Flushed Away - Rita (Kate Winslet)This is a CG animation by Aardman, which consequently has an actual story as well as some great lines, and plenty of toilet humour. <grin>

Roddy is a spoiled only-rat who lives as a pampered pet in a gilt cage (literally) in Kensington. When his family go away on holiday, an invading rat takes over the house and Roddy gets flushed down the toilet…

In the sewers, he discovers a rat city, complete with an evil toad supervillain. He meets resourceful, kick-ass rat pirate Rita (who has Kate Winslet’s voice), the only rat in the sewer who might be able to get him back home. She however has other concerns, as she has stolen a ruby from The Toad, needing the money to help support her parents, her uncountable siblings and assorted other family members – and the henchrats are in hot pursuit.

Feminist analysis: it was of course really great to see a strong, female lead. It was also nice that Rita and Roddy didn’t end up as boy- and girl-friend – it was hinted at the end that this might happen later, but there was mercifully no actual kissing, sighing, mooning, falling into each other’s arms or other annoying romantics.

You can hear the “but” coming, right?

Rita was certainly, as mentioned, resourceful and kick-ass, but she never actually saved or rescued Roddy. He was wimpy and clumsy and totally out of his depth, but he “saved himself” by clinging onto Rita, mainly against her will, and therefore imposing himself upon her rather than actually being rescued by her. He needed her, but he got her help by using or manipulating her, rather than having to wait for her to rescue him. On the other hand, Rita does find herself in need of rescuing and doesn’t have a lot of choice other than to wait for him to come to her aid – she is, of course, tied up by the Toad so she can’t escape. Roddy duly rescues her, in a heroic manly stunt that beats any of the grudging (or downright non-consensual) assistance that he ever weaselled out of her.

This may seem like nitpicking, but it bugged me that the way the female character helped the male character out was by being his chump; whereas the male character helped her in return by an act of dashing noble chivalry.

It also bugged me that at the end of the film Roddy had become Rita’s first (only) mate i.e. her assistant – yet as they shot away from the harbour together, it was her that asked him “Where are we going?” If she was really in charge, wouldn’t she already know that?

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