'Rugrats Movie' adds little to the television cartoons Movie review

November 20, 1998|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

Parents, be prepared to have your kids' patience tested -- and, of course, your own.

At almost 90 minutes, "The -Rugrats Movie" is three times the length of those Nickelodeon cartoons your children never seem to tire of. Whether they're ready to sit in a dark room for that long is a decision only you'll be able to make.

You're also the ones who'll be forced to sit there alongside them, and be warned: The film is no more or less than the TV show writ large. Although some clever touches are clearly directed at adults -- at one point, a careening baby carriage wreaks havoc on a bucolic meadow scene featuring Bambi and Thumper -- much of the film's humor is quite likely to go under your head. Be prepared for lots of cute diaper yuks and such touches as a Busby Berkeley-style dancing-waters display formed by babies going wee-wee.

"The Rugrats Movie" introduces a new Rugrat to the world, a baby boy whom Mom and Dad Pickles opt to name Dylan (so he can be nicknamed Dil Pickles, of course). Like the other Rugrats, he lives in a self-centered universe, only more so: If Tommy, Chuckie, Philip, Lillian and especially that bossy Angelica thought the world revolved around them, wait until they get a load of the demands a newborn makes on the world.

Although his friends aren't quite sold on the idea, Tommy embraces his new role as big brother, especially after dad gives him a lecture about responsibility. But his loyalty is sorely tested when a series of misadventures leaves the whole Rugrats gang stranded in the middle of a dense forest.

The Rugrats' big-screen adventure offers some clever musical numbers, including one in which a roomful of infants crack wise about the perils of being a tiny baby in a big world. One of the film's adult treats comes at the end, as the credits reveal the diverse array of musicians who contributed to the film's soundtrack (including Elvis Costello, Lisa Loeb, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Lou Rawls and Jakob Dylan; there's even a Devo reunion track). And the visual style, drawn almost entirely from an infant's-eye view, gives the animation a unique feel.

Unless, of course, you've already overloaded on those 500 episodes of "Rugrats" that air on TV every week.

'The Rugrats Movie'

Starring the voices of E.G. Daily, Christine Cavanaugh and Cheryl Chase

Directed by Norton Virgien and Igor Kovalyov

Released by Paramount

Rated G

Running time 85 minutes

Sun score ** 1/2

Pub Date: 11/20/98

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