portrayed Wolverine and Magneto in the X-Men films, respectively).
- Slap Slap Kiss: Roddy and Rita
- Sorry I Left the BGM On: The slugs provide the Mood Motif of spooky music when Roddy first finds himself in the sewer and is freaked out. They stop when Roddy turns and realizes they're doing it.
- EVERY TIME music plays in this movie, it's either the slugs or a character doing it. They loved this joke.
- As the protagonists are sailing away, the ninja frogs pop up menacingly in the foreground of the shot, accompanied by a quick French accordion burst... then one of the frogs turns and continues playing the same accordion, much to the annoyance of the other frogs, who promptly slap him silly.
- Spaghetti Kiss: Between two slugs during the meal Roddy and Rita share, with a hilarious result!
- Surrounded by Idiots: The Toad's evil rants are pretty much built on this trope. Le Frog seems to feel this way about his ninja team and definitely feels this way about his cousin the Toad.
- Taking You with Me: Attempted by the Toad.
- Those Two Bad Guys: Spike & Whitey.
- Title Drop
- Tongue on the Flagpole: The evil Toad and his French cousin Le Frog get their tongues frozen onto a large pipe containing liquid nitrogen after Roddy smashes it apart to freeze the tidal wave Toad sent to drown the rats of Sewer-London. It's implied that the two amphibians were both arrested after they were unfrozen.
- Took a Level In Badass: Roddy, in spades.
- To the Bat Noun: "Enough games. To the ratmobile!"
- Tsundere: Rita. "Ah, the little English girl. So aggressive."
- What Could Have Been: Sid was originally going to be voiced by Ricky Gervais but he left at some point during pre-production.
- Wicked Cultured: The Toad, or at least he thinks he is.
- World of Ham: The sewer.
- Zombie Gait: Something is... off about Thimblenose Ted. Besides having a thimble for a nose, that is.