With its melange of poo-poo humor and pop-culture in-jokes, Nickelodeon’s Rugrats packs appeal for both kids and parents. Adult-friendly content was largely lost in the peewees’ first big-screen adventure, 1998’s too-frenetic The Rugrats Movie, but it’s been restored for the trés superior sequel, Rugrats in Paris — The Movie.
This becomes clear from the first scene, a dead-on parody of The Godfather in which the titular toddlers seek favors from the all-powerful 4-year-old Angelica (twins Phil and Lil are spooked by a hobbyhorse’s head in their crib). Soon, the ‘rats scurry off to France, where precociously neurotic Chuckie Finster must stop his widowed dad from marrying the child-loathing Coco La Bouche (fervently voiced by Susan Sarandon).
Unlike, say, Digimon: The Movie, the lavishly animated Rugrats in Paris doesn’t merely look like a blown-up, washed-out TV episode. The newfound emotional depth of the movie’s drawings — and its plotline — is most movingly illustrated when an airborne Chuckie sees images of himself with his late mother in the clouds.
Lest this sounds too high-minded for little ones, fear not: Poop, booger, and barf gags abound. Given the setting, you can’t blame the filmmakers for making comic use of the bidet (”A potty that squirts back!” exults Phil), not to mention the timeless taunt that begins ”I see London, I see France…” Oui? Oui. B+