in Paris – The Movie
I am new to the Rugrats phenomenon, but the charm of these little, animated critters is instantly obvious from this movie. The labours of two directors and five writers have not been in vain.
The Rugrats – a gang of very small kids – bring life down to its most basic, primal elements. Everything yucky (used food, bodily wastes, slimy substances) is fun and endlessly fascinating. They can find this fun absolutely anywhere, in the midst of any situation. But the world of adults is, in their eyes, strange and mostly incomprehensible.
It matters little that the Rugrats this time find themselves in Paris, thanks to a parent who has work there and decides to bring along his entire clan of friends and their families.
In fact, it is only the dog in this story who gets around the familiar French tourist sites. Everyone is else is a captive of the monolithic theme park EuroReptarland, a cheesy cross between Euro Disney and Jurassic Park, with a great deal of Japanese pop culture thrown in.
Adult viewers may pause to wonder why a film that, like a great deal of contemporary animation, seems to have been mainly manufactured in Asia should exploit such facile anti-East humour. But that's a minor hiccup, because audiences of all ages are likely to be won by the clever gags and situations of this movie.
A villain in the mould of Cruella De Vil propels the story: Coco La Bouche, given fruity voice by Susan Sarandon. Little Chuckie is understandably alarmed at the thought of getting this monster as a new mother. The Rugrats will literally have to move heaven and earth to put things right.
There are many memorable moments in this infectious film – such as a wonderful show-tune pastiche called "I Love You, Reptar" (a highlight of ex-Devo member Mark Mothersbaugh's witty score) and a parody of The Godfather (1972).
But my very favourite moment comes when the bossy Angelica is hurled into the air, and her companions exclaim: "Look up in the sky! It's a nerd! It's a pain!"
© Adrian Martin April 2001