As millennials and gen z enter adulthood having children of their own, they noticed today’s children programming doesn’t have the magic or spark the cartoons they grew up with. The CGI anthropomorphic rescue puppies, the little kids who turn into superheroes reminiscent of Power Rangers, don’t cut it, so what can you do?
Nickelodeon has the brilliant idea to bring back your favorite cartoons like Hey Arnold on the silver screen. Nickelodeon tested the waters with the 1994 classic, Rugrats. Rugrats is about neglectful parents leaving their miscreant infants and toddlers unattended in the backyard or exploring the city.
When I was a kid, each time Rugrats was on; I’m plastered to the television, watching those trouble makers cause chaos. I recall going to my grandparent’s house early in the morning, right before I went to school, and I’ll watch Nickelodeon. Rugrats was on the early morning schedule, so I’ll go to my grandparent’s massive couch watching Tommy Pickles have adventures with his pals.
Rugrats 2021 brings back the original creators, Arlene Klasky, Gabor Csupo, and Paul Germain of Klasky Csupo, to bring the 3D Rugrats to life. The whole gang returns in this new venture: brave one-year-old Tommy Pickles, the adventurous twins Phil and Lil Deville, terrified Chucky Finster, Susy Carmichael, and the pain in the neck Angelica Pickles. Their parents and family members return too. With grandpa, Lou Pickles “pops” getting a significant overhaul. He’s no longer the grumpy older man who sleeps all day; he’s the loveable hippy with a tie-dye sweater, cargo pants, fanny pack, and ponytail to know he’s serious. Other characters such as Dill Pickles or Kimmy didn’t return, but I’m sure we’ll see them in later seasons.
Klasky Csupo’s bulging and crude animation doesn’t suit well for 3D; the characters look uncanny. Chucky Finster is the worst offender. His large round face with enormous purple glasses and a lump of messy red hair does no one any favors.
If I was a kid witnessing Rugrats 2021, I’ll run out of the room screaming, hoping someone would hold me shouting, “Please, don’t let them get me, please! No, I don’t want to go on an adventure!”
Besides the animation, the show is vibrant; it’s enough color to glue the tots to the screen. I’m sure my cousin’s 2-year-old daughter would enjoy Rugrats 2021, so we can drool together. For the show being terrifying, the animation team designed the characters well with smooth textures and kept the 2D cartoon aesthetic as not to drift completely into uncharted territory.
The writing and stories aren’t bad either; the reboot is to par with the brilliant episodes of the 90s Rugrats. For example, in episode 2, when the Pickles get a new puppy, and the babies assume Tommy’s parents would want to keep the new puppy and replace their current dog, Spike. So, the babies create mischief to blame on the puppy. In the end, the babies got want they wanted.
Overall, Rugrats 2021 is an uncanny CGI nightmare waiting to fuel a new generation of horror stories. The show makes up for its frightening animation with vibrant, eye-popping landscapes and enjoyable narratives. Rugrats 2021 is available on the new streaming platform, Paramount+. Enjoy a retelling of a 90s classic.