In this live action adaptation, the Talking Animal characters are depicted as mostly human but with a few indicative animal features: for instance, Toad has green skin, while Rat has a long nose and prominent whiskers.
The novel's episodic structure is streamlined into a more linear plot driven by a Community-Threatening Construction masterminded by the Weasels.
This film contains examples of:
- Chekhov's Gun: Toad's tongue. At first it's just an amusing Furry Reminder (he uses it to eat a dragonfly); later he uses it to help him escape over a high prison wall.
- Community-Threatening Construction: The weasels tear up the field where Mole lives in order to build a dog-food factory, and their grand plan is to dynamite the ancestral stately home Toad Hall and replace it with an abattoir. Their plan is foiled by Rat switching the dynamite with a shipment of bones destined for the factory, resulting in the weasels accidentally blowing up the factory.
- Crisis Makes Perfect: Mole's catchphrase is "But I can't throw for toffee!" But near the end he manages to literally throw a spanner into the works of the Weasels' dogfood machine.
- The Face of the Sun: The Sun has a face, and occasionally offers Toad advice which he proceeds to ignore.
- Freaky Electronic Music: The music accompanying the Weasels' Villain Song.
- Impoverished Patrician: Toad finances his enthusiasms by getting loans from the Weasels.
- Master of Illusion: The Weasels, at least in their villain song.Weasels: Are we real? Perhaps we aren't!
- Mr. Exposition: St John Weasel.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Weasels are increasingly imbued with Nazi characteristics towards the end of the movie. Their Chief's facial hair is clearly styled to resemble Hitler, they are vaguely dressed as orange versions of Nazi stormtroopers, they have a banner and armbands that resemble the real-life Nazi flag and swastika armbands respectively, and their ultimate plan is to blow up Toad Hall and replace it with a slaughterhouse that would clearly serve as a death camp for Riverbank creatures.
- Phrase Catcher: "I say! Badger!"
- Self-Disposing Villain:
- The Weasels begin double-crossing each other just as the heroes arrive and enter the fray. The villains do such a good job beating each other up, the heroes decide to spend the fight singing instead.
- The Chief Weasel also blows himself up, but only because Rat switched the labels on their explosives earlier in the film.
- Took a Level in Badass: The film is cheesy for the most part, until the weasels start singing.
- Villain Song: The Weasels get an awesome one.