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"They used to shoot her through gauze. You should shoot me through linoleum. "  -Tallulah Bankhead on Shirly Temple
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Friday May 22, 2020 

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Widower inventor, Chas Finster (voiced by Michael Bell), has been summoned to Euro-Reptarland, a Parisian dinosaur theme-park, for maintenance on his full-scale mechanised-dinosaur attraction. Forlorn Finster has found himself deep in lonely land since the loss of his wife. A predicament he shares, along with flaming red hair, with his young son, Chuckie (Christine Cavanaugh). Chuckie yearns for the ideal, loving mother, but she's not to be found in the form of Reptarland manager, Coco La Bouche (Susan Sarandon), who has designs on Chas's heart for her own Machiavellian motives. It's up to Chuckie and his friends to spoil the plans of La Bouche and her arch flunky, Jean-Claude (John Lithgow).

"The cartoon shows made by the Nickelodeon company are filled with adult jokes and pop culture references, and they're watchable in a sort of deadening way. It's not like The Simpsons, which is enjoyable for viewers of any age: most of the adult winks in Nickelodeon products (like the skit on The Godfather that opens Rugrats In Paris) are meaningless for young children but too obvious to be much fun for anyone else. Occasionally the references are layered enough to become witty: American know-how, European high culture and Japanese sci-fi are all fused in EuroReptarland's biggest attraction, an animatronic opera that ends in a full-throttle aria sung by a princess to a Godzilla-sized dinosaur. The numerous movie parodies also expand the film's stylistic range, letting the middling but sometimes inventive animation go beyond TV norms to emulate 'cinematic' lighting and camera movement. But visually the film is constrained by the ugliness of the Rugrats characters - deformed gargoyles designed in phony mimicry of a child's drawing, with freakish hairstyles and knobbly potato heads. Ultimately the problem with Hollywood animated features is that (almost inevitably, given their drawn-out production process) they represent filmmaking by committee. The jokes, the plot twists, the character traits and the moral messages in Rugrats In Paris all feel overchewed, discussed and determined well in advance. Even the stream of pee, poo and vomit jokes has an obligatory quality, as if the producers had hired an early-childhood specialist to tell them that kids are obsessed with bodily fluids. Fans of the TV show will probably have a good time, but I wish the whole thing didn't have to be so knowing. Shouldn't a film about the perverse anarchy of early childhood be riskier and weirder, more committed to genuine imaginative freedom?"
Jake Wilson

"The opening sequence of Rugrats big-screen version deux, contains a Godfather parody. An early offering for the grown-ups. Or is it? I hadn't even heard of Humphrey Bogart, when in more innocent days I was delighted by the antics of Kermit the Frog doing his best Marlowe/Spade. The very young mightn't "get" every reference, their older escorts mightn't be as au fait with the nuances of the characters, but everyone should get a giggle throughout. A Giggle, though not necessarily a total gurgle of delight. These Rugrats may find themselves in the City Of Light but they fail to find that je ne sais quas that illuminates Animations de Triomphe. They do, however, find plenty of opportunity for the precocious mischief and affinity with gooey substances that are the preserve of those who cannot yet walk or talk. Which brings me to Rugrats' strength: it's idiosyncratic constructions. These babies do communicate, but only with each other. Much like an animal fable. And they're more richly drawn than the sketchy adult caricatures. Both visually and figuratively. From their knobbly pumpkin heads to their faux adult-world catchphrases these diaper-clad protagonists are infused with personality. I can almost envisage David Attenborough expounding the social hierarchy dependent upon a few months seniority, a few more strands of hair. Of the adult characters, Susan Sarandon's villainous voicing of Coco La Bouche does create a femme fatale on par with Glenn Close's Cruella De Vil. An all too predictable plot is the major compromise, but at least gallops it along . . . albeit with heroes that crawl. A more original narrative and this might truly have rocked the cradle. Fundamentally, a lot like a TV instalment, only bigger, longer, more extravagant. Fine attributes for an animated kidpic really."
Brad Green

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VOICES: Christine Cavanaugh, Elizabeth Daily, Cheryl Chase, Kath Soucie

DIRECTOR: Stig Bergqvist, Paul Demeyer

PRODUCER: Gabor Csupo, Arlene Klasky

SCRIPT: David N. Weiss, J. David Stem, Jill Gorey, Barbara Herndon, Kate Boutilier

EDITOR: John Bryant


MUSIC: Mark Mothersbaugh

RUNNING TIME: 78 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Melbourne April 5; Other states April 12, 2001

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