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Kevin Krock, editor
The MousePlanet Home Theater E-Mail - 4/23/01

I received the following email last week about the Rugrats in Paris: The Movie review, and it spurred a few thoughts:


Hello Kevin,

I hope I've got this right. I went to see Rugrats in Paris in the UK yesterday, as it is on general release here now. I should point out that I am a Disney nut of 20 years standing, both the company and the parks. Well, Iíve never seen the Rugrats before, but this didnít matter. What you have missed in your review is this is the biggest take off (is this an English expression? Copy?) of anything Disney I have ever seen!!

Where do I start? The Japanese translation of the boss of the theme parks name is 'little mouse'! Eurorapterland is a knock at Disneyland Paris with a vengeance. Firstly, the ride they go on is Small World if ever I saw it, from the song you never want to sing again to the characters, including the hippo from real SW. There is also a touch of Splash Mountain in a small drop and, by the way, the translation of the ride name is Splash!

Photo © Paramount Pictures
Photo © Paramount Pictures

Then "Who Let the Dog Out"! Well he went to Paris (Italy) where he met a pedigree poodle, they went into an ally behind a restaurant where they sat down and were fed leftovers by a chef who looked remarkably like the one in Lady and the Tramp. The final scene of that vignette has them sitting with their backs to the camera kissing over the pizza they were served stuck to their mouths - ring any bells!

The wedding scene of course takes place on Notre Dame with Chucky seeing gargoyles with faces.

Then again one night in the THEMED hotel he has a dream it seemed to have a dragon and fire, water and boats in it (Fantasmic!)

On top of this as well as references to the Godfather we add the King Kong scene with the audio animatronic with Angelica in the palm of their hand. And of course, Jurassic Park 2 with the machine stamping on cars through Paris.

There is more although itís more subtle. Of course most of this is going to be missed by the average cinema goers, but then most of them in the UK are not Disney nuts! Perhaps you should watch the DVD again. I wonder if there are animators and scriptwriters fired by Disney who now work for Paramount and Nickleodeon.

Jacqui


Photo © Paramount Pictures
Photo © Paramount Pictures

Thanks for taking the time to write Jacqui. In my review of the Rugrats DVD, I did generally mention that there were several satirical parallels between EuroReptarland and Disneyland Paris. For Disney fans, the biting and occasionally humorous jabs at Disney are not worth enduring the rest of the movie. There are many other animated movies, including Disneyís own, that poke fun at the Disney company and theme parks in a far more appealing fashion.

Many animated features usually have at least a couple of layers humor: one for the kids and one for the parents. Studios know that, simply based on kidís visual recognition of movie characters in TV commercials, they can pretty easily get the kids to bug their parents into taking them to see the movies. However, studios also know that parents arenít going to pay big bucks for a family evening at the local gigaplex if the movie isnít entertaining to the mature, money-wielding adults. Therefore, the kid layer usually contains simple visual and verbal jokes which kids can easily understand and appreciate, and the adult layer usually consists of jokes based on cultural, social or historical references which children or kids have not experienced and probably donít understand.

Letís take Toy Story 2 as a general example. For young kids, the film has bright colors, friendly looking characters, familiar looking environments, silly voices, and exaggerated character movements. For slightly older kids, the plot of the movie adds to the humor, as they can comprehend funny situations like the toys driving around the isles of Alís Toy Barn or Slinky Dogís barking scaring away a curious girl in the airport. Then, there are the amazingly abundant adult references strewn throughout the movie. The opening sequence alone is packed with them including the opening Star Trek-like title sequence, Buzz flying through the dried out and recolored Bugís Life river, Buzzís breathing sounding like Darth Vader from Star Wars, the Die Hard-like launching of Buzz into the air after the robots explode, and so forth. The action and characters bring in the kids, the subtle humor keeps the parents in the seats. The key to a family movie is that there must be a balance between these layers and they must be seamlessly blended.

Turning to Rugrats in Paris and the references that Jacqui mentioned, I think they were intended for the adult viewers, but the movie still fails to provide the critical balance. Throughout the movie, the focus of the humor ends up being on gross and lowbrow kidís jokes, which is the source of my annoyance. As an adult, I had to endure Rugrat actions like:

  • Angelica kicking the back of the airplane seat until the occupant vomits
  • Dil feeding Lil from the barf bag that he finds under an airplane seat
  • All of the kids playing in the hotel bidet
  • Numerous butt jokes involving diapers, green Ooey Gooey World residue, something stuck in Reptarís rear, etc.

Also, it was a test to sit and listen to lines like:

  • Dil saying, "Oh, thatís where I put my boogers!"
  • Angelica saying "Is poop the only thing you babies talk about?!" or calling the kids "Tinkle heads"

These are just a few examples of the things that made the appreciation of the Disney satire difficult.

As for Rugrats in Paris being "the biggest take off of anything Disney," Iíd have to disagree. Thereís a lot better Disney satire out there, and you donít have to put up with irksome and rude behavior for over an hour! I thought Iíd list a few other DVDs that you may find interesting:

Goofy Movie publicity art © Disney
Goofy Movie publicity art © Disney

  • A Goofy Movie Ė Goofy and Maxís trip to Possum Park has some wonderfully poignant episodes including a very funny take-off on Disneyís Country Bear Jamboree.
  • Toy Story 2 Ė During the toysí trip to Alís Toy Barn, they are joined by Tour Guide Barbie, and while driving them around the store aisles, she says to the toys in Spanish, "Permancer sentados, por favor" ("Remain seated, please"), which happens to be the recorded message heard by riders of Disneylandís Matterhorn mountain as they complete their journey.
  • Bob Clampettís Beany and Cecil: The Special Edition Ė The animated episode called "Beanyland" is an absolute jaw dropping and funny shredding of Disneyland. Made in the mid-1950s, Bob Clampett and Walt Disney were competing for similar audiences with their animated shorts, and Bob took the opportunity to use the medium to make a pretty strong statement about Waltís pet project in Anaheim. Walt himself expressed his displeasure with this episode when it first ran on the ABC network.

On top of those DVDs, one must not forget one of my favorite social commentaries, The Simpsons. While not really a childrenís show, many of the episodes have very funny references to not only the Disney company but they have also taken shots at the theme parks in episodes like "Itchy and Scratchy Land" and "Duff Gardens". Take a look here for a full list of the Disney references. Weíll have to wait until later this year to see The Simpsons make their way to DVD, but from what Iíve heard, itíll be worth the wait.

Finally, Jacqui mentioned that she wondered about ex-Disney animators working for Paramount and Nickelodeon. Iím pretty sure that there were at least a few folks that moved away from the Disney fold. As our own columnist The Wrist noted in a recent article, artists often move between studios on various projects.

That's it for now, but keep providing me feedback!

Photo © Paramount Pictures
Photo © Paramount Pictures

ALSO:

The original DVD review

The Official Film Web Site

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