Cartoon candy, delightfully icky: Daddy and baby meet a new Mommy in a romance as mushy as chocolate left on a dashboard in summertime, melted in tart satire sticky from the mouths of babes — that’s Rugrats in Paris: The Movie.
Nerdy, bespectacled and carrot-topped dad and widower Chas Finster (voice by Michael Bell) and his chip-off-the-lovable-blockhead baby son Chuckie (voice by Christine Cavanaugh) are desperately seeking someone special, a fairy-tale princess like the protector of Chuckie’s favorite movie monster, the Godzilla-like Reptor, a monster that only a mommy could love. When father, son and the rest of the Rugrats gang tag along on an all-expense-paid trip to the EuroReptor theme park just outside Paris, the city of love, the Finsters soon believe their search has come to a happy ending.
Of course it hasn’t: Wicked EuroReptor boss lady Coco LaBouche (Susan Sarandon’s animated answer to Glenn Close’s Cruella De Vil) and her henchman Jean-Claude (voice by John Lithgow of TV’s “Third Rock from the Sun”) temporarily find a Rugrat accomplice in a little devil ironically named Angelica and the plot thickens like Jell-O instant pudding.
While the kindergarten set snickers at the jokes, the butt of which are ... well, butts, Mommy and Daddy might find a social satire under the “ripey diapies.” The Rugrats could be called the baby-in-laws of TV’s “The Simpsons” fostered by the same producer, Gabor Csupo. Both cut their teeth on the rotting apple of the American dream and poke fun at the worms in its core. But where Bart Simpson’s gang isn’t afraid of the dark, Chuckie’s bunch keeps things baby’s-breath light while subtly criticizing parenthood and global pop culture.
Rugrats in Paris introduces a new Asian Rugrat, Kimi Watanabe (voice by Tara Charendoff), to join African-American Rugrat Suzy in further coloring what would be a rainbow coalition of kids. So far, so politically correct, but in its buffet of French stereotypes, Rugrats fails to offer a single sympathetic character.
But is Rugrats in Paris fun? As one baby exclaimed in his best French as he wet his diaper, “Wee, wee!”
E-mail James Keith La Croix at [email protected].