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|Kevin Krock, editor|
I received the following email last week about the Rugrats in Paris: The Movie review, and it spurred a few thoughts:
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kids can easily understand and appreciate, and the adult layer usually consists of jokes based on cultural, social or historical references which children or kids have not experienced and probably donít understand.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:
Also, it was a test to sit and listen to lines like:
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:
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!
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