By David Browne
Updated January 08, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

Could there be an easier gig than soundtrack compiler? From The Waterboy to You’ve Got Mail, most film-music discs have been reduced to oldies collections that were probably a cinch to assemble, not to mention fun — imagine playing DJ for millions. Yet the formula has grown stale faster than you can say ”closing-credit power ballad.” Thankfully, a few renegade soundtrack producers are shooting higher, commissioning new, untested material and performances and aiming for anthologies that are more than just K-tel compilations for the DVD era.

Boomer parents who saw the original Psycho may no longer be spooked by the thought of taking a shower, but they’ve encountered something far scarier in their adult lives: their children’s love of rap! The disposable but intermittently charming companion to The Rugrats Movie isn’t likely to calm any of their anxieties. It kicks off with ”Take Me There,” a cute, singsongy slice of kid-hop featuring BLACKstreet and Ma$$e rapping about Chucky, Tommy, and their pals. Cuts by Busta Rhymes, Kevi of 1000 Clowns, and Rakim and Danny Saber are denser and slightly more adult, but the message is clear: As much as classic rock-rooted grown-ups may cringe, the rhymes and beats of hip-hop are truly child-friendly.

Apparently recognizing that the parents of today’s tots were pogoing two decades ago, the Rugrats soundtrack also makes concessions to Mom and Dad’s tastes. Elvis Costello contributes a new song, ”I Throw My Toys Around” (a duet with No Doubt), a subject that speaks to kids and grown-ups alike; for the occasion, Costello returns to beautifully uptight Attractions mode. Graying new wavers may also be soothed by contributions from Devo and, in the cuddly sing-along ”This World Is Something New to Me,” Patti Smith, the B-52’s, Laurie Anderson, and Iggy Pop. In a compromise of sorts, Cheryl Chase (in the voice of Angelica) does a toddler-designed remake of Blondie’s ”One Way or Another.” Kids will chuckle; their parents, realizing the passage of time, may be even more depressed than when the Ramones disbanded. B-

The Waterboy

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • Frank Coraci