Film Scouts Reviews

"The Rugrats Movie"

by Karen Jaehne

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A quick glance at the voices above tells you this is one fun carousel ride. Add to that the songs by Divo maestro Mark Mothersbaugh, who decided the songs deserved the singing talents of pals like Elvis Costello (I'll Throw My Toys Around), Kevi of 1000 Clowns & Lisa Stone (Wild Ride), Laurie Anderson, Iggy Pop, Lisa Loeb, Lenny Kravitz, Cindy Wilson and Patti Smith singing newborns in a maternity ward - it's a wonderfully goofy adventure.

For those in the know, Rugrats is numero uno in the world of kid-vid, as charming as the muppets and with an additional layer of reality, namely parents who are ridiculously devoted to being parents. They are so parental, they often overlook what shenanigans their little rugrats are up to. In this movie, the rugrats first get a new baby, Dill - short for Dylan.

A gimlet eyed realism lurks behind this baby, who bawls night and day. The Pickles parents are helpless and worn, and it takes Tommy to keep the other rugrats from taking baby Dill back to the hospital for a refund. The trip to the hospital gets them lost in the woods, prompting an all-out search that gets a Whoopi Goldberg forest ranger involved, among other wonderfully goofy bits. There are fearsome wolves who are effectively drawn to give kids the slick thrill of danger, as the big and very bad wolf's teeth loom large on the screen. That's scary.

The writers are good at picking up the kind of cute things kids say, along the lines of Tommy Pickles understanding his father to be giving him a "sponsatility" when his exhausted father turns over a watch fob to the child in gratitude that Tommy looks out for his annoying little brother. Thus, Tommy consults his sponsatility, like a compass, to guide his fellow rugrats through the woods, which keeps them wandering in circles. And in the parallel universe of the grown-ups, people also wander in circles until, almost by accident, their paths cross.

The music provided by Mark Mothersbaugh of Divo reinforces the story with rock'n'roll all the way. It's great to see children treated with good, driving rock. When filmmakers take the music seriously, then they're hip to the fact that you're never too young to be getting a good rock education; it may prevent some of that awful canned adolescent junk that packagers try to fob off them at a slightly older stage. The musical numbers also provide hilarious in-jokes for the parents, so there's something for everybody.

This is one that I'd like in my video library - to lull the little monsters when they get rowdy, even to put myself into a chirpy frame of mind. And inner babysitter for your inner child!

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