Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tuesday animation: Rugrats in Paris: The Movie


Back to reviewing those lovely traditionally animated movies, and the one generated for today is unfortunately not a great one, but it has been chosen, so I must!

When I was a child, I adored the Nickelodeon show Rugrats.  I loved the characters, the weird stories, and the parallel stories of the adults alongside the babies.  It was genuinely funny to me, quirky and odd.  Over time, the show became more generic and sillier, going the way of SpongeBob, but for the first ten years or so (right around the time All Growed Up aired, I think), Rugrats was a brilliant show.  I admit that the art was kind of ugly, but besides that, I really liked it.  I had seen every episode multiple times and still today find times when it is appropriate to quote old episodes.

Needless to say, when the first Rugrats movie came out, I was excited, and when the second movie came out, I was even moreso.  The trailers promised the introduction of a new Rugrat and that Chuckie would (gasp) finally get a new mom!  I mean, come on, how much more awesome can it get for a Rugrats fan?!

Even as a kid when I first saw the second movie, I knew it was a little lacking, but I loved it anyway, perhaps due to the fact that it had been a fandom of mine since I was very small.  As an adult, I have a clearer understanding of just how good this film actually is.  Again, I still view it through a nostalgic lens, but I think I can give it a mostly fair review.

Overview: Rugrats in Paris: The Movie was released in 2000 and is the sequel to The Rugrats Movie, both of which are based on the Nickelodeon television series Rugrats.  The film received mostly favorable reviews.

Art: The art is based on the art of the original T.V. series, so it was already pretty limited in how good it could look.  It cannot be said that the character designs are attractive.  They are most certainly not.  Lumpy heads, strange body proportions, and an overall cartoony look, there wasn't much to build on.  That said, the art of this movie is significantly better than that of the T.V. series.  It's more fluid, it's brighter, it's more vivid, more colorful, and there's better shading and light rendering.  So, I can't say the art is bad necessarily because it had to match the source material.  A lot of effort obviously went into this film, and the designs do look sleeker and nicer, that is for sure.  Are there any scenes that are beautiful?  Not really.  There are a few nice scenes such as the clouds when they're in the plane going to France and some other backgrounds.  Anything really noteworthy?  No.  This movie is definitely not worth seeing for the visuals alone.

Nice background here.  Not beautiful, but nice and detailed.

I like the way the light through the blinds falls on them.
Sound: Excellent, high quality sound, as expected for modern times.  The music is great, lots of fun contemporary songs, some that were remixed specifically for the movie.  Songs appropriately add emotion or some other charm to a scene.  The voices are all excellent.  All voice actors from the show reprise their roles in the movie.  The standouts to me are E. G. Daily as Tommy Pickles, Cheryl Chase as Angelica Pickles, Susan Sarandon as the villain Coco LaBouche, and Cree Summer as Susie Carmichael.  Those four are excellent, great acting and tone.  The others are also great, voice and acting-wise.  I felt that all of the voices fit perfectly.  None made me cringe.

Story: The story is actually quite emotional, especially if one is familiar with the T.V. series.  During a trip to France, the babies help Chuckie find a new mother and defeat the antagonist who only wishes to marry Chuckie's father in an attempt to become president of a successful theme park.  The story has plenty of silly moments as per the original show, but it also has many tender ones, showing the insecurities of young children and also adults.  While the story makes more sense if one has seen the show, I think it could certainly be viewed as a stand-alone movie and would still make sense.  The characters are all very well-developed simply because they have been part of a long-running T.V. series.  Each character is lovable in his own way, even the bratty ones like Angelica.  Yes, the movie is about babies which means that the characters do ridiculous things and make silly baby jokes.  That is the charm of the movie, but it may not appeal to adults for that reason.  At least, not to adults who didn't grow up with the show.  I find that even as an adult, the humor still resonates with me.  I don't find it to be so childish that I don't enjoy it.

Personal appeal: I remember rating this movie very highly when I first saw it since I was a huge Rugrats fan.  I already loved all of the characters, and I loved Kimi and Chuckie getting a new mother.  I remember feeling so sad when he watched all of his friends dancing with their mothers, or when he was on the plane and was remembering his own mother.  Considering that Chuckie is only two, his mother obviously hasn't been gone for very long.  His father, Chas, seems to take it quite well for his son's sake, but it's obvious that he is hurting, too.  I was therefore quite happy to see them become a new family.  The movie is also full of the typical Rugrats adventures that the show is known for.  As an adult, I still like the movie a lot.  I don't think it's as great as I thought it was when I first saw it, but I am fond of it.  It is part of my childhood, and it made me FEEL.

Overall, I would give this movie three peridots.  It actually has a pretty good story full of emotion and adventure.  The music, though a little obnoxious at times, is fun.  The story is over the top and silly at times, often to the point where it is unbelievable, but that's how the show was as well.  Great characters and acting.  The art is good considering the source material, definitely an improvement on the original designs.  Not beautiful, but nice.  It's a great family film.  Really, it can be enjoyed by people of all ages.  Moreso children, of course, but there are many more adult-oriented bits that older viewers will appreciate as well.

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