School's out for summer! But this might be the last summer vacation ever ...
dir Chuck Sheetz
scr Jonathan Greenberg
voices Andy Lawrence, Pam Seagall, Rickey D'Shon Collins, Jason Davis, Courtland Mead, Ashley Johnson, Dabney Coleman, James Woods, Melissa Joan Hart, Robert Goulet, Peter MacNicol, April Winchell
release US 16.Feb.01; UK 27,Jul.01
Disney 01/US 1h24
Like the Rugrats movie, this is a TV series adapted to the big screen for little reason besides expanding the franchise. There's nothing particularly cinematic here, and therefore no real reason to see it in a cinema. That said, adults will enjoy it more than they expect. When summer starts, TJ (voiced by Lawrence) is disappointed to learn that all his friends (Seagall, Collins, Davis, Mead, Johnson) are going to summer camp. But his boredom is soon dispelled when he discovers that a sinister government official (Woods) is experimenting with a giant laser beam in the empty schoolhouse. So he must gather together his pals and, well, save the world.
OK, so the ludicrous plot is nothing terribly original; the characters are the usual assortment (The Breakfast Club has a lot to answer for!) and the teachers are the usual dunderheads (at least to begin with). And the animation isn't that wonderful either; the characters are rather flat and unimaginative, even if there are some nice backgrounds and very spiffy computer work. But the script is jammed full of sharp, smart wit and little gems of humour that keep the grown-ups laughing. The plot and situations gleefully play with every cliche imaginable, from the groovy '60s flashbacks to the soppy moral about how important it is to just be kids. And the star voices are nicely low-key--the big names are all in the supporting cast while the kids are played by real kids. But it's so slight and short that you wonder why it didn't go straight to video. Still, parents will enjoy this about a zillion times more than Pokemon. And maybe the sequel, like Rugrats 2, will get a bigger animation budget.