Watching this reminded me how much I really like Aardman's designs. Yeah, they've all got that same wide-mouth, wide-eyed expressions from way back in the early Wallace and Gromit days, but it just works for me. And they do great, detailed work on the environment, too - here, forming an environment from all the bits of stuff that end up down the sewer. The construction of the boat alone here was enough to make me smile. I think I end up liking Aardman's production work even moreso than Pixar's.
But Pixar shines in the story-telling, as they usually go for themes and scopes that just aren't in the Aardman playbook. Not to say they're bad, just that Aardman seems to be interested in sticking to good stories, rather than the big, universal-type themes you get in the Pixar films. Flushed Away, unfortunately, is even more light on story than previous Aardman efforts (Chicken Run, The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave, primarily). It's a standard pampered-boy-meets-girl-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks tale, where the boy learns it's not all bad on the other side, mixed with just a bit of boy-saves-the-day. But it's a bit lightweight compared to, say, The Wrong Trousers; there's nothing at the end of this movie to compare really to Gromit's train-track adventures. And while the singing slugs were a cute touch the first time, they became a little tiresome the twentieth time they showed up to grace us with a tune.
But don't think I'm slamming this movie too much - even a lesser Aardman movie is better than most other animated fare. It just doesn't quite reach the heights I'd like to see. Three stars, and I've still got Curse of the Were-Rabbit sitting on my shelf for sometime in the future.