Judge Dennis Prince remains perpetually wary of any content that might try to coerce him into joining his peers in the unforgiving world of adulthood. Never!
Tommy to Dil: "If I didn't know you better, I'd swear you grew up next to a power plant."
Those diapered wonders of Rugrats are a little older now, and a little wiser, it seems, but still have a lot to learn even though they're All Grown Up. In this latest DVD collection, All Grown Up!—Interview with a Campfire, those impetuous youngsters are working together and wrestling amongst themselves as they find their way into new adventures that offer plenty of growing lessons.
In the two-part feature story, "Interview with a Campfire," the kids and their parents are off for a week of fun and fright at the remote Camp Everwood. The camp supervisor, Chance, is also the musical director and playwright for the camp's upcoming play, "Westward, No!" But while Chance struggles to turn the no-talent campers into actors, singers, and dancers, Tommy Pickles is more interested in filming a horror video that will feature the legend of the early settlers who originally occupied the campgrounds and who mysteriously vanished without a trace; their spirits, of course, are said to still haunt the area around Pioneer Rock. So as bratty Angelica basks in the spotlight of Chance's no-chance production, Tommy, brother Dil, Chuckie, and others set off to unlock the mystery of the haunted hills around them.
In "River Rats," Mrs. Pickles relives her days as a river-raft guide when she decides to take the kids on a whitewater adventure. While the perpetually timid Chuckie hopes this excursion will help him experience—and survive—another of life's uncertainties, it's Tommy who's faced with the gut-check of braving the unwieldy rapids. And even though Chuckie expresses his reliance upon Tommy's usual solid resolve, it's Tommy who finds he's facing one of his greatest fears.
And, in "Bad Aptitude," the kids participate in career day but are left struggling with their projected career paths per their aptitude results. Tommy Pickles is in a particular…er…pickle when he dismisses a projected path as a businessman in deference for his proclaimed calling as an avant-garde film director. When his latest handi-cam feature, Gesundheit, flops at the Friday night premiere at the Java Lava coffee house, Tommy's confidence in his future becomes un-spooled.
While there's nothing offensive or unusually edgy about All Grown Up, there's really nothing very engaging about it either. It's fine for kids and maybe will actually entertain them, but, for me, I found myself passively sitting by, not completely bored but not much interested either. Perhaps when these characters were the Rugrats, they were a bit cuter, precocious little curtain climbers interacting candidly and clumsily in their own little world. Although Nickelodeon had hoped to extend the show for its growing-up audience, All Grown Up is inconsistent in delivery. In this particular collection, the episodes are rather tame despite the attempts of the writers to impart light humor and a bit of child-sized action. They won't ever challenge young minds nor border on offending moms and dads, so to that degree they come off as safe entertainment. And, arguably, that's probably best, as animated features that try to simultaneously titillate adults usually wind up introducing potentially undesirable content that young ones love to repeat at the most inopportune times (such as in front of Grandma and Grandpa or during Sunday school). So, if you're looking for some animated content that won't taint young minds, you're probably pretty safe here.
On this DVD, the episodes are presented in their original full-frame broadcast format. The image rendering is really quite impressive, with colors absolutely bouncing off the screen yet maintaining a controlled quality that keeps them from bleeding across the image. Some edge enhancement is visible but nothing near as distracting as what I've witnessed in other animated features. The audio is also pretty vibrant in the Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix. It's kind of silly that the disc attempts to boast the second and third episodes as "bonuses" when, in actuality, it would probably be pretty difficult to sell a disc with just a single 30-minute caper. That being said, the only real extra here is the DVD-ROM "Campfire Ghost Story Activity," which was mildly amusing to me (your results may vary). There's also the usual complement of trailers (Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Spongebob Squarepants Movie) plus Nickelodeon TV promo spots.
If you're over 12, you probably won't find too much to tickle you here. However, for the pre-teens in your household, this makes for 90 minutes of safe entertainment that doesn't require parental guidance.
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