Rugrats In Paris--The Movie

2000, Movie, G, 78 mins

Review

RUGRATS IN PARIS--THE MOVIE
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A rare sequel that's better than the original. This second movie based on the animated children's TV series moves its plot and its audience well enough to keep kids and parents alike amused. Though rarely laugh-out-loud funny, it cleverly mines the vein of humor in which outsiders and aliens innocently misinterpret native customs — in this case, those of adults. Freelance toy-maker Stu Pickles (voice of Jack Riley) and wife Didi (Melanie Chartoff) must go to Paris so Stu can fix the Godzilla-like animatronic giant he designed for EuroReptarland. Along for the ride are year-old Tommy Pickles (E.G. Daily) and his infant brother Dil (Tara Charendoff); their two-year-old, scaredy-cat cousin Chuckie (Christine Cavanaugh); their 15-month-old friends, twins Phil and Lil (Kath Soucie); their three-year-old Machiavellian nemesis, cousin Angelica (Cheryl Chase); and three sets of parents. Make that 2.5 sets: Chuckie's dad, Chas (Michael Bell), is a widower who'd like to remarry. In a comedy convention we'll call venerable, EuroReptarland's screaming-diva manager, Coco La Bouche (Susan Sarandon) needs a husband and a child before her Japanese CEO will promote her. With assistant Jean-Claude's (John Lithgow) help, child-hating Coco reaps a whirlwind courtship with Chas, while the kids have various theme-park misadventures. Despite its hackneyed premise, the plot has a few imaginative twists, and the pack of Japanese sumo-wrestler waiters who grunt out a karaoke version of "Bad Girls" are a riot. But goodhearted Chas's personality is made soooooo drippy-nosed and unappealing that he's repulsive, which turns his romance with Coco's lovely assistant Kira (Julia Kato) into an utterly strained male fantasy. And some of the kids' perils are questionable — not the clearly fantastic stuff like animatronic Reptar catching a falling Angelica, but imitable things like the kids climbing out of a theme-park ride onto the tracks. You might say, "It's only a movie," but how would you feel about a similarly lighthearted scene involving a Rugrat playing with a gun? leave a comment --Frank Lovece

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