By Nickelodeon Movies/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock.
Folks, grab your pacifiers. On Monday, it was announced that Rugrats, the beloved 90s Nickelodeon cartoon about precocious babies, will get the reboot treatment in a new animated series. Finally, the kids of today will be reintroduced to the hijinks of Tommy and Chuckie and the domineering Angelica. But that’s not all! Apparently, Paramount is also planning another Rugrats movie. David Goodman (Family Guy) is set to write the film, which will hit theaters on Nov. 13, 2020. Original show creators Arlene Klasky, Gábor Csupó and Paul Germain will come back to executive produce the relaunched series.
All that sounds great! And fun! Except that the studio also announced that it’s going to be a live-action/C.G.I. hybrid movie. Which prompts us to ask just one quick question: what?
First of all, what exactly is going to be C.G.I., and what isn’t? Are the adults going to be live actors, while the babies are computer generated? Or will the entire cast be C.G.I. characters living in a live-action world, like Disney’s beautiful 2016 iteration of The Jungle Book? Furthermore . . . why? Much of Rugrats’s charm lies in its fuzzy 90s animation, as well as the distinctive features of each baby. Chuckie’s wild red hair! Angelica’s insane pigtails! We’re not saying technology isn’t capable of recreating this, and far be it for us to withhold the joys of Rugrats from today’s kids. But . . . it’s just that the last time a beloved 90s property was turned into a live-action C.G.I. movie, we got the hulking mess known as the Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Its lovable characters went from non-threatening actors in turtle suits (very 90s, very good) to creepily muscular C.G.I. juiceheads pushing the boundaries of anthropomorphism. It was too realistic! And not completely necessary! (This reporter acknowledges that the T.M.N.T. movie and its sequel went on to gross hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office, so, sure, some people liked it! But at what cost?)
And rendering an appealing non-human C.G.I. character is very different from rendering a non-creepy C.G.I. baby. Maybe the effects team behind Rugrats will figure out a way to make this thing a touch more Who Framed Roger Rabbit than nu-T.M.N.T. Here’s a quick teaser of what you can expect.
Just kidding: that’s a trailer for Baby Geniuses, the 1999 classic about babies who are, well, geniuses. It’s very bad! But also kind of good, and a prime example of the first thing we think of when we hear “live-action baby movie.” Godspeed, Rugrats.