Paramount+’s Rugrats Reboot Feels the Same but Looks Very DifferentPhoto Courtesy of Paramount+ TV Reviews Rugrats
To lure subscribers in, Paramount+ is investing in nostalgia and rebooted intellectual properties—a huge portion of the platform’s catalog includes older Paramount movies and television shows reworked as modern releases. Now, a reboot of the beloved children’s series Rugrats, which premieres on the streaming service on May 27, is the latest example of this trend.
Despite looking a bit different, the whole gang returns for the new series: Tommy, Chucky, Phil and Lil, Susie, and Angelica. Most of the babies are voiced by their original voice actors, like Tommy (Elizabeth Daily) and Angelica (Cheryl Chase), although new additions include Tony Hale, Timothy Simons, and Nicole Byer as their parents. Further, the innocent jokes and vague cultural references are faithful to its predecessor. In “Lady De-Clutter,” a Marie Kondo-esque professional organizer visits the Pickles’ home, leading the babies on an adventure to rescue their toys. A different episode shows us that Grandpa Lou is now on a seniors-only dating app called “Silver Beagles.” And Stu is still up to his nerdy DIY antics, installing high-tech doorbell cameras.
Straying away from the iconic, hand-drawn look of the original series, the new Rugrats is instead computer generated. The chunky 3D animation style isn’t as charming, even jarring at first, and unfortunately detracts from the reboot overall. While the original feels related to the babies’ point of view that the show takes on, this oversaturated, glossy look disconnects us.
For the most part, the animation is the weakest part of the series, but once the initial shock wears off, Rugrats is charming enough to invite in a new generation of fans. The silly and adorable capers the babies embark on are reminiscent of the original series. Even the innocent misunderstandings, like Tommy thinking the dog his parents are fostering is their new puppy named Foster, are similar. And modern social contexts are also a plus for the new series; for example, previously queer-coded Betty Deville (now voiced by Natalie Morales) makes a casual remark in passing about an ex-girlfriend.
All in all, while Paramount+ may be depending too much on mining their old IP for series, the Rugrats reboot is a nice and perfectly enjoyable remake. It doesn’t make many bold changes from the show’s original run that began 30 years ago, but beyond the new look, the curious and childlike core of Rugrats is still intact.
Rugrats premieres May 27 on Paramount+.
Kristen Reid is a culture writer and TV intern for Paste Magazine. She’s been known to spend too much time rewatching her favorite sitcoms, yelling at her friends to watch more TV, and falling in love with fictional characters. You can follow her on Twitter @kreidd for late-night thoughts on whatever she’s bingeing now.
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