Directed by: Stig Bergqvist & Paul Demeyer
Written by: J. David Stem, David N. Weiss, Jill Gorey, Barbara Herndon, Kate Boutilier
Starring: Christine Cavanaugh, E.G. Daily, Tara Strong, Cheryl Chase
Parents undoubtedly serve as an integral part of a child’s life which we can acknowledge as adults. Rugrats in Paris, like the entirety of the show, display what it means from the eyes of a literal baby and operates as the main emotional touchstone of this narrative. Throw in an inexplicable trip to Paris and you have yourself a movie.
Unhappy from not having a mommy, Chuckie (Christine Cavanaugh) wishes he could someday have one as he sees his friends so happy when dancing with their maternal figure. When Tommy’s (E.G. Daily) father must go to Paris to help repair an amusement attraction, the whole crew heads out to the French city with Chuckie holding out hope his wish will be fulfilled.
Of the many things that could be said about Rugrats in Paris, the one thing staying in my mind since watching it is: This movie has a lot going on. Typically I would not seek out a Rugrats film but this feature holds a special place in my heart because of it being one of the first VHS tapes I ever owned; well my parents bought it for us. I still remember its orange color and the number of times we rewound and played the movie, which made revisiting this feature as an adult quite the experience. Still utilizing these lovable characters, this film allows for some timeless comedy and some questionable ideas of how it could formulate a plot.
One of the absurdist elements comes from the intention of the central villain of the movie, Coco LaBouche voiced by Susan Sarandon. She works near the top of EuroReptarland and hopes to become its president once the incumbent retires. However, the current president states he could only entrust the future of the company in the hands of someone who truly loves kids and Coco certainly would not fall into that category being a childless single woman. It then becomes her whole journey to marry someone with a kid to prove herself worthy of a promotion, which has her cross paths with Chuckie’s wish for a mother. It’s mind-boggling to think of this as a motivation for a villain in a movie, but it definitely tracks the outrageous expectations put on women if they want to succeed in the business world as opposed to their male counterparts. She needs to go through all these domestication hoops in order to get a role she achieved through merit and it got to the point where I was starting to root for her hilariously. Certainly one of those villains where their ideology contains some truth but the way they go about it raises concerns.
Another questionable aspect of the film appears in its location. Most of the feature takes place in Paris but in a Japanese-themed amusement park. If not for the accent of some of the French characters, you could honestly not tell everything in the feature takes place in the European city. It raises questions as to why this story could not simply take place in Japan but I guess those monuments don’t have the same notoriety as the Parisian ones utilized when things go absolutely haywire later in the film. Astounding to say the least.
However, all of the wackiness this feature has to offer comes as part of its charm and what makes these babies so special and their show so popular. They all have their recognizable moments making for something anyone who loved the show would enjoy as well as anyone who just happens to turn this on for some reason. The main staying power will always be the emotional throughline of Chuckie wanting a mother. Opening the film at a wedding where all of the babies get a mother-child dance, Chuckie sits there longing to have one of his own breaks the heart. Before all of the madness ensuing later in the feature, this film runs the risk of making you cry right from the very beginning. Chuckie deserves the world and the journey he goes on to find his mother certainly deserved its own movie and it all worked well for him.
Incredibly sweet and bringing all of the comedy anyone would expect from these characters, Rugrats in Paris has plenty to entertain anyone even those unfamiliar with the loveliness of these characters. Certainly has some questionable elements but it brings plenty of fun for all to enjoy and definitely holds up many years after its release.