Here are two new Saturday-morning cartoons that derive from the movies. They suggest that the video revolution has enabled kids to see — over and over — many theatrical films that may not have been primarily intended for young children.
House Party, for example, was the exuberant 1990 rap-music movie starring the rap duo Kid ‘N Play. Aimed at teens and adults, House Party was sprinkled with four-letter words and sexual frankness, but it also proved popular with children, who responded to its slapstick and terrific dancing.
As a cartoon show, however, Kid ‘N Play is lame. The two rappers appear in the flesh at the start and finish of each show. They engage in purportedly humorous patter and promote a little lesson for the day: ”It always pays to tell the truth,” said Kid on a recent edition. The cartoon stories are similarly didactic, and the drawing is sketchy-the animation of the duo’s fluid dancing is particularly stiff and feeble. House Party presented Kid ‘N Play as mannerly rappers; Kid ‘N Play presents them as bland ones.
Alvin, Simon, and Theodore, the Chipmunks created by David Seville more than three decades ago, were never classic kid-culture creations, but they had a certain obstreperous charm. Chipmunks Go to the Movies, however, doesn’t possess even that minimal attraction. Each week, the show takes the chipmunk trio and places them in a movie parody; episode titles include RoboMunk, Back to Our Future, and S.T. The Space Traveller.
The show assumes that children have seen the movies on which these spoofs are based and that they’ll get the references. Now, as far as this parent is concerned, RoboCop and the Chipmunks just aren’t in the same demographic; if a kid likes the Chipmunks, RoboCop will probably give the tyke nightmares. Tiresome and poorly written, Chipmunks Go to the Movies is a flop. Kid ‘N Play: C- Chipmunks Go to the Movies: D