THE RUGRATS MOVIE
As fans of the series will know, Tommy's mother, Didi Pickles (Melanie
Chartoff), is pregnant with her second child. She and her husband Stu (Jack
Riley) have been preparing Tommy for the arrival of his little sister for
months. But when the baby is born early in the film, it turns out to be
a boy, and they name him Dillon, nicknamed "Dil." That's right,
folks: Dil Pickles.
While Dil (Tara Charendoff) is no surprise to the family, his constant
crying and need for attention is. So Tommy and his friends decide to return
Dil to the hospital from whence he came. But after a series of transportation-related
problems, the kids end up stranded in the woods. Far from home, they must
try to find their way back while taking care of the troublesome baby and
fending off the advances of some escaped circus monkeys who have a fondness
for Dil's strained bananas. Meanwhile, Stu, Didi, and the other parents
begin a frantic search to find the diapered waifs, bickering about whose
fault it was they disappeared, etc.
Not being a devotee of the Rugrats TV show, I was not overly thrilled
with the film, but I'm sure it will do well at the box office. It's nothing
much more than an episode of the TV show expanded to feature length, which
I found surprising and disappointing. When compared to this season's other
cartoon releases, like Antz and A Bug's Life, Rugrats seems quite ordinary.
But it has one thing those films don't have: an established following. There
is no doubt that kids all over America will flock into theaters to see their
favorite band of babies in their latest adventure. And now, with the addition
of Dil to the cast list, the next TV season is sure to be full of newborn-related
This film was directed by Igor Kovalyov and Norton Virgien, both of whom
have directed episodes of the series but are not its regular helmsmen. Their
job was surely not difficult; with all the machinery in place and the experienced
cast, it would have been like flying a 747 set on "auto pilot."
The writers, both new to Rugrats, are David Weiss (All Dogs Go
To Heaven) and J. David Stem (his debut effort). Weiss and Stem have
wisely remained true to the show's style, with lots of clever wordplay and
situations that just border on the absurd. The cast is good, but it's nothing
they haven't done a million times; the same goes for the animation, music,
and general production design.
Kids will love The Rugrats Movie, but unlike the other cartoons currently in theaters, its charm may be limited to devoted fans and the under 10 crowd. ***½
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