What The Critics Say About
Critics the world over have their say regarding Rugrats Go Wild. Many critics gave the film average ratings, though some praised the film, while others trashed it. Some are those who thought The Rugrats Movie and/or Rugrats In Paris stunk, but gave Rugrats Go Wild their seal of approval, and vice versa. And of course, some critics praised or trashed the Rugrats the second or third time in a row.
In the movie ads for the film, only the most positive criiticisms are used. And of course, some movie companies unscrupulously turn negative blurbs into positive blurbs. But on this site, I'll present all sides of opinion. As for whether or not you want to see the movie, you be the judge.
1. All quotes and excerpts are copyrighted by the publishers and media companies they write for.
2. " # " indicates that the review was translated from a foreign language. Translations are by me, based on translations provided by online services from Systran and Altavista. I apologise in advance for any mistranslations. The foreign language version is on top, while the English version is on the bottom. Languages seen here are French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Italian and Dutch. I won't be able to bring you any reviews in languages other than these, as the translators don't have any other translating capabilities other than the languages above.
It should be noted that French and Spanish are generally the easiest to translate; German and Italian are the most difficult.
3, In the ads, some TV station quotes are attributed only to the reviewer and the network, when in fact that the reviewer represents only the local station that it's affiliated with; such is common practice in movie ads. For these quotes, I'll includes the call letters, channel number and the city it's based in (you have search engines to thank for that). For example, an ad gave only "Sandie Newton, CBS-TV", but due to extra research, it's become "Sandie Newton, KTVT ch.11 (CBS), Fort Worth - Dallas".
4. Some French reviews provided by Allocine.
5. Some reviews provided by Nickdisk.
6. And for those who are wondering -- yes, all reviews on this page are 100% real, unfiltered and straight from the source. For blurbs from ads, a little web research was done for verification (see # 3).
These critics liked the movie so much, that they recommend it to everyone.
ABC's Good Morning America (Joel Siegel) [From an ad for the film]
It's too much fun. I had a good time. Fun for grown-ups.
"Rugrats Go Wild" isn't just wildly funny... it's also very clever... and it's loaded with surprises! Laugh out loud fun for the whole family.
Adelphia Cable (locality not given) (Kevin Heard) [From an ad for the film]
Rugrats meet the Thornberrys equals lots of fun.
The Austin (TX) Chronicle
(Marc Savlov) 3 stars
Let's hear it for cross-product marketing, shall we? Combining two of their brightest animated kids shows (Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys), the folks at the Nickelodeon network have come up with a daffy hybrid that artfully makes the most of both shows' strengths and avoids their weaknesses almost entirely. And while the movie's not quite as engrossing as 2000's Rugrats in Paris: The Movie or last year's The Wild Thornberrys Movie, adults can still play a challenging game of "Dammit, I know that voice! Who the hell is it?" and marvel over the cavalcade of cinematic puns and in-jokes that flow through the film like krill through a baleen whale's gullet. As befits an ecologically minded program like The Wild Thornberrys, Rugrats Go Wild maroons the two shows' main characters on an island where they must then fend for themselves (sort of) while the Rugrats toddlers wander off to explore and the Thornberrys shoot a nature documentary. The conceits at work -- The Thornberrys are a globe-trotting anthropology brood with Chabert's Eliza Thornberry, who can speak to the animals, as the focus, while the Rugrats gang are pre-adolescent tykes led by the adventurous Tommy Pickles, whose pint-sized imagination views the big scary world as one giant playscape -- mesh well, as do the differing animation styles. But what really makes the film tolerable to those already past their first decade are the constant references to other films that crop up every five minutes or so. I lost track after the first half hour, but Jaws, The Abyss, Gone With the Wind, Gilligan's Island, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and -- willfully obscure and proud of it -- Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat all come in for ribbing. (What, no Odessa steps sequence?) The pop sensibilities of justly famed animation house Klasky-Csupo (which produces both shows) are featured more prominently in the Rugrats camp, while the Thornberrys clan (featuring The Rocky Horror Picture Show's Tim Curry as patriarch Nigel) marks up the ecologically aware end of the animated spectrum. It's a message movie, as are all kids films these days, but these environmentally-aware messages are sweet and unforced, and well worth hearing. Eng and Virgien's direction moves quickly and truly, and, in a nifty bit of William Castle/John Waters showmanship, Rugrats Go Wild also arrives with a scratch 'n' sniff Odorama pedigree. Cool beans indeed, even if you're too old to have a "diaper full of dreams."
Boston Phoenix (Tom Meek)
Directors Norton Virgien and John Eng handle the opulent animation crisply, and it helps that there are plenty of tart movie references (Titanic, The Planet of the Apes, and The Poseidon Adventure, to name a few) to keep adults engaged. Bruce Willis voices Spike, the Rugrats' dog, and the whole experience comes with a coordinated, scratch 'n' sniff card to let you know what soda pop and stinky feet smell like.
The Calgary Sun (Mike Bell) 3.5 stars
Rugrats Go Wild stinks -- literally. In a canny bit of cross-promotion,
scratch-and-sniff cards for the film are available from one of the burger chains,
with glow in the dark numbers and six different scents to coincide with matching
numbers that appear on the screen.
It's a cute gimmick -- and worth the chorus of "Ewwwws! that come when the kids in the audience are asked the sniff the fish and feet -- but hardly necessary.
Without them, it would still be an incredibly entertaining big-screen full-length feature family film pairing the two popular cartoon franchises of The Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys.
It's odd to hear Willis' voice coming out of the animated pooch, and odder still to hear a duet between the dog and the leopard, who is voiced by Chrissie Hynde. That said, their song, is one of the film's highlights.
In fact, the music, which includes original tracks written by Devo member Mark Mothersbaugh as well as songs by Aerosmith, The Clash and George Clinton, is backdrop to many of the best moments.
As for the film's literal backdrop, in terms of the animation, it's incredibly lush and vibrant -- more than a step up from the small-screen versions.
The underwater scenes and the closeups of the jungle insect and animal life are especially wow, at times making the characters look like cheap inhabitants of a richer world.
Other than that, Rugrats Go Wild delivers everything fans of both series will come looking for:
Loads of light humour, easy charm, bodily fluids, and, of course, as a bonus, plenty of those stinky smells.
The Cincinnati Enquirer (Margaret A. McGurk) 2 stars
The Rugrats Go Wild combines two hugely popular cartoon series, Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys, with mostly happy results.
Bruce Willis delivers fresh laughs speaking for the Rugrat dog Spike, heard through the animal-sensitive gifts of Eliza Thornberry (voice of Lacey Chabert).
Action, including a perilous ride in a small submarine, dominates the movie, but scary scenes eventually lead to last-minute rescues and parental comforting.
In a nod to the old '50s gimmick of Smell-O-Vision, the filmmakers provide scratch-and-sniff cards with odors ranging from strawberries to smelly sneakers.
Colorado Kids (A Denver Post / Rocky Mountain News joint feature) (Eric S. Elkins) [From an ad for the film]
Not just for kids, "Rugrats Go Wild" is full of homages and hilarity, with lots of silliness blown into the mix.
Crosswalk (Holly McClure)
Good: This is a funny adventure for kids that will have adults laughing and enjoying the fun time right along with the kids. The family situations are ones kids will relate to because they go through these kinds of dilemmas with their friends and parents. The adults will appreciate the witty humor, clever dialogue and positive emphasis on family and parent/child relationships. There are important themes about family, kids being separated from their parents, protecting endangered animals from man, learning to get along with others and not always having your own way, that parents can take advantage of and discuss with their kids afterwards. I loved Bruce Willis as Skip [sic] the dog! He is hilarious with his zingy one-liners and sarcastic delivery. He made the movie for me!
Bad: The language isn't necessarily bad, it's just the kind of phrases kids may want to repeat because they saw it in a movie ("You are an idiot", "Who cut the cheese?") or when Skip the dog says, "Sniff my butt". Then there are the gross situations that always seem to make kids laugh but amazes me why kids think they're funny... And there are a few scenes that may be suspenseful or scary to very young kids like a rough storm at sea that causes a tidal wave that completely engulfs their small boat, a leopard chases after Spike and later chases after the babies, etc. There are kid behaviors and attitudes that play for laughs and for an animated cartoon, there are a few suggestive scenes (...various babies pull down their diapers and we briefly see their bare cartoon bottoms...) The voices of Harris and Chabert really bug me - much like nails on a chalk board, they are whiny and annoying and I can't understand why kids like their characters, but apparently they do.
Bottom line: Overall this is a fun-filled family movie that little ones will enjoy because it stars familiar characters from TV that they've come to know and love. Watching an animated adventure that uses babies as heroes would seemingly be for younger kids but since there are teenagers and interesting adults, older kids will enjoy the story as well. Parents, you'll enjoy a few laughs along with the kids and overall, the family will be able to enjoy the adventure. It might even make for an interesting discussion of what family vacations might be better than others.
IT was with a heavy heart that I sat down to endure what I thought would be a strictly children-only affair.
But after giggling my way through the absurd antics of some funny babies - and their equally amusing older relatives - I am happy to inform you that this cartoon romp on a desert island is a lot of fun.
It's a deft combination of all-out kiddies' stuff and genuinely witty material from the eponymous Rugrats' long-suffering parents.
| Film Advisory
Board (Elayne Blythe, President) [From an ad for the film]
Bruce Willis as Spike, the "Die Hard" dog, is a perfect fit!
An exciting, colorful, doggone good, non-stop family adventure!
Left: FAB's "Award
Winner" logo, given only to films that they find very suitable for the
The Globe and Mail (Toronto) (Jennie Punter)
Two tribes find themselves on a deserted jungle island where they must face their deepest fears, form alliances and respond to a series of death-defying challenges in Rugrats Go Wild, or, as I like to call it, Survivor: Lost in Diapers.
The two "tribes" are Rugrats and the Wild Thornberrys, both of which are award-winning, animated, kids' TV shows from Klasky Csupo studios (the original animators of The Simpsons). The Rugrats, about a group of toddlers and their parents, are big-screen veterans with two previous movies to their credit (Rugrats and Rugrats in Paris). The Wild Thornberrys, a family unit (the parents produce a show about wild life, one daughter talks to animals, the other is a petulant teen and the son has "gone native"), made their big-screen debut last fall.
That being said, this is an absolutely dazzling work of animation. Klasky Csupo movies have a distinct and wild vibrancy in colour, detail and motion that is engaging to watch. And while the diapered set and their word-twisting babytalk can get tedious for the older viewer, the filmmakers always make sure to include something for the grownups. They poke fun at adult obsessions (one mom almost falls overboard trying to retrieve her cellphone) and include comic nods to movie and TV lore.
But the main nudge-nudge, wink-wink to the grownup viewers are the celebrity voices: Tim Curry (Rocky Horror Picture Show), whose Nigel Thornberry gets bonked on the head by a fallen coconut and reverts to toddler-like behaviour; and Bruce Willis, who gives voice to the Pickles family dog, Spike, and even gets his own song (a duet with Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde, who plays the white leopard).
The only disturbing thing, at least to parents who are teaching their children about caring for the environment, is the carnage to the natural wonders of the island. Part of a coral reef gets knocked out by the bathosphere run amok.
Rugrats Go Wild is perhaps too wildly ambitious in its goal to unite two powerful TV tribes to serve a common goal, but its unsentimental music (hip songs by Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh) and visual delights will capture the imagination of young and old.
The Guardian (Peter Bradshaw)
...this is a snappy, zappy piece of family entertainment.
Good clean, smelly fun.
Hot Ticket (syndicated TV program from Paramount) (Joyce Kuhawik) [From an ad for the film]
Hot! Bruce Willis' performance is brilliant and so funny. Delightful. I had a good time. Great for kids, and a wonderful time for adults too.
Fantastic! Maybe the Rugrats' best adventure ever.
Knoxville News-Sentinel (Betsy Pickle)
Summer and air conditioning. Bogart and Bacall. Moose Tracks ice cream and Magic Shell. Some things that are great on their own are even better when they're together.
Here's another example: "Rugrats Go Wild." The new animated movie unites the characters of two of TV's best children's shows - "Rugrats" and "The Wild Thornberrys" - in one doggone good adventure for kids and adults.
"Rugrats Go Wild" has humor for both young and old. Kids might not get the references to "Titanic," "The Poseidon Adventure" and "Taxi river," but they will relate to food treasures found in the most unlikely places and exploring the beautiful "drainforest."
Meanwhile, there are subtle lessons about spending time with family, learning courage, believing in dreams and becoming "vegetabletarians."
Directors Norton Virgien and John Eng and screenwriter Kate Boutilier have a strong empathy for the characters and their assets and make the most of them. The story, songs, action and humor will make audiences wild about "Rugrats Go Wild."
Los Angeles Daily News (Glenn Whipp)
There's a whiff of desperation in the idea of sandwiching Nickelodeon's two franchises -- "Rugrats' and "The Wild Thornberrys' -- into one feature film, but why complain? The combination seems to have inspired the Klasky Csupo gang to reach new comedic heights with "Rugrats Go Wild,' a movie sure to please the series' fans as well as any new initiates who happen to wander in looking for some solid family entertainment.
What's so enjoyable about the movie is the way the filmmakers -- we'll give the lion's share of the credit to writer Kate Boutilier, a veteran of both "Rugrats' and "Thornberrys' features -- explore obvious connections between the two series. Bratty little Angelica and spoiled Debbie Thornberry are natural soul mates -- and who hasn't wondered what would happen if Eliza Thornberry, the girl who can talk to the animals, hooked up with the Pickles family dog, Spike?
The movie's premise has the "Rugrats' characters chartering a boat for a high seas cruise and, a la "Gilligan's Island,' getting shipwrecked on a remote island that just happens to be where the Thornberrys are embarking on their latest adventure. There are jokes for every age group: bodily functions, bug-eating and people getting conked on the head for kids, and sly references to "Titanic,' "Jaws,' "Cast Away,' "The Perfect Storm' and "The Poseidon Adventure' for grown-ups. (Angelica singing "The Morning After' is a particularly inspired number.)
There is a bit of peril on the island, courtesy of a leopard (voiced by Chrissie Hynde) that the Thornberrys are tracking and who, in turn, is looking to snack on the "Rugrats' kids. When Spike (Bruce Willis in a great vocal turn) meets the wild animal, he's naturally dismissive -- it is just a cat, after all. This sets up a funny duet featuring Hynde and Willis that fills its three-minute running time with more clever lines than the dreadful "Cats & Dogs' managed in 90 minutes. I'd love to see Willis and Hynde on stage at next year's Oscars.
Of course, thanks to Mark Mothersbaugh, music has always been a strong suit
of the "Rugrats' movies. The latest is no exception, with several fine
original songs by Mothersbaugh and others, as well as classics like "Should
I Stay or Should I Go' that are put to good use. Willis even turns up on the
closing credits, barking out a credible version of Iggy Pop's "Lust for
Life.' Like the movie, it's a pleasant surprise.
Louisville Courier-Journal (Kathy Cano Murillo)
There are some things that will never go out of style. "The Rugrats" is one of them.
Even if your former toddlers have outgrown the pint-size cartoon tots, chances are they (and you) will still get a grin out of the diaper gang's latest big-screen adventure, -"Rugrats Go Wild".
It sounds serious, but in true Rugrats style, the quest features plenty of inside jokes for adults (campy tributes to "The Poseidon Adventure" and "Titanic") and giggles for kids.
The gold bone goes to Spike the Dog (Bruce Willis), who, thanks to Eliza Thornberry's (Lacey Chabert's) ability to talk to animals, is able to show off his charming personality. And that's only halfway through the movie -- there are plenty of other goofy treats to enjoy.
One of the film's gimmicks is its "Odorama" feature. Those who bring in their scratch-and-sniff cards (available at Burger King) are treated to various aromas ranging from stinky feet to flowers. The scents are hit-and-miss; some smell strong, while others are quite weak.
At only 81 minutes, "Rugrats Go Wild!" plays more like an extended Nickelodeon special than a theatrical feature. Aside from its clever premise, it doesn't offer much more than what we've seen on TV. Still, for the kids, it's fast and fun.
MSN.COM (Taylor Johnson) [From an ad for the film]
Go wild for this hysterical film -- full of talking dogs, singing leopards, and those adorable Rugrats.
Movieguide (Christian review magazine) 3 stars; wholesome
RUGRATS GO WILD successfully combines the two popular Nickelodeon series created by Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo, with a little help from Paul Germain and others. Children, especially fans of the two series, will enjoy the antics on the island. There's a lot of fun things going on to keep them interested. Bruce Willis as the voice of Spike helps liven things up for older audience members, but E. G. Daily, Nancy Cartwright, and Cheryl Chase as Tommy, Tommy's friend Chuckie, and Angelica also help things moving along.
RUGRATS GO WILD has some crude bathroom humor and crude language, however, to give parents pause. The comedy and action also may be a bit too intense for younger children.
Despite this, the movie has a positive moral message, that families should work together and play together. This message comes through most strongly at the lively finish.
The News-Tribune (Tacoma, WA) (Soren Anderson) 3 stars
At first blush "Rugrats Go Wild" looks like a shameless case of cross-branding gone wild.
Neither 2000's "Rugrats in Paris: The Movie" nor last year's "The Wild Thornberrys Movie" caused box-office cash registers to ka-ching the way the $100-million-grossing "The Rugrats Movie" did back in 1998. "Rugrats in Paris" took in $76.5 million and "Thornberrys" rustled up a relatively puny $40 million. It seemed the trend for big-screen derivatives of popular Nickelodeon animated TV series from powerhouse husband / wife producers Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo was decidedly downward.
How to juice up both franchises? Combine 'em! And hope synergy produces some sizzle.
And you know something? It worked.
"Rugrats Go Wild" is a lot of fun.
Stranding the Rugrats babies and their squabbling parental units on a desert island with the adventurous Thornberry clan offers a lot of opportunities for mixing and matching characters from the two 'toon franchises. And a few of those matchups are truly inspired.
Characters who were notably annoying in the previous pictures - Debbie and Donnie really grated in "The Wild Thornberrys" - are much more tolerable when they're reacting with such well-defined familiar foils as Chuckie and particularly Angelica. Or maybe it's simply that they don't wear out their welcome the way they did in those earlier movies.
With around two dozen major characters to juggle, directors Norton Virgien and John Eng and screenwriter Kate Boutilier don't dillydally on any one of them. Scenes are short and everyone gets a shot to shine, with bug-eating twins Phil and Lil DeVille and dog Spike (very energetically voiced by Bruce Willis) among the biggest scene stealers.
The pace is breakneck. One minute Rugrats and parents are braving a wild storm at sea, the next the babies are dodging a hungry leopard, and soon after that they're racing around underwater in a runaway submarine.
Jokes referring to other movies abound, ranging from "Jaws" ("We're going to need a bigger boat") to an impressive cartoon re-creation of the monster wave scene from "The Perfect Storm." Toss in oodles of sprightly songs, including a raucous duet by Angelica and Debbie of The Clash's anthemic "Should I Stay or Should I Go," and you've got a picture that's a genuinely family-friendly treat.
The Scotsman (Angus Wolfe Murray)
The film rushes along at a tremendous rate and all kinds of disastrous things happen. The grown-ups learn that they have to work together to survive and the babies rule.
This is inventive and fun. You can't ask for much more.
Seattle Times (Ted Fry) 2 stars
The toddling "Rugrats" are pop-culture heroes for most quarter-pint TV watchers, so it figures that they've also become bona fide movie stars with the small set.
In their third big-screen outing, the "Rugrats" are teamed with "The
Wild Thornberrys" clan (movie number two) for a colorfully wacky set of
circumstances appropriate to their respective TV images and certain to satisfy
The creators of "Rugrats" and "Thornberrys" have done a clever job of figuring crossover points for bringing the two together.
Several individual characters form bonds or find synergy in ways that will make perfect sense to those who know them intimately.
Bossy Angelica Pickles picks up a few pointers from teenage bossy expert Debbie Thornberry, and timid Chuckie Finster gets valuable training in self-sufficiency when he trades clothes and personalities with feral Donnie Thornberry. We also get to hear the voice of Spike the dog, thanks to the presence of Eliza "Dr. Dolittle" Thornberry, who channels a surprisingly apt Bruce Willis through the rugmutt.
There's a fair bit of cleverness and craft in the filmmaking, too, with vivid widescreen animation that's several cuts above the TV variety -- including some great underwater scenes -- and a bunch of kid-friendly music.
A slew of inside jokes will sail way above the little ones but smack into the moms and dads. Sly references to everything from "Titanic," "Jaws," "The Poseidon Adventure," "Gilligan's Island," "The Perfect Storm," "Cast Away," "Taxi Driver," "Star Wars," "Planet of the Apes" and the Marx Brothers whiz by in bits of dialogue and visual or musical cues.
A less successful effect is the "Odorama" scratch 'n' sniff card passed out to audiences that may leave kids scratching their heads as numbers come up onscreen telling them to catch a whiff of fish, feet or peanut butter. They all smell like cardboard.
Sky Movies (Tim Evans)
The boisterous babies team up with the Wild Thornberrys on a Polynesian island known as Uninhabited in this enjoyable cartoon romp that apparently contains "mild peril."
There's a lot of reasons to see this colourful caper featuring the anklebiters of television fame, not least to hear Bruce Willis belting out Lust for Life.
...the individual styling is strong, from Curry's datedly kind Nigel Thornberry (or Strawberry as the rugrats have it) to his animal-conversing daughter Eliza.
Indeed, her chats with rugrats hound Spike (Willis) are some of the highlights of a film that is happy to spoof the likes of Titanic and Perfect Storm.
Anyone who has (suffers) kids will recognise their propensity to devour bugs while older parents enduring teens will want to brain the tyranical Angelica (Chase).
Its' an ideal example of two being better than one as the families, with all their emotional baggage, link up to provide above par kids' fare.
"We're part of TV stunt designed to humiliate us," explains a rugrat mum. Got it in one.
The Star-Tribune (Minneapolis) (Randy A. Salas) 3 stars [Portions used in ad for film in bold.]
"Rugrats Go Wild" is nothing to turn up one's nose at, although viewers might have the urge after smelling the feet of bug-eating toddler Phil.
The animated movie, which unites the casts of the popular Nickelodeon cartoons "Rugrats" and "The Wild Thornberrys," is presented in Odorama, a ploy most famously used in John Waters' 1981 film "Polyester." When a number appears in the corner of the screen, moviegoers scratch and sniff the appropriate spot on a card and get a whiff of what's happening in the story.
It's a gimmick this delightful film doesn't need -- but it sure is fun, especially for kids.
All of the TV shows' traits are here: the toddlers' bathroom humor, the conniving of bratty preschooler Angelica Pickles (Cheryl Chase), the crazy schemes of Stu, the dry wit of Nigel Thornberry (Tim Curry), the moaning and groaning of Debbie Thornberry (Danielle Harris).
New wrinkles include a voice for the Pickles' family dog, Spike (Bruce Willis), thanks to the ability of Eliza Thornberry (Lacey Chabert) to talk to animals, and a memorable switcheroo between redheaded Rugrat Chuckie Finster (Nancy Cartwright, also the voice of Bart Simpson) and the Thornberrys' adopted jungle boy, Donnie (Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers). Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde has a guest stint as the voice of an elusive leopard that causes trouble for the castaways.
Like the shows, the movie is at its best when it sneaks in funny bits for grownups. Movie references dominate on this outing, including nods to "The Perfect Storm," "Jaws," "Planet of the Apes" and a gut-busting musical number lifted from "The Poseidon Adventure."
"Rugrats Go Wild" probably won't attract many new viewers. But for those already familiar with these oddly lovable characters, this one comes out smelling like a rose.
The Stranger (Seattle)
In Bruce Willis' triumphant return to voice-over, Nickelodeon gets the bright idea to mingle their franchises in a big screen cash cow sure to break heavy ground in the field of animation franchises.
Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale)
Eight stars is a lot to give a frothy summer flick based on the gathering of two animated TV shows, but that's what 5-year-old assistant film critic Jordan insisted on giving Rugrats Go Wild. And that was despite my own insistence that the Sun-Sentinel rating system only goes to four stars. When you're 5, you have your own standards.
So is Rugrats Go Wild really such overwhelming perfection in animation? Well, let's reserve that honor for Finding Nemo. But the likable film keeps with this summer's watery theme. And it does hit on a few perfect matches that are worth enjoying for those familiar with the clans Finster, Pickles, De Ville and Thornberry: The Thornberrys' teen queen Debbie goes head to head with bossy 3-year-old Angelica. Eyeglass-wearing Chuckie gets plenty of grief from jungle boy Donnie.
Speedy musical numbers and even faster editing keep the adventure moving at a pace that will likely eclipse the youngest viewers (but they're only watching to see Rugrats twins Phil and Lil eat bugs anyway).
Odorama cards -- with such unforgettable scents as smelly feet -- are being distributed for the film, and corresponding numbers pop up on the screen telling kids when to scratch and sniff (and then loudly exclaim, "Ewwwwww!"), making the theater experience a very talky one. My particular gang of assistants -- which also included Payton, 8, and Hayley, 2 -- were not as interested in the cards as they were their gummy bears and cookie dough bites. But all three clapped along with the snappy songs by Angelica, who wants to rule as an island princess, and Spike the dog, who just wants to find his babies.
TV Guide (US) [online only] (Angel Cohn) 3 stars
The Flintstones and The Jetsons got there first, but the union of popular Nickelodeon cartoons The Wild Thornberrys and Rugrats is still inspired. And while this animated feature's plot plunders survival tales ranging from Gilligan's Island to THE PERFECT STORM (2000) , it's an enjoyable ride.
While some of the subplots, like Tommy's bonding with Nigel, seem better suited to the small screen most of this film lives up to feature expectations. The kid-friendly characters are immensely likeable -- Phil and Lil's newfound "vegetabletarianism" is a highlight -- and inside jokes like Angelica's rendition of "The Morning After" from THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1972) after the family's boat capsizes, cater to adults. "Odorama," the film's interactive scratch-and-sniff gimmick, made its debut with John Waters's POLYESTER (1981) but is put to good use evoking the pungent smells of stinky feet and peanut butter.
US Conference of Catholic Bishops
A-I -- general patronage
Entertaining animated sequel pairing the characters of Nicolodeon's two most popular TV series -- "Rugrats " and "The Wild Thornberrys" -- who find themselves marooned together on a deserted tropical island full of adventure and danger. Directed by Norton Virgien and John Eng, and imparting a strong message about family values, the film packs enough punch to engage young viewers, as well as adults along for the ride.
Just after the start of interleague baseball, here's interleague cartoons:
"Rugrats Go Wild" (Paramount), the third film in the franchise, is
a fun-filled animated adventure bringing together for the first time two of
Nickelodeon's most popular kids TV series, "Rugrats" and "The
Directed by Norton Virgien and John Eng, and promoting a positive family-values message, this delightful cross-pollinating romp should prove satisfying for young fans of both shows, while written smartly enough to keep parental snoring to a minimum.
Despite the larger format, the film retains much of series' small-screen charm, keeping the focus on the zany tykes, including bossy Angelica (voiced by Cheryl Chase), timid Chuckie (voiced by Nancy Cartwright) and Tommy (voiced by E.G. Daily), an adventurous toddler with "a diaper full of dreams." Bruce Willis lends his gravel-toned pipes to Spike, their faithful dog, transforming the milquetoast mutt into a pooch with pizzazz.
While obviously targeted at younger audiences, the film moves along at a good pace and packs enough of a satirical punch to allow parents to leave the No-Doz pills at home. And whereas fans of the highly successful TV shows will have fun watching their favorite little rascals on the big screen, older viewers along for the ride should get a kick out of the many cinematic references peppered throughout. Besides the obvious allusion to "Gilligan's Island," the film subtly spoofs "Titanic," "Cast Away," "The Perfect Storm," "The Poseidon Adventure" and "Planet of the Apes," not to mention paying clever homage to a famous "I Love Lucy" skit. And while the animation is not in the same sandbox as Disney, the quirky, less polished artwork lends itself well to the characters' edgy, oddball personalities.
As an extra, albeit gimmicky, bonus, "Rugrats Go Wild" features interactive "odorama" cards, which are passed out to young audience members. When a number flashes on the screen during the movie, viewers can scratch the corresponding patch on the card and sniff smells ranging from strawberries to stinky feet.
In addition to imparting a strong message about the importance of families spending time together, the film also promotes a healthy respect for nature.
Us Weekly (Thelma Adams) [From an ad for the film]
We are just about wild about Rugrats... almost more fun for the parents than it is for the kids.
WDAF ch.4 (Fox), Kansas City (Shawn
Edwards) [From an ad for the film]
Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys make a winning combination!
WFLD ch.32 (Fox), Chicago (David Viggiano) [From an ad for the film]
Adults and kids alike will "Go Wild" for this wacky adventure. Bruce
Willis as the voice of Spike? Inspired!
WHDH ch.7 (NBC), Boston (Sara Edwards) [From an ad for the film]
A perfect family film, full of fun and plenty of laughs.
Walla Walla (WA) Union-Bulletin (Rick Eskil)
Rugrats Go Wild didn't stink. Unfortunately, it was supposed to - stink, that is.
I had heard the marketing geniuses at Nickelodeon are presenting the third Rugrats film in Odorama. I, however, didn't smell a thing.
About 20 minutes into the film I went to the lobby to ask a couple of the theater employees about the lack of smell.
``Smell?' they said with look that might indicate these guys just had smelled something bad or, perhaps, they thought I was just gaslighting them. No, they said, still perplexed, they knew nothing about Odorama.
Hmmn, perhaps it is something that can only be done at certain theaters. How? I still had no clue. So, back to the film I went - slightly disappointed.
It wasn't hard to get back into the movie because the plot isn't all that complicated - unless, of course, you have never seen Nickelodeon's ``Rugrats' and ``Wild Thornberrys' cartoon series. Knowledge of those shows is critical to enjoying this movie.
The Rugrats and Thornberrys end up getting together, much like the castaways on ``Gilligan's Island' used to get together with the guest stars who popped up on the island each week. Adventure follows miscommunication that follows adventure. It never stops.
And that non-stop action, peppered with the usual Rugrats gags plus a few new twists (such as Spike the dog talking through the voice of Bruce Willis), kept the kids attention.
My son, Adam, and his friend, Addily Dyer - both 7 - had their eyes glued to the screen. They laughed at all the jokes, particularly Spike's bodily function quips.
I thought the film was OK. It wasn't as good, cute or clever as The Rugrats Movie, Rugrats in Paris or even The Wild Thornberrys Movie.
Still, the two kids liked it. And they didn't seem to care about the lack of Odorama.
I, however, regretted not having an opportunity to give it a whiff.
So, as we were walking out of the theater, the kids were chattering about the various parts of the film they liked.
``Too bad we couldn't smell the movie,' I said.
``That's because we didn't get the scratch-and-sniff card,' Adam said matter-of-factly.
``Card?' I said.
``You can get them at Blockbuster,' Adam said.
``How did you know this?'
``I saw it on the commercials,' Adam said with a tone indicating I was clearly out of touch.
I was. I don't spend much time watching Nickelodeon. Apparently the theater staff is also out of touch.
Adam - his finger on the pulse of popular culture - was right. Scratch-and-sniff cards are available for free at Walla Walla's Blockbuster stores and also Burger King.
Why didn't Adam tell me sooner? Simple - I didn't ask.
I'm not sure Odorama would have made the movie-going experience any better for me. The smells apparently range from pleasant (root beer) to gross (feet and sardines).
But I know it wouldn't have meant much to Adam and Addily. They were so focused on the movie that they wouldn't have taken the time to scratch or sniff.
Rugrats Go Wild is solid kiddie entertainment with or without Odorama.
Washington Post (Jane Horwitz)
Yes, they're hyping it to a fare-thee-well, but on its own merits "Rugrats Go Wild" is a hooty, riotous adventure, packed with humor and interesting factoids in keeping with the TV shows it's based on.
Most kids 6 and older will delight in the happy mingling of characters from Nickelodeon's "Rugrats" and "The Wild Thornberrys." Parents will appreciate the second layer of wit -- ironies, satiric homages to movies.
The hand-drawn look makes for a nice contrast to the great computer-animated "Finding Nemo." There's even a low tech "odorama" scratch-and-sniff card handed out at the movie.
These critics point out the good and the bad sides of the film, too good
to be missed, but not quite enough for their total approval.
Boston Globe (Lousie Kennedy) 2.5 stars
Slapstick and potty humor for the kids, sly allusions and famous voices for the adults, and a light coating of aren't-we-lucky-to-have-each-other schmaltz at the very end - yep, Nickelodeon has the family-flick formula pretty much down. And, like most formulas, it won't kill you, but it will leave you longing for tastier fare.
This time out, in ''Rugrats Go Wild,'' we have the ''Rugrats'' meeting the ''Wild Thornberrys'' on a desert island. Don't ask how they got there; it involves a cruise gone awry, but it doesn't matter. But talk about synergy! Two Nick shows, two similar but surely not identical audiences - how could it not pull everyone in? Add the ''Odorama'' gimmick, in which you get a scratch 'n' sniff card from Burger King to deploy when numbers flash onscreen at key moments, and they might even lure a few John Waters fans into the multiplex.
Or at least they'll give a good chuckle to those of us who remember Waters's pioneering use of Odorama in the decidedly non-kiddie ''Polyester.'' (Waters, meanwhile, is reportedly not amused; he told the San Jose Mercury News he's thinking of taking legal action over the use of the name.) And that's hardly the only in-joke for movie buffs; ''Rugrats Go Wild'' features fleeting, and not-so-fleeting, references to ''Titanic,'' ''The Perfect Storm,'' ''The Poseidon Adventure,'' and just about every other marine disaster movie ever made - not to mention ''Gone With the Wind,'' ''Duck Soup,'' and even, as a more astute colleague pointed out, ''Tea and Sympathy.''
Those are undoubtedly the highlights for adult viewers - well, unless you've always longed to hear a duet between Bruce Willis and Chrissie Hynde, in which case your ship has come in. (He's a dog, she's a leopard, and each sounds about as good as you'd expect.) But the real question is not whether it's a great movie for adults - you already know the answer to that one - but whether it's bearable, and whether the kids will love it.
It is, and they will. It's too noisy, both sonically and visually, and the story is as thin as the soundtrack is thick; the diapered stars wander through a rainforest, as bratty preschooler Angelica of ''Rugrats'' bonds with bratty teenager Debbie of ''Thornberrys,'' and parents of both parties remain clueless. (Unfortunately, the adults-are-idiots ethos of ''Rugrats'' here seems to trump the no-they're-just-quirky take of ''Thornberrys,'' and fakey baby talk is no more charming coming from a dazed Nigel Thornberry than it is from the 'rats themselves.) But it moves right along, there are a few catchy tunes, and the kids will roar at all the bodily secretions - none of which, fortunately (unless you count ''stinky feet''), get translated onto that Odorama card.
Like the Drummonds and Mrs. Garrett's Eastland girls before them, the Rugrats and the Thornberrys were bound to meet on-screen.
In "Rugrats Go Wild," the third big-screen feature for Nickelodeon's wildly popular animated "Rugrats" TV series, creators Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo (who also created the Thornberrys) and writer Kate Boutilier (who also wrote "The Wild Thornberrys Movie") send the Rugrats and their parents on an island adventure.
But what if moviegoers need more than just wandering babies to keep them occupied? As if one gimmick wasn't enough, someone with too much time to spare came up with Oderama, an interactive scratch-and-sniff game. Every five scenes or so, a flashing number appears on the bottom-right corner of the screen. Each number corresponds to a picture/scent-in-waiting on cards given out to audience members prior to the movie. A number flashes, everybody fishes around in the dark for the card, scratches and sniffs, and allegedly this enhances the experience.
If taking your fingernail to a foot (scent No. 4) induces hunger, the Burger King advertisement on the card should give you an idea of where to eat afterward. I have yet to figure out how BK is connected to Nickelodeon, but I'm sure the answer resides somewhere in the bowels of Viacom.
Gimmick No. 3 amongst all the bells and whistles is the Rugrats' dog Spike. After years as an apparent mute, Spike speaks. And sings. Voiced by Bruce Willis, Spike has a pretty awful duet with Siri the hunted leopard, played by musician Chrissie Hynde.
Spike has some funny one-liners, but I doubt a talking dog will impress or astonish kids.
Though the Thornberrys provide some much-needed energy, asking them to carry the movie is like expecting a sweeps-week celebrity cameo to make an entire 30-minute sitcom episode funny. As the title suggests, the Rugrats get most of the face time and hence are responsible for producing most of the laughs. Yet even with Nickelodeon's cross-pollination efforts and the dazzling Oderama concept, the 12-year-old babies just aren't funny this time.
The Christian Science Monitor (David Sterritt) 2 stars
...the Thornberrys scenes are more fun than the Rugrats material, but the film
turns into an enjoyable enough trip. Don't expect much from the scratch-and-sniff
"odorama" gimmick; the mischievous John Waters set a higher standard
for that novelty in "Polyester".
Stick a fork in the "Rugrats" movie franchise. It's done.
It's not easy following "Finding Nemo" -- the latest and greatest Pixar sensation -- but that's not the only problem dogging the animated "Rugrats Go Wild," a shrill imitation of the "Rugrats" of yore.
How derivative is it? Let me count the ways. It follows in the little footsteps of the charming "The Rugrats Movie," the somewhat less charming "Rugrats in Paris" and the overly earnest "The Wild Thornberrys Movie" (the big-screen adaptation of the other Klasky/Csupo television series).
But while parents and older children may sigh, younger children should chortle once again at the generous flashing of bare baby behinds and bountiful booger jokes.
The "Titanic" and "Gilligan's Island" references may go over their heads, but the jungle scenes are pretty. It's cool when Spike, the Rugrats dog, finally gets to speak -- because Eliza Thornberry (Lacey Chabert) understands what animals say. And cooler still when he speaks with the voice of Bruce Willis.
The kids will probably like the Odorama cards, available at Blockbuster and Burger King -- so go prepared. You watch for each of six numbers to flash on the corner of the screen, and then you scratch and sniff a variety of smells that correspond to the action, including peanut butter, root beer and smelly feet.
Hey, it's a gimmick. But at this point in the "Rugrats" journey, gimmicks are the main remaining attraction.
Deseret News (Salt Lake City) (Jeff Vice) 3 stars
The use of the old scratch-and-sniff gimmick in "Rugrats Go Wild" seems to indicate a certain lack of confidence about the material on the part of the filmmakers and the studio. That's something of a surprise, as both "Rugrats" movies and "The Wild Thornberrys" feature have been successes, so the big-screen pairing of the two animated franchises seems like a no-lose proposition.
Still, this animated adventure/comedy gets off to a pretty slow start, and there's a certain amount of "padding" (including the use of "guest voices" and some rather pointless musical interludes). But it does recover quickly, and the whole thing moves at a brisk pace. And while this isn't exactly great filmmaking, it is amusing and is better than anything outside of the Disney-Pixar collaborations.
The resulting parodies of "The Poseidon Adventure," "Planet of the Apes" and other older movies are sure to go over the heads of the young target audiences. But then again, some of the more juvenile jokes here are clearly aimed at them and not their parents.
Actually, the colorful animation and resulting silliness should please both young and old. And speaking of enjoying things, the voice cast sounds inspired -- especially Willis, who is clearly having a blast. Although . . . did we really need to hear him sing?
Detroit News (Tom Long) C+
Sad to say, the "Rugrats" babies are getting a bit long in the diaper. That doesn't mean kids won't love "Rugrats Go Wild" and parents won't find themselves smiling through most of it. But the babies, once the surest bet this side of Disney and Pixar for kids entertainment adults could enjoy, are getting a bit old.
Indeed, there's even a point in this film where a parent, running wild-eyed through a typical cartoon calamity, says something to the effect of, "It seems like I've seen this before." And ain't it the truth? Once again, our gaggle of toddlers wanders off as a group (really, it's a wonder these parents weren't locked up years ago for child neglect), stumbling through a pleasantly preposterous adventure that ends in near disaster, only to emerge unscathed and gurgling.
Still, ya gotta love 'em.
The film doesn't even bother to hide the similarities between the franchises -- strong mother figures, bumbling but goodhearted fathers, spoiled blond girls. Oh, well, the kids won't notice.
But the parents might. As always, there's plenty of wonderful Rugrats word play -- the babies march through a "drain forest," Lil decides to become a "vegetabletarian," and they're searching for Sir Nigel "Strawberry" -- but too much of the time "Go Wild" seems like just another Rugrats movie, nice as they may be.
One final note: Viewers of this film will be offered odorama scratch and sniff cards with smells that correspond to the film. There is no diaper smell, but the smelly feet spot adequately compensates.
We know that horror fans are salivating at the thought of Dracula, Frankensteins Monster and the Wolf Man teaming up in next years Van Helsing. But do tiny tots, while storing up on sugary cereals in front of the TV, pray for the day that the Rugrats will cross paths with The Wild Thornberrys?
Thats what happens here, as Tommy Pickles and his baby chums are shipwrecked on the island where the Thornberrys are making their latest wildlife documentary.
This latest Nickelodeon venture favours the Rugrats formula and doesnt have the width of The Wild Thornberrys movie, proving that there are indeed a finite number of bug-eating and diaper-filling jokes. However, its lively and anarchic, Bruce Willis cameos as the voice of Spike the dog, and a scratch n sniff card gives an interactive whiff to on-screen items such as peanut butter and smelly feet.
Focus On The Family (Loren Eaton)
Will the Rugrats bump into The Wild Thornberrys? Do movie studios love lots of money?
positive elements: Love, loyalty and perseverance are upheld as commendable ideals.
negative elements: Scatology is the Rugrats' biggest downer and there's a lot of it. Almost anything smelly that the body produces gets screen time. References to and appearances of defecation (human and animal) are common, as is talk of eating boogers and bugs. One of the babies devours any insect that crosses his path and waxes eloquent about how the little critters have nourished his young frame.
Debbie and Angelica's impolite actions might give parents pause as well. Though both unselfishly aid their families by movie's end, most of the time they're incredibly bossy and uncouth. Not a great example for young eyes.
conclusion: It sounds like a premise straight out of a marketing meeting: "Hey, there are these two really popular kids' series. Why don't we concoct some convoluted plot to connect the two, make a movie and rake in the cash? We can even throw in a really bizarre promotion to get peoples' attention!" (Burger King is offering free scratch-and-sniff cards that allow audiences to get their olfactory organs in on the film.) It's ironic, then, that this mash-up of Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys works fairly well. Though much of its humor is at a 5- to 6-year-old sophistication level, clever homages to Titanic, The Crocodile Hunter, The Perfect Storm, Gilligan's Island, The Swiss Family Robinson and Star Wars mean parents won't be pulling their hair out from boredom halfway through. What will have them grabbing for graying strands is the film's modeling of rude behavior and its constant bathroom humor. That's sure to inspire little carpet crawlers everywhere to Go Wild.
The Hartford Courant (Malcolm Johnson) 2 stars
Cagily, the Nickelodeon folks have one-upped New Line and its battle between Freddy and Jason by bringing together the two first families of kiddie toon television. "Rugrats Go Wild" neatly blends a jungle island adventure with many a movie reference, to keep accompanying parents chuckling.All of this unreels at a zippy pace under the co-direction of Norton Virgien and John Eng. And while the characters are crudely rendered, simple outlines, boldly stylized as kids might draw them, the backgrounds are often vivid and even beautiful. Such is the formula perfected by the producer-creators, Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo, now on their fifth feature for Paramount Pictures. The visual mix has its counterparts in the screenplay by Kate Boutilier, another veteranof the two Nickelodeon franchises. Humor aimed at very young children, with much emphasis on diapers in the case of the Rugrats, contrasts with fairly sophisticated allusions to movies.
It all unfolds in a nonstop, colorful stream of artful if less than overpowering animation, easy to take for parents and grandparents, as well as babies and even sullen teens like Dear Debbie.
The Hollywood Reporter (Sherri Linden)
Fresh off their Parisian holiday gone awry, the most resourceful toddlers in cartoon history wander into the wild kingdom for another harmlessly disastrous adventure.
While it doesn't pack quite the pop culture punch of "The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones," this pairing of Klasky Csupo's "Rugrats" and "The Wild Thornberrys" will have special appeal for fans of the two Nickelodeon series.
For grown-ups, there's the bonus of Chrissie Hynde crooning, and for kids, there's interactive excitement in the form of the ever-disturbing Odorama, with scratch-and-sniff cards courtesy of a Burger King tie-in offering such olfactory treats as peanut butter, flowers and feet.
In a departure from the previous two "Rugrats" features, the film has garnered a PG rating for "mild crude humor" -- mostly of the diapey-related variety.
There's nothing here that will shock kids, but there's plenty of spoofing that will bypass them completely. In the early going, movie allusions come fast and furious -- perhaps too much so.
The frenetic pace detracts from the film's wealth of personalities and vivid visuals. There's the unshakable sense that "Rugrats Go Wild" is trying too hard to please kids and adults and as a result falls somewhat short for both sets of viewers.
The film, whose boxoffice performance should be steady rather than spectacular, is nonetheless a quality summertime diversion for families. At the screening caught, the material that drew the biggest laughs from kids was in the realm of old-fashioned pratfalls and the time-tested conk on the head -- not to mention smelly feet.
Mark Mothersbaugh and other composers contribute middling rock numbers, the highlight being a duet by Willis and Hynde. There's also the surprise of a Clash tune.
Houston Press (Luke Y. Thompson)
To all those people who've missed Bruce Willis's singing career: prepare to have your heart leap for joy. Not only does the returning Bruno cover Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" on this film's soundtrack, but as the voice of dog Spike, he even gets to duet with Chrissie Hynde, voicing a snow leopard. Willis also gets to deliver possibly the most unpleasant line of dialogue heard in a movie all year: "I ate one of Chuckie's diapers once, and lemme tellya, that is spicy." The movie's plot involves the Rugrats getting shipwrecked and encountering the far more interesting Wild Thornberrys (patriarch voiced by Tim Curry), but the real selling point here is the return of Odorama, the interactive scratch-and-sniff process pioneered by John Waters. "Diaper," thankfully, is not one of the odors. The animation looks good, especially when CG-enhanced, but the Rugrats babies' constant snot jokes, bug-eating and "cute" mispronunciations grate after a while. If only Klasky-Csupo would resurrect their best and most adult show, Duckman, for the big screen.
It was perhaps inevitable that the characters from the popular Nickelodeon TV series "The Rugrats" and "The Wild Thornberrys" and their respective feature films would meet on the big screen. The result, "Rugrats Go Wild," is ideal for family audiences familiar with the combined characters that densely populate this adventure.
"Rugrats Go Wild" has the distinctive look of Klasky Csupo animation, with the backgrounds a series of richly hued, elegantly stylized illustration, a good foil to the more simply drawn, affectionately caricatured people and animals. The film, like the TV series scored by Mark Mothersbaugh, has a clutch of witty songs, and "Rugrats Go Wild" is chock-full of references to other TV shows and movies
Some characters are more vivid than others. The imperious Charlotte Pickles (Tress MacNeille) is transformed by unexpected adventure, and bossy Rugrat Angelica (Cheryl Chase) discovers herself in the full-of-attitude Debbie. Eliza, the star of "The Wild Thornberrys Movie" is on the sidelines here, yet her mother, Marianne, once again gets a chance to demonstrate her endless resourcefulness in crisis. Curry's plummy accent underlines Sir Nigel's sweet obtuseness. On the anthropomorphic side are the alert and heroic dog Spike (Bruce Willis) and the leopard Siri (Chrissie Hynde).
Directors Norton Virgien's and John Eng's pacing is brisk, and voice director Charlie Adler elicits highly expressive performances, crucial in voicing animated characters, from his large cast. The number of characters makes "Rugrats Go Wild" somewhat bulkier than its less complicated predecessors, but fans are not likely to mind.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Mary-Liz Shaw) 2.5 stars
OK, kids, let's play Spot the Allusion in "Rugrats Go Wild."
Anything to do with water or shipwrecks is a gimme: "Titanic," "The Poseidon Adventure," "Jaws," "The Perfect Storm," "Swiss Family Robinson." But full points to those obsessive-compulsives who can pick up on all the other references, subtle and ham-fisted, to famous films, TV shows and books: "Taxi Driver," "The Piano," "Gone With the Wind," "The Simpsons," "Lord of the Flies."
Most of these would be lost on anyone under 25, well above the target audience of a Rugrats movie. But the term "target audience" can be meaningless with "The Rugrats," which, like "The Simpsons," is a show as much about pop culture commentary as it is about precocious toddlers.
"Rugrats Go Wild" links two of Nickelodeon's most popular programs, "Rugrats" and "The Wild Thornberrys," in a hip, tongue-in-cheek script with a slightly waterlogged plot: Tourists get stranded on uncharted desert isle, revert to chaos, build flimsy huts; smart one makes radio out of stuff in his pocket; rescue ensues with help from kooky Brit and family.
Except for the rescue, it's straight out of "Gilligan's Island."
But who cares? The whole thing is really just a vehicle for Angelica to steal all the best lines, as usual, and for Tommy Pickles to prove he isn't just a "backyard baby with a diaper full of dreams."
The 81-minute movie alternates between a zippy, jet-ski pace and plodding plot set-ups.
It takes too long, for instance, for the stranded parents to meet the Thornberrys. And the film has the annoying habit, common to TV commercials, of introducing cool songs, such as The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" and cutting them off at the best parts.
The trailers hype that the film has the Rugrats' dog, Spike, speak for the first time, courtesy of Nigel's daughter Eliza, who can talk to animals. But the smart-alecky, Joisey-Shore toughness of Bruce Willis seems ill-suited to Spike, with his endearing, misguided enthusiasm and eagerness to please. Too bad Ellen DeGeneres was already contracted to "Finding Nemo."
Still, Willis' singing talents come in handy for a blues duet with Chrissie Hynde, who voices the leopard. She's no Shere Khan, the gold standard for evil animated cats from "The Jungle Book." But the song isn't bad.
The other piece of trailer hype - scratch-'n'-sniff cards - is a gimmick best ignored, not least because the smells are too faint to detect in an enclosed space overwhelmed by the aroma of movie popcorn.
One kid at a recent preview complained that the "stinky feet" smell wasn't gross, as he'd been led to believe: "It smells sweet, like perfume."
It's a notoriously bad time of year for Hollywood, but between this one and Finding Nemo, at least the kids (and kids at heart) should be pleased.
New York Post (Megan Lehmann) 2.5 stars
The Rugrats clan continues its fixation with boogers, bird poo and smelly diapers -- and, thanks to scratch-and-sniff cards that accompany "Rugrats Go Wild", pint-sized fans can join in the olfactory obsession.
Smell-O-Vision didn't work when John Waters tried it on 1981's "Polyester" -- but at least it was funny.
A theater of 3- and 4-year olds grappling (loudly) with the concept of scratching a certain icon when a certain number flashes on the screen is surely a parent's worst nightmare.
Beyond the ill-conceived odorama gimmick, the new "Rugrats" movie, originally called "The Rugrats Meet the Wild Thornberrys" until marketing honchos realized the former Nickelodeon franchise was a bigger selling point -- is harmless, if slightly hyperactive, fun.
Crammed with energetic action and sprinkled with welcome absurdist touches, it often approaches a mild, kiddie version of a gross-out comedy (Babies mooning adults! Eating boogers! Munching bugs!).
Despite the welcome inclusion of a few adult-friendly references -- "Titanic", "The Lord Of The Flies" and "The Poseidon Adventure" -- "Rugrats Go Wild"... collapses into an overly-frantic jumble toward the end.
But the animation is attractive, and there are some catchy musical numbers, particularly a canine vs. feline duet between Willis and Hynde.
Orlando Sentinel (Jay Boyar) 3 stars
If your kids are into the Rats or the Berrys or, more alarmingly, both, then surely you've already heard a lot -- perhaps too much -- about this film.
From the parental point of view, Rugrats Go Wild doesn't begin to approach the high entertainment level of the recent Finding Nemo. Still, it's a full step up from The Wild Thornberrys Movie and far, far easier to take than the lamentable, seemingly endless Rugrats in Paris: The Movie.
Directed by Norton Virgien and John Eng, Rugrats Go Wild is a fairly well-paced, borderline-entertaining kiddie flick. There are several perky, if less-than-memorable, songs, plus occasional attempts to use the big screen in ways that transcend the elementary animation of the TV shows.
For kids, the fun is seeing how the Rats and the Berrys get along.
Rugrats Go Wild is presented in Odorama, which you can theoretically experience in all its aromatic glory if you pick up a scratch-and-sniff card at Burger King or Blockbuster Video. The smells are numbered, and it's up to you to scratch and sniff the appropriate one when its number flashes on the screen.
At a preview screening, there must have been something wrong with at least one card because all of its pleasant aromas (a strawberry, a flower, etc.) smelled just like the rose-scented soap in your old-school aunt's bathroom. All the bad odors (a foot, a fish, etc.) smelled like Rugrat Tommy's diaper.
To make matters worse, the promotional picture of a Burger King entrée, which is also on the card, smelled a lot like the latter. A joke is a joke, and yet this certainly could not have been intentional.
As for the film as a whole, it "smells" somewhere in between. And under the circumstances, that's a whole lot better than anyone might have hoped.
Philadelphia Inquirer (Carrie Rickey) 2.5 stars
Rugrats Go Wild, painted in the mud, orange and purple hues of the beloved Nickelodeon shows, has the misfortune of being released in very close proximity to Finding Nemo, one of the most ravishing animations ever. While Nemo's story line is as clear as its pellucid blues, Wild's narrative is as muddy as its colors.
The Pickles clans think they are going on a luxury cruise - scatterbrained Stu has neglected to tell them they're taking a tugboat to the high seas from the same pier that the luxury cruise leaves from. They promptly shipwreck, providing ample opportunities for clever parodies of lost-at-sea movies such as Titanic and The Poseidon Adventure and every castaway story from Swiss Family Robinson to...Castaway.
Adults did howl with laughter when Betty, the feminista mom of Phil and Lil, draws a "Circle of Chaos" in the sand in order to focus the adults on the serious projects of gathering food and building shelter. Kids delighted at the empowerment scenario of Tommy, Chuckie, Kimi, et al. leaving parental care and exploring the island on their own. Tweens screamed at the meeting of the divas, 5-year-old Angelica and 16-year-old Debbie, the two bossiest babes in cartoonland. And an OK time was had by all.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Scott Mervis) 3 stars
...the comic possibilities are boundless, and the Klasky-Csupo production team goes at it with gusto to make the best "Rugrats" movie of the series.
The most hyped part of the movie is the meeting of Eliza, who can talk to the animals, with Spike, the newly loquacious Pickles dog. Spike sounds a lot like ... Bruce Willis on too much caffeine.
The challenge for the Pickles-Finster clan is to round up the scattered Rugrats and make it off the island. The challenge for the Thornberrys is to survive the Pickles-Finster clan.
The result is just as fast, funny and action-packed as you want it to be, with breaks for Angelica to sing, musical interludes using Aerosmith, Chrissie Hynde and the Clash, and no shortage of potty humor.
We expect nothing less from Nickelodeon.
The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH) (Clint O'Connor)
In the great tradition of the Jetsons meeting the Flintstones and the Harlem Globetrotters visiting Gilligan's Island, two be loved groups have teamed up for film fun: the Rugrats and the Wild Thornberrys.
The results are mixed. For one thing, there are too many char acters and not enough plot. It does not have the je ne sais quoi of "Rugrats in Paris: The Movie." But kids will enjoy seeing the two TV shows join forces. And there are extras.
First is the scratch and sniff.
Paramount/Nickelodeon is distributing "Odorama" cards to help promote the film. The catch is they are available at Burger King and Blockbuster video stores. The cards have six numbers and six small pictures (of root beer, a strawberry, a smelly foot and other things). During the movie, when a number pops up on the lower right hand corner of the screen, you scratch the appropriate picture and inhale.
Speaking of sniffing, Spike the dog, mute for years on small and big screens, finally speaks. He sounds a lot like Bruce Willis. Even stranger, a menacing leopard Spike and the gang meet on the island sounds a lot like rocker Chrissie Hynde. Willis and Hynde even sing together.
Which brings us to extra No. 3: the soundtrack. Ohio's own Devo dude Mark Mothersbaugh has been the "Rugrats" musical director for years. This time out he has a lot of fun mixing new tunes, covers and guest appearances by Aerosmith and George Clinton. Even the Clash is represented with "Should I Stay or Should I Go."
The Clash on a Rugrats sound track. Now that smells funny.
Premiere (US) Laine Ewen 2 stars
Though animated films are still geared mostly toward children, movies like Pixar's recent hit Finding Nemo prove that animated films can attract audiences of all ages. Though Rugrats Go Wild! is a fun flick for children who love Nickelodeon, it does not have the same sort of multigenerational appeal.
Rugrats Go Wild! has all the makings of a good children's movie. Kids love seeing their favorite television characters on the big screen (this is the third cinematic outing for Rugrats, and the second for Thornberrys), and a crossover between these programs should be especially appealing. Kids will probably love the incessant scatological humor, as well. And, as the cherry on top of the icing on top of the 'toon cake, the movie even comes with scratch-and-sniff tickets with scents that correspond to the smells in the movie. Parents, however, might not be quite so enthusiastic. There is a distinct effort made to cater to parents, with occasional nods to movies like Titanic and From Here to Eternity. And the filmmakers did cast the adult-friendly Willis. But while the attempts to appease the parents are valiant, they are a bit forced and half-hearted.
Television-loving children will scream for Rugrats Go Wild!, and in this case, their parents can go ahead and let them -- they won't be missing much.
Quad City Times (Davenport, IA) (Linda Cook) 2 stars
Timing is just about everything. But an unfortunate release date isn't
the only thing wrong with "Rugrats Go Wild!," an average outing in
which the Rugrats bunch teams up with the Wild Thornberrys clan.
There's just not much to this little film. It's not a bad movie, but it feels stretched -- several song-and-dance numbers pad out the already-short running time that's less than an hour and a half. And it's filled with bathroom/body function jokes that are the easiest way for writers to create a "children's film" when they stoop to that lowest common denominator.
Because of its release date, it's bound to be compared to the superb "Finding Nemo" and its intelligent, though-provoking humor with a splendid message for all ages. The Rugrats movie definitely is aimed toward the little folks. Although there are a few nods to other movies that only grownups will appreciate, there's not as much -- pardon the pun -- depth to the Rugrats as there is to "Finding Nemo."
In what is possibly an effort to make the movie more interesting, the film has a partner with Burger King in an oddball resurrection of a decades-old gimmick. If you go to Burger King, you'll get a scratch 'n' sniff card when you buy a children's toy. When a number flashes at the bottom of the screen during the movie, you'll scratch that number on your card and smell the appropriate item.
Even with the gimmick, this is a mediocre show that's anything but wild.
Reel.Com (Tor Thorsen) 3 stars
It was only a matter of time before the Wild Thornberrys and the Rugrats teamed
up on the big screen. The two cartoon series rank only behind Spongebob Squarepants
in popularity, and have helped make the Nickelodeon network one of the cornerstones
of kid's TV. On the big screen, though, the Thornberrys haven't fared as well
as the Rugrats, making a crossover project financially as well as narratively
So why, given its impeccable pedigree, doesn't Rugrats Go Wild! entertain as much as it should? One big reason is the fact it comes just two weeks after Pixar's Finding Nemo. While the latter film's breathtaking visuals raises the bar for computer animation, Rugrats Go Wild! merely reproduces the same flat animation style as its source series. While fine for TV, it seems a little clunky when shown on a 20-foot-high screen.
However, what Rugrats Go Wild! lacks in visual splendor it makes up for in comedic spunk.
Much of the humor comes in the form of booger and poop jokes that will have kids howling and parents grimacing; however, patient adults will be rewarded with numerous sly references to other films, including Titanic, Jaws, and The Poseidon Adventure. Surprisingly, the musical numbers appeal to both age demographics, since they feature kid-style renditions of old folks favorites like The Clash's Should I Stay or Should I Go. Given such sly references and the film's eco-friendly message, it's hard to not enjoy Rugrats Go Wild!, stinky diapers and all.
Ross Anthony's Hollywood Report Card (website) B+
After having enjoyed the first "Rugrats" movie, I (yes, as an adult) actually went out of my way to make this screening. And was I (as an adult) satisfied? quenched even? Or tragically disappointed? Uneventfully, the answer is -- neither.
"Rugrats Go Wild" starts out with a bang of color, movement, music, fun and song, but after the first act, meanders. Though, at times, sweetly sincere, the movie doesn't pack the emotion impact nor the thematic message we're all coming to expect from "movie cartoons."
That said, the picture is never boring and the kids in the theater seemed to be quite engaged. Adults will appreciate the several movie spoof moments from "Titanic" to "Perfect Storm" in poke-funnery image and score. I especially enjoyed the "Piano" rib.
Oh, I was surprised to learn that "Tim Curry" voices the charmingly fumbling Nigel Thornberry, both in film and on TV. Some of you may remember Curry from the not so similar midnight film: "Rocky Horror"
This Rugrats plays like a modern version of "Giligan's Island," but with an extended cast of characters so large it enlists the players from two Saturday morning cartoon programs. Both TV programs, btw, are very well done. I'd caught the Wild Thornberry's a couple of Saturdays during breakfast -- the show impressed me enough that I regretted missing the movie version.
Of note: Spike (the dog) opens his mouth and speaks with a human voice for the first time ever and guess whose human voice he's using? Bruce Willis. Also, fun for the older crowd -- Chrissie Hynde (of Pretenders fame -- you know, "my my my imagination") breaths life into the island's rarely seen white spotted leopard.
Oh, I was all excited about the odorama. But as hard as I scratched and as windily as I sniffed -- I didn't smell nothing more than my fingernail on cardboard.
Sacramento News & Review (Jim Lane)
I guess I'm something of a fence-sitter when it comes to "Rugrats",
the animated series about a gang of diapered toddlers that's been running on
Nickelodeon since 1991. I don't watch the series, though I have nothing against
it; like Charles Schulz's "Peanuts", it's part of a venerable tradition
that goes as far back as the first Our Gang comedies. I enjoyed "The Rugrats
Movie" in 1998, didn't see the second one ("Rugrats in Paris",
2000), and I've never given a second glance to any of the various video editions
that Nickelodeon has pumped out from time to time.
Which brings us to "Rugrats Go Wild", the new theatrical feature. Actually, it's also the new "Wild Thornberrys" movie, too. In a canny - some might even say cynical - piece of cross-promotion, Nickelodeon has combined their two biggest animated hits into one movie by marooning both sets of characters on the same desert island.
The "guest starring" Thornberrys aren't the only gimmick to "Rugrats Go Wild". There's also something called - wait for it - Odorama. In yet another piece of, um, creative marketing synergy, customers who drop by a certain fast-food chain will get a scratch-and-sniff card to take to the movie with them. (The name of the fast food chain is hardly a secret, but I won't name it here. It's silly, I know, but I just hate to encourage this kind of thing.) Take that S&S card to the movie with you, and (it says here) you can "smell" the adventure as well as seeing and hearing it; just wait for a number to flash on the screen, then scratch the same number on the card and sniff it.
I don't think it's giving away too much of the plot to say that the scents on the card are, in order: strawberry, peanut butter, flowers, smelly feet, root beer float, and fish. But it may be giving away more than they want you to know to say that, on my card at least, everything except for the strawberry and (just my luck) the smelly feet smelled exactly like processed cardboard; even knowing what I was supposed to be smelling didn't help.
But then, "Rugrats Go Wild" doesn't give you much time to linger over your scratch-and-sniff card. If anything, the title is only too accurate; the movie rips along like a gasoline fire, screeching and bellowing and piling up gags until it bulges at the seams for every second of its 81 minutes. Even the handful of songs are rattled off in a caffeinated frenzy; like everything in the movie, they're over before we can even start enjoying them. "Rugrats Go Wild" is high-spirited and energetic, but it's also relentless and nerve-wracking, exhausting to sit through.
Directors John Eng and Norton Virgien and writer Kate Boutilier generally pitch their movie at the level of a hyperactive four-year-old, but - by their own lights, at least - they don't neglect the grownups. Tucked neatly in among the poop-and-doody jokes - like tequila shots in an Easter basket - are casual references to old movies and baby-boomer TV shows from "Gone With the Wind" to "Gilligan's Island". It's a strategy that has served well in the past, but here it gets a bit obsessive. Some of the in-jokes, in fact, are just plain bizarre. One in particular is sure to be utterly incomprehensible to anyone under the age of 40. It comes when nasty little Angelica, after some setback or other, turns to us and says, "Years from now, when I write about this - and I will - I "won't" be kind." (It's from 1956's "Tea and Sympathy", if you care.)
Some might call "Rugrats Go Wild" a harmless time-killer. But it doesn't just kill time, it tortures and murders it. And while it's visually inventive and colorful, its real cleverness goes almost unnoticed: it persuades you to plunk down good money to watch nothing more than an 81-minute commercial for Nickelodeon TV.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Ellen Futterman) 2.5 stars
Pack two successful, animated Nickelodeon franchises into one big-screen feature, then seal the deal with still another cross-promotional twist - scratch-and-sniff Odorama cards available at Burger King and Blockbuster.
None of this guarantees the movie will be any good, but who cares when you have an eager, ready-made audience?
Unlike earlier "Rugrats" movies that had an underlying sweetness - such as Chuckie's desire for a mother - this overloaded adventure relies on constant busyness to keep little ones entertained. A lot happens, yet the story is thin, and in the end Tommy's father, Stu Pickles, turns out to be less of a loser than originally thought by the other moms and dads.
Still, there's enough fun stuff to redeem the movie. Bruce Willis, voicing Rugrats dog Spike, injects oomph, though it's basically a one-bark performance (sorry, couldn't help it). Children ages 4 to 7 are likely to cackle at Spike's sniffer-on-the-blink and the babies' mishaps as well as a few too many diaper jokes. And adults should get a kick out of the way numerous pop-culture parodies ("The Poseidon Adventure," "Titanic," "Gilligan's Island") play into the proceedings.
Pop-up numbers in the corner of the screen tell what to scratch off the Odorama cards so that kids can smell the action. I found the gimmick annoying; my 5- and 4-year-old companions thought it was tremendous.
And maybe that difference is what's really telling. They smelled peanut butter, strawberries and stinky feet. Everything I sniffed smelled just like money.
St. Paul Pioneer Press (Chris Hewitt) 2.5 stars
The animation in the new "Rugrats" movie is better than the previous ones, but the story is worse. This is not a good trade-off.
"Rugrats Goes Wild!" unites the characters from the Rugrats with the folks from the excellent, underseen "The Wild Thornberrys" movie and plops them on a deserted island, where it can't figure out what to do with them. The result is a movie that will probably need its marketing gimmick: a scratch-and-sniff strip, available at Burger King, allows viewers to duplicate on-screen smells such as strawberries, stinky feet and peanut butter, although the peanut butter didn't work on my strip.
Something else that doesn't work: extraneous, time-killing musical numbers. The songs are so generic and pointless, their only function is to give you time to escort kids to the bathroom after they finish their Icees in one sitting. A particularly good time to head for the head is whenever Bruce Willis, as "Rugrats" pooch Spike, is singing -- Willis' licking-his-butt tune is bad, but his listless cover of "Lust for Life" is historic in its awfulness.
The movie itself is not awful. Kids and their parents will still like their favorite characters, and there are some clever references to "Lord of the Flies" and "Titanic," as well as a lively scene in which two Type A girls, Angelica Pickles and Debbie Thornberry, have a boss-off.
But none of that can make up for the lack of invention or the feeling that, as one of the characters says, "I feel like this has all happened before."
St. Petersburg Times (Philip Booth) 2 stars
Two Nickelodeon animated shows join forces on the big screen for Rugrats Go Wild! and the sum of the parts is far less enchanting than the funny, beautifully accomplished Pixar/Disney charmer Finding Nemo.
The third theatrical spinoff of Rugrats, and second such venture for The Wild Thornberrys, by comparison is a project with modest ambitions, merely a super-sized version of familiar television fare.
That said, the movie makes a pleasant diversion, sure to appeal to young audiences with its mix of likable tiny-tyke characters, talking animals, silly slapstick and inoffensive gross-out moments. The scratch-and-sniff cards available in kids' meals at Burger King - loaded with whiffs of everything from root beer to smelly feet - are fun, too, though the direct tie-in with a fast-food restaurant is crass, but to be expected, I guess.
And parents and other adult chaperones may be amused by the pop culture touchstones: references to the films Titanic, The Poseidon Adventure, Swiss Family Robinson and Taxi Driver and television's Gilligan's Island and Survivor and rock 'n' rollers the Pretenders, the Clash, the Who, the Police, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Iggy Pop.
The kids at a recent screening seemed interested in the adventure-story aspect of the movie.
But the filmmakers scored their biggest crowd-pleasing moments with sequences involving bug eating, butt baring, bad smells and a standoff between that ferocious big cat (Hynde) and a wily, wisecracking pooch (Bruce Willis); the two engage in a not-bad musical number. Can't wait for the stage show.
Screen It! (parental film website) 5 out of 10
You have to give it to filmmakers who've deployed all sorts of gimmicks onto
moviegoers over the past decades. Whether it's been 3-D, Sensurround or the
wild and varied efforts of William Castle (such as wiring viewers' seats to
deliver small electric shocks), gimmickry has been used in attempts to add something
extra to the moviegoing experience.
One of the attempts that never caught on was utilizing the viewer's olfactory sense. The 1960 film "Scent of Mystery" tried pumping smells into the theater (via "Smell-O-Vision") to coincide with what was occurring on the screen, while John Waters' "Polyester" utilized scratch and sniff cards to do the same. For a variety of reasons, possibly including a rather unpleasant scent during the latter, the addition of smells just didn't catch Hollywood's and/or viewers' fancy.
That apparently didn't deter someone involved with "Rugrats Go Wild," the third animated picture featuring the pint-sized Nickelodeon characters that brings back such interactive cards. The gimmickry doesn't stop there, however (no, the title isn't "Rugrats GONE Wild," although the little ones do occasionally flash their bare tushies).
Rather, co-directors John Eng (making his feature debut) and Norton Virgien ("The Rugrats Movie") and screenwriter Kate Boutilier ("The Wild Thornberrys Movie," "Rugrats in Paris") have deployed the commingled strategy (used in many "Abbott and Costello Meet..." films as well as comic books and various TV shows over the years).
In short, they've mixed the Rugrats with fellow Nick show, "The Wild Thornberrys." Since that show includes a Dr. Dolittle type character, the 3rd gimmick (and one most promoted in the ads) is having none other than actor Bruce Willis voicing the Rugrats pooch, Spike, who up to this point has remained mute.
The latter is probably the most successful of the gimmicks, with Willis ("Tears of the Sun," "Bandits") giving the canine the right touch in terms of personality and vocal delivery. The less successful and surprisingly least used one is the interactive scratch 'n sniff cards.
Large flashing numbers in the corner of the screen instruct kids and others to scratch one of six such spots on their scented cards. The resultant smells do nothing for the film or viewing experience and are simply a marketing ploy since the cards must be picked up a participating burger joint that just so happens to be a promotional partner.
All of which leaves the character combo to carry the picture. If viewers are fans of both shows/movies, they'll likely be in hog heaven, while those who favor one set of characters over the other will still have enough material to satiate them.
Not surprisingly, there's little if any character growth or changes from the norm. With the Rugrats aimed at the younger set and the Thornberrys geared for slightly older viewers (as well as adults), the latter's characters and related story appealed more to me than that of the former that still revolves a great deal around diaper humor.
The filmmakers have been wise to include humor aimed at adults, mainly referring to older movies and TV shows including the obvious "Gilligan's Island" material as well as "Titanic," "Jaws," "The Poseidon Adventure," "Planet of the Apes" and more. Such material is cute and occasionally amusing, but it's never as clever as similar moments in the likes of "Finding Nemo" and pretty much dries up in the second half.
Several musical numbers are also present. While they're not in the same league as what Disney's animated offerings have delivered in the past, they're good and/or lively enough to keep kids (and some adults) entertained through the film's short 80-some minute runtime.
With little plot beyond the sets of characters bumping into each other (resulting in a few moments of peril and/or adventure), the film will appeal most to fans of either or both sets of characters, TV shows and movies.
For everyone else, that combo, along with the addition of Willis' voice and
those scratch 'n sniff cards, might just reek of a desperate attempt to breathe
some new life into both shows. I found "Rugrats Go Wild" marginally
entertaining and thus rate it as a 5 out of 10.
Slant (Ed Gonzalez)
An on-screen collision between the Rugrats and the Thornberrys was inevitable and, for most of its running time, Rugrats Go Wild! successfully exploits a series of run-ins between the two clans.
Perhaps because the film follows so closely on the heels of The Wild Thornberrys Movie, the life-affirming Thornberrys play second fiddle to the Rugrats. Because the Rugrats have always been more subversive than the Thornberrys, this heavy focus in one direction works for the most part. Angelica steals the show, of course... she belts out Joel Hirshhorn and Al Kasha's "The Morning After" (from The Poseidon Adventure) to keep the troops entertained. No other song-and-dance number is anywhere near as good, but they're all pretty easy to forgive considering the ridiculous flashes of absurdity, none more notable than Lil forcing her brother Phil to give up eating bugs (which subsequently forces him to take on a Smeagol-like personality).
The film does lose focus towards the end and kind of putters to a close (a series of underwater scenes may prove to be a little disturbing for younger kids), but there's no offending sermon to talk down to the film's demographic.
The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ) (Stephen Whitty) 2.5 stars
The new Rugrats movie smells like a hit.
Also like a peanut-butter sandwich, an oily sardine, an ice-cream soda and a pair of smelly feet.
"Rugrats Go Wild," their new cartoon adventure, features a number of gimmicks, including animated co-stars from "The Wild Thornberrys" and a newly talking Rugrats dog (voiced by Bruce Willis).
But here's the real something extra: In a throwback to the ballyhooed gimmick films of the '50s (and the 1981 John Waters camp classic, "Polyester"), every movie ticket comes with a scratch-and-sniff card. Numbers flashing on the screen are your cue to go to work, and instantly experience the off-screen aroma of an on-screen peanut-butter sandwich or lush tropical blossom.
Sadly, either my Odorama card wasn't working or my nose had already been numbed by a megaplex full of But-R-Flavored popcorn; I fully inhaled but detected only five olfactory dabs of slick, shiny cardboard. (The one scent that did work well, unfortunately, was the smelly-feet one, which resembled bad blue-cheese dressing.)
The younger nostrils near me seemed to be doing just fine, however. According to the 9- and 5-year-olds I'd brought along, their Odorama cards smelled just terrific -- and the movie didn't stink at all.
Admittedly, older viewers may find it too busy. By now, with a third spinoff from the Nickelodeon series, its creators must be getting a little worried. Like the makers behind the old movie monsters, they feel obligated to add new attractions to draw crowds to every sequel.
Each previous "Rugrats" movie introduced a new character. The new one goes even further, shipwrecking the 'rats and their 'rents -- after a few bad "Poseidon Adventure" and "Gilligan's Island" gags -- on a jungle island. Where, of course, they immediately meet up with Nickelodeon's other animated family, the Thornberrys, hard at work on yet another nature documentary.
The combination makes sense, commercially, but is a little overwhelming in practicality -- counting the Thornberrys' talking monkey and the rugrats' wiseacre canine, the characters now crowd two dozen. By the time the movie has divided them among three or four subplots and added some forgettable songs, your eyes may be as glazed as your kids' caramel-nut clusters.
All this extra business tends to overwhelm the cartoons' original charms. The fun of the original "Rugrats" 'toons was that Tommy Pickles and his half-pint friends only imagined they were in danger as they play-acted pirates or lion-tamers; the charms of the "Thornberrys" show included some fairly real sibling dynamics.
The new plot, however, quickly puts the Rugrats kids in real danger, thereby losing the series' original daydream quality. The Thornberrys' sweet sense of family is downplayed too, and although their last adventure boasted a touching Paul Simon song, this one spotlights a throwaway novelty number, "Big Bad Cat," sung by guests Willis and Chrissie Hynde.
To be fair, there are still a few good jokes here for the adults, and plenty of gags for the children (although sensitive souls should be forewarned: the quotient of potty jokes is pretty high). The faux-naif character drawings are fine, and the backgrounds are pleasant. All in all, the hour-and-a-half passes quickly -- probably a lot more quickly than sitting through "Finding Nemo" for a third or fourth time.
This is still, however, not much more than a TV episode writ large -- and probably best strictly as a something-to-do stopgap before the "Sinbad" cartoon opens next month.
Sympatico (Angela Baldassarre) 3 stars
While the Rugrats are a tad too babyish for this critic's taste, the wonderfully eclectic Thornberrys are exciting and original. Pitted together in Rugrats Go Wild!, they compliment each other well, especially for the very young viewers who will be mesmerized by the colourful animation.
...the story isn't particularly exciting. No matter. The kids at the screening I attended were engrossed and entertained. Ultimately that's the only thing that matters.
The Tampa Tribune (Jeff Houck) B-
...the characters lend themselves better to half-hour TV doses than to full-length films. And when you consider that there are 22 characters in the film after both shows' casts are combined, even 85 minutes aren't enough to give each one decent screen time.
Still, this is a cute, entertaining movie that improves on the formula used in "The Rugrats Movie," "Rugrats in Paris" and "The Wild Thornberrys Movie."
It might seem to be a new premise to merge two animated casts, but "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" employed the gimmick 15 years ago with Disney and Warner Brothers characters. And even before that, the Scooby Doo gang frolicked with the Saturday morning cartoon version of The Harlem Globetrotters.
Still, it's fun to see Rugrat Chucky meet his jabbering Thornberry alter-ego Donnie in a scene that mimics the classic Lucy and Harpo shadow act from "I Love Lucy." Bratty and spoiled Angelica Pickles matches up well with snotty teen Debbie Thornberry.
And it's fun to hear the voice of Bruce Willis come out of the "Rugrats" dog, Spike. It's one of the few performances that stands out among the 22 characters in the film.
There are lots of jokes for adults ... everything from "Titanic" to "Gilligan's Island" and "The Poseidon Adventure" gets a poke in the ribs. And the obligatory pop songs wedged into the film's soundtrack (Willis does a nice job with Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life") aren't nearly as annoying as those in past "Rugrats" films.
If the movie is successful, who knows where it could lead. Maybe next time Nick execs will get really creative and match "The Ren & Stimpy Show" with "CatDog."
Toronto Star (Daphne Gordon) 2 stars
When moviemakers turn to television series for big screen material, the result is usually boring and one-dimensional. But in the case of Rugrats Go Wild, the end product is surprisingly engaging, thanks at least in part to a pair of very stinky feet.
The animated movie is supplemented with a cool "odorama" card that allows viewers to take part in the movie by scratching and sniffing the card in sync with the action. Peanut butter, sea breeze and stinky feet are among the fragrances that waft from the card at moments specified by on-screen cues that indicate which numbered smell to scratch.
The scents all kind of smell the same to an adult nose, but still, kids at a recent promotional screening clearly got off on the gimmick, scratching their cards eagerly even when the promised odour was decidedly gross.
...Spike finally has a voice, and Bruce Willis is it. Spike takes a starring role here, with the strongest scene in the movie involving a musical number shared by Willis and rocker Chrissie Hynde, who, in an inspired bit of casting, brilliantly voices Siri, a sinister and slinky leopard.
Willis can actually sing, and he belts it out again in a version of the song "Lust For Life."
A strong point of previous Rugrats movies has been their soundtracks, and Go Wild, the third feature about the baby brigade, is no exception. The Clash's classic "Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now?" and a remake of everybody's favourite Police song, "Message In A Bottle" by the band American Hi-Fi, provide a slightly gritty feel for a film that would otherwise seem too cute.
While a film starring babies risks being boring and small, screenwriter Kate Boutilier makes references to successful live action films such as Titanic, the classic Disney film Swiss Family Robinson and The Abyss by building her plot around dramatic events borrowed from those films, starting with a suspenseful shipwreck, moving on to an attempt to survive on a deserted island, and culminating in an underwater scene in which the Rugrats get trapped in submarine capsule and nearly run out of oxygen.
Rugrats Go Wild does manage to sustain some suspense, but it's clearly aimed at very young audiences. Tweens, teens and adults will be bored.
Tulsa World (Dennis King) 2
Fans of Nickleodeon's artfully crude cartoon shows, "The Rugrats"
and "The Wild Thornberrys," will get a double dose of quirky whimsy
from "Rugrats Go Wild," a patched-together big-screen partnership
between the precocious toddlers of the former and the intrepid explorer family
of the latter.
The adventure is filled with plenty of requisite poop-and-booger jokes, wildlife high jinks, slightly naughty physical gags and show-tune musical interludes rooted in childhood innocence and mischievousness.
Those are blended with one-liners, hip cultural references and allusions to classic films that are obviously aimed over the heads of kids and directly at adults chaperoning gaggles of young ones to the multiplex.
While the Rugrats' frolicking gets the lions share of attention, the Thornberrys pair off nicely with their younger co-stars and provide their share of wild laughs. But for the most part this odd pairing of hit shows smacks heavily of calculated marketing synergy engineered by the corporate suits at Nickleodeon and Paramount.
Missing is the sense of spontaneous fun and gentle innocence that have made the TV shows cult favorites and award winners. Nowhere is this more obvious than in a dubious marketing gimmick involving so-called "Odorama" -- scratch-and-sniff cards available at certain big-box stores and fast-food establishments that can be carried into theaters for an added olfactory kick.
The S&S cards -- containing swatches of strawberry, peanut butter, flowers, smelly feet, root beer float and stinky fish odors to be scratched when a corresponding number appears on screen -- are an idea "borrowed" from John Waters' 1981 comedy "Polyester," a fact that has reportedly put producers at odds with Waters' trademark lawyers. (Never mind that all the odors seem to smell of stale cardboard.)
Be that as it may, "Rugrats Go Wild" works just well enough without the gimmick to satisfy very young, very undemanding fans, thanks to the goodwill that series creators Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo have established with their unique brand of weirdly angular animation, eccentric characters and socially astute storytelling.
Directors John Eng and Norton Virgien and writer Kate Boutilier add very little that's fresh or worthy of big-screen treatment in this, the fourth cinema outing for the Klasky/Csupo inventions.
"Rugrats Go Wild" in pretty tame stuff indeed. And a little tired and greedy, too.
The following critics don't approve of the film, as they claim the film has
little or no merit.
Akron (OH) Beacon-Journal (George Thomas) 2 stars
Had Rugrats Go Wild been released further removed from Finding Nemo it may have been far more enjoyable. Then again, maybe not.
Ultimately, it isn't fair to compare this animated feature from Nickelodeon to the Nemo instant classic, but you cannot help but feel as if you've wasted your time after watching this movie.
The ingredients appear to be there -- a raucous and rowdy adventure, characters that remain true to their TV origins, and there's even something for the adults to enjoy as Bruce Willis lends his smart-aleck talents to voice The Rugrats'faithful pooch, Spike.
But there's also something missing -- heart. Rugrats Go Wild lacks the very basic ingredient that made The Rugrats Movie and The Rugrats in Paris so enjoyable.
It sacrifices the human aspect of the story for the sake of out- and-out mayhem. And some of the problem comes from the creators of cable's most popular animated series trying to serve two series in one film because this romp features another Nickelodeon 'toon family -- the Thornberrys from The Wild Thornberrys.
In an effort to get all of the characters significant screen time, coherence meets chaos, and the result isn't pretty.
Sure it's fun when Eliza Thornberry, a pre-teen who can talk to animals, meets Spike and the canine gets to spout Willis' cocky dialogue. And pairing The Rugrats' incredibly obnoxious Angelica with Eliza's equally annoying sister Debbie offers a few laughs.
But it's as if screenwriter Kate Boutilier and directors John Eng and Norton Virgien forgot the essence of what made each series successful.
The first Rugrats film showed that non-Disney animated features had a place in America's theaters. Unfortunately, the makers of Rugrats Go Wild forgot that. The animation looks dated and the story is yawn inducing. As a whole, the flick plays as one long commercial for a soundtrack that features a wretched remake of a Police song -- Message in a Bottle -- that no one should ever remake. This movie romp could've been contained on the small screen and would have proved more enjoyable. In an era when animators have upped the ante, Rugrats Go Wild feels somewhat out of place.
Tommy is at the mercy of Nickelodeon executives, who apparently thought that ramming their two animated franchises together would score their biggest audience yet for a feature film.
The worst thing about "Rugrats Go Wild" is that the Rugrats have dragged the Thornberrys down into the diaper bag with them. "The Wild Thornberrys" is by far the classier and more inventive of the franchises, as evidenced by last December's "The Wild Thornberrys Movie," which bubbled over with charm and flair.
"Rugrats Go Wild" caught none of that excess charm, and it subjects the Thornberrys to the surfeit of talk about poopy diapers and other puerile subjects that are the Rugrats' domain. This is gross-out humor pitched to kids barely old enough to know what's gross and what isn't.
To that end, the filmmakers have revived Odorama, a sensory-enhancement gimmick pioneered by John Waters for "Polyester," his 1981 saga of suburban malaise. Scratch-and-sniff cards are handed out to audiences, and when a number flashes at the bottom of the screen, you're invited to sniff the corresponding icon on the cards.
Most of the smells seem pleasant enough, like a strawberry and a root beer float. The card does include a stinky foot, but have no fear, because everything on the card smells basically the same: like cheap detergent.
As an 85-minute feature weighed down with about 20 speaking roles and some tune-impaired musical numbers, "Rugrats Go Wild" struggles mightily to keep everything afloat. The premise is that the Rugrats' supercilious yuppie parents think they're going on a luxurious cruise, but instead they end up on a rickety boat that sinks, stranding them on an uninhabited island where the Thornberrys happen to be searching for a rare leopard.
Everybody gets mixed up and lost and separated, seemingly circling the island again and again as they search for each other. Screenwriter Kate Boutilier and directors John Eng and Norton Virgien provide neither a coherent structure nor crisp animation to these adventures; the look of the movie, like the progress of the plot, is cluttered, chaotic and slapdash.
Bruce Willis lends some energy as the voice of Spike, the Rugrats' dog, who like all animals can converse with 12-year-old Eliza Thornberry. But nearly all Spike's dialogue has to do with some kind of odor or bodily function.
Kids, parents: Stay away from this one. The Thornberrys and the Rugrats have seen better days. Don't worry: The SpongeBob SquarePants movie is coming next year.
Arizona Daily Star (Tucson) (Phil Villarreal)
There's one thing parents need to know when deciding whether or not to
take the tykes to "The Rugrats Go Wild:" Is it better than a second
viewing of "Finding Nemo?"
The distressing answer, which becomes ever clearer the longer "The Rugrats Go Wild" rolls, is no. Gosh, no. In terms of entertainment value, animation quality and story, little Nemo could slap this movie around with that withered "lucky fin" of his.
This kiddie flick, a crossover between two popular shows spawned by Nickelodeon, seems to be nothing but a half-hearted cash grab.
Taken separately, both the Rugrats and Thornberrys have genuine appeal. "Rugrats" shows routinely skewer self-important adults, and "The Wild Thornberrys" are all about environmental appreciation and conservation.
Together, though, they're only about fluffy, forgettable slapstick.
The cartoon crossover has a precedent. There was a 1987 TV movie "The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones," a fine, fun movie that the filmmakers knew wasn't worth the multiplex prices. "The Rugrats Gone Wild" isn't worthy either, and would have been much better suited as a TV special. That way, the big wigs could have hit up the advertisers to try for big cash, instead sticking it to the viewing audience.
The animators toss in some parentally-aimed references to films such as "The Perfect Storm," "Duck Soup" and "Titanic," but those seem like mere tokens to pacify grown-ups in between booger and bird-poop jokes.
Kids should enjoy "The Rugrats Go Wild," but no more so than the mid-afternoon "Rugrats" episodes. The onus is on the moviemakers to give parents a reason to shell out extra bucks to see this in the theater. All they could come up with was Willis and "Odorama."
The "Odorama" concept: munchkins hold a number-coded scratch-and-sniff card throughout the film, then, tipped off by corresponding numbers appearing onscreen every ten or so minutes, sniffing the card to experience what the characters on screen are smelling, such as peanut butter and stinky feet.
The program bares the same name as the gimmick used in John Waters' "Polyester" (1981). So similar, in fact, that Waters has threatened to sue. The cards are available in Burger King kids' meals, but most theater owners have agreed to give them out along with the tickets.
Adults won't need a scratch-card to sniff what's in the air: the stink of a shoddy cartoon movie.
BBC (Neil Smith) 2 stars
The new Rugrats movie - the third, just in case you were counting - certainly pulls out all the stops in its attempts to hold the attention of its hyperactive target audience.
Not only does it team its nappy-wearing heroes with the stars of another kiddies' TV show, The Wild Thornberrys (thus populating the screen with twice as many gap-toothed, cornstalk-limbed, big-headed freaks). It also uses John Waters' old scratch-and-sniff 'Odorama' gimmick to enable punters to smell various aromas (flowers, strawberries, an infant's feet) at the same time the characters do.
However, unless you're a Nickelodeon executive or a six-year-old who's never heard of Pixar, you'll be fervently hoping such desperate tactics signal the end of this tiresome spin-off franchise.
Since Nigel's daughter Eliza (Lacey Chabert) has a Dr Dolittle-style ability to talk to animals, we finally find out what Rugrats pooch Spike sounds like. The bad news is he sounds precisely like Bruce Willis.
Still, the dog's lame wisecracks and some sly nods to "Cast Away", "The Perfect Storm", and "Planet of the Apes" provide a little respite from the sub-standard animation and a screenplay that trots out sentimental homilies on the importance of friendship and family like they're going out of fashion.
Baltimore Sun (Chris Kaltenbach)
The people responsible for Rugrats Go Wild have seen a ton of movies, and seem to believe that's worth bragging about. How else to explain the numerous cinematic references that work their way into this latest big-screen manifestation of the diaper-obsessed Nickelodeon franchise? In less than 90 minutes, Rugrats includes homages to Planet of the Apes, Lord of the Flies, Tea and Sympathy, From Here to Eternity, Titanic, The Poseidon Adventure, Polyester, Cast Away, Doctor Dolittle, The Jungle Book, even Gilligan's Island. There were assuredly more, but after a while, it's hard to keep caring.
And there's the central problem with Rugrats. Its pleasures are slight and fleeting, and so many movies have done what it does, and done it much better, that there's nothing to get even remotely excited about - much less to draw audiences into theaters. After all, anyone who's a Rugrats fan can catch them for free daily on cable, where the crude animation, potty humor (we get to see several Rugrats' bare behinds) and subsistence-level charm don't constitute such a letdown.
New voices on Rugrats Go Wild belong to Bruce Willis (as the Pickles' dog, Spike, who's better seen than heard) and Chrissie Hynde as an evil leopard with a developing taste for babies. Neither exactly saves the movie, but recognizing who they are provides at least a momentary thrill.
On the small screen, Rugrats Go Wild would be just fine, especially since it would have to be trimmed to fit into a half-hour time slot; kids who love this stuff would be all smiles, and parents could leave the room. But movie animation has come so far in recent years - Shrek, Lilo & Stitch, Spirited Away, Finding Nemo - that simply enlarging what works on TV doesn't cut it anymore. And while the first few movie references seem clever and diverting, it soon becomes apparent what they really are - acts of desperation, attempts to make something out of very little.
Charlotte Observer (Lawrence Toppman)
Combining franchises is a sign of desperation in a movie studio. When Frankenstein loses his luster, he's tossed in with Dracula. (Or the Three Stooges.) When nobody cares about the "Nightmare on Elm Street" or "Halloween" series, someone produces "Freddy vs. Jason" to squeeze the last pennies from the audience.
Now comes "Rugrats Go Wild," the third animated installment for the Rugrats and the second for the Wild Thornberrys. There's no reason this pairing from the Klasky Csupo studio shouldn't continue forever, with sequels ground out like sausages. Hey -- maybe the Wolfman could make a cameo appearance!
After all, these all have the same stories: Kids are put in jeopardy by sinister or incompetent adults, then team up with parents to rescue themselves. And won't it be eternally funny to hear diaper gags every five minutes?
"Rugrats Go Wild," which plays like a TV episode drawn out past the point of enduring, is the weakest of the four films by far. It's an uncoordinated, flailing hodgepodge of music videos, chases, crashes and moronic plot twists. (In one scene, the Rugrats don't realize that Chucky, their daily companion, has been replaced by Donnie Thornberry, whose hair is a different hue and who speaks no English!)
Kate Boutilier's script is so slipshod that she introduces only one charismatic character, a sinuous, carnivorous leopard named Siri (voiced by Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders). The story hangs on whether Spike the dog (voiced by Bruce Willis) and Eliza Thornberry, who can speak to animals (Lacey Chabert), will rescue the runaway Rugrats from Siri. But Siri gets forgotten among the bathysphere accidents, the sinking of an SUV and Nigel Thornberry's amnesia. (He's hit on the head by a coconut, which stopped being clever circa "Gilligan's Island.") The leopard literally walks off to lunch on the kids and is never heard from again.
A certain number of burp and poop jokes are inevitable in movies aimed at elementary schoolers today, but this film was crass enough to earn a PG instead of the usual G for animation. It's an uninspired barrage of boogers, butt-sniffing, wedgies and, when all else fails, stinky diapers. (Some jokes, which I can't repeat here, are remarkably distasteful.)
But why change a brainlessly marketable formula when your audience demands
no better? As one character remarks, "This is very strange: I feel like
this has happened before." It has indeed. And it'll happen again and again.
Chicago Sun Times (Roger Ebert) 2 stars; "Thumbs Down" on Ebert & Roeper
The Rugrats meet the Thornberrys in "Rugrats Go Wild" a merger of the two popular Nickelodeon franchises that confirms our suspicion that Angelica Pickles can shout down anybody, even Debbie Thornberry. The movie has so much shouting, indeed so much noise in general, that I pity parents who will have to listen to it again and again and again after the DVD comes home and goes into an endless loop. The most persuasive argument for the animation of Hayao Miyazaki is that it's sometimes quiet and peaceful.
I sat watching the movie and was at a loss for an entry point. Certainly this is not a film an adult would want to attend without a child; unlike "Finding Nemo," for example, it doesn't play on two levels, but just on one: shrill nonstop action. That doesn't mean it lacks humor and charm, just that it pitches itself on the level of the Nickelodeon show instead of trying to move it beyond the target audience.
That's what I think, anyway, but as an adult am I qualified to judge this film? Not long ago I (and 80 percent of the other critics in America) disliked Eddie Murphy's "Daddy Day Care," only to be reprimanded by Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today, who wrote a column saying we critics were out of touch because he went with his children, ages 5-12, and they liked it.
I offered Mr. Neuharth a list of a dozen other films his kids would probably like infinitely more, and that also would perhaps challenge and enlighten them, instead of simply bludgeoning them with sitcom slapstick. But on the off chance he was right, I took my grandsons Emil, age 9, and Taylor, age 5, along with me to "Rugrats Go Wild!," and afterward asked them to rate it on a scale of one to 10.
They both put it at five. "Not as much fun as the TV show," said Emil. "Angelica didn't get to do as much funny stuff." What did they think about the Pickles family meeting the Thornberrys? They were unmoved, not to say indifferent.
My own feeling is that the film is one more assault on the notion that young American audiences might be expected to enjoy films with at least some subtlety and depth and pacing and occasional quietness. The filmmakers apparently believe their audience suffers from ADD, and so they supply breakneck action and screaming sound volumes at all times. That younger viewers may have developed ADD from a diet of this manic behavior on television is probably a fruitful field for study.
Note: The movie is presented in "Odorama." At most screenings, including the one I attended, audience members are given scratch-'n-sniff cards with six scents, keyed to numbers that flash on the screen. We can smell strawberries, peanuts, tuna fish, etc. Scratching and sniffing, I determined that the root beer smells terrific, but the peanut butter has no discernible smell at all. The kids around me seemed pretty underwhelmed by this relic from the golden age of exploitation, which was last used by John Waters with his "Polyester" (1981).
ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture Red Light
It's happening. As PG-13 movies have sunk slowly into the R stratum, this PG movie is clearly equivalent to PG-13 movies in the CAP comparative baseline database of movies. Even if I could I would not massage the numbers to make the movie's score or the credibility of the CAP analysis model any better in your eyes. Even the audience made its claim on the ugliness of this movie. The appropriate age stratum laughed only twice throughout the whole show. While the show is an action- and peril-packed outing for the younger adolescents, it is sometimes harsh and abrasive in many ways to wholesome values and ethics. And who said body function/fluid toilet humor is acceptable? Rugrats Go Wild is a nose-in-the-air to the manners mother taught you.
This 74 minute animated movie puts Buggs Bunny [sic] and Road Runner violence to shame. Toddlers are repeatedly attacked by predators (with no harm, of course), action violence at sea and peril at sea plus great falls push the limits of acceptable let alone the limits of wise. But this new installment in the Rugrats/Thornberrys franchise of Nickelodeon also pushes the sexual limits by presenting one of the mothers removing her skirt to enable her to swim better. If this were not challenging of the threshold of acceptability, why would the writers have the woman's husband hold his hand over the eyes of another man when the woman took her skirt off? Additional programming bordering sexual was the Thornberry's teenage daughter in positions and dress that clearly indicate attempts at portraying sensuality. And some of the music score was about as acidic and conducive to arrogance/impudence as I have ever heard. If this movie was pristine, it wouldn't have been rated PG.
Am I being extreme in pointing these matters out to you? Are they really harmless or is such programming the "age-appropriate" version of stealing childhood from children? Is such behavior, even in animation to be held as the standard for our same-aged children?
There is far too much danger and peril and worldliness to make this an enjoyable cartoon.
City Pages (Minneapolis) (Joshua Rothkopf)
...Go Savage! is more like it. Unless you're hopelessly in love with everything that comes out of your toddler's mouth (and elsewhere), the strained crudity of this base kids' picture will be lost on you, if not on the caca-obsessed sensibilities of the target audience, sure to reward you with the behavior you so richly deserve. Here, the anatomically distended spawn of the title are shipwrecked on a desert island with the pith-helmeted Wild Thornberrys (who deserve higher billing or a better agent); buried among the mystifying references to Taxi Driver, Jaws, and Jurassic Park is an unearned message about heroic parents. You can be heroic, too, by resisting this movie. Otherwise, brace yourself for all the bug-eating and diaper-picking you can stand, as well as some truly enraging appropriations of (I kid you not) the Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" and Iggy Pop's "Lust For Life." The requisite celebrity voice talent includes Bruce Willis as a talking dog named Spike, "putting the poo in pooch." Yes, the whole thing is like that.
Denver Post (Michael Booth) 2 stars
Beware of Smellyvision from a movie that prides itself on discussing poopy
Good thing the scratch-and- sniff cards that accompany "Rugrats Go Wild" are completely ineffective. In a movie full of dog snot, diaper-stored breakfast waffles and baby foot stink, a successful Smellyvision campaign could sicken even the most hardened audience of parents and their odoriferous offspring.
If the first couple of "Rugrats" movies were endearing simply for extending the offbeat TV franchise to the summer movie circuit, the third installment may finally be wearing out the welcome. The preschool animation for "Rugrats Go Wild" is pre-prehensile, the action sequences are subtraction by addition, and even the children in the audience will complain about the excessive potty humor by the movie's close.
Nor does the much-publicized twist of Bruce Willis as the voice of family dog Spike pay off in the execution. When Spike breaks into song, it may make you nostalgic for a Seagram's golden wine cooler, or at least the alcohol therein.
The latest "Rugrats" means to pump up the Nickelodeon franchise by combining forces with "The Wild Thornberrys," a cartoon about a family traveling to exotic locales to film nature specials. In "Rugrats Go Wild," the Rugrats parents, whose adventures usually mirror those of their precocious children, decide to take their families on a vacation cruise. But Stu cheaps out and charters his own rustbucket for the "cruise," and never was a prop more destined for sinking.
They wreck on a desolate island, where the Thornberrys are, of course, filming a special in search of a rare leopard. Jungle scenes give the animators a chance to shoot for a low-rent "Lion King," a challenge made more difficult by the poor quality of their marking pens.
For adults, the best parts of the Rugrats movies are always the allusions to other movies, and "Go Wild" at least delivers for this key driving-age demographic. Bossy Angelica and her favorite karaoke doll do a passable Kate Winslet on the bow of the rusty scupper; the wave they encounter is a decent copy of "The Perfect Storm," and the families constantly threaten to devolve into "Lord of the Flies."
As Angelica would say, though, "that's not the worstest part." Occasional baby songs are crammed in like another dessert on a cruise buffet, and we can only be grateful there's no scratch-and-sniff assignment for toddler Phil's dialogue: "Who's going to help me plant my booger farm?" And in a movie filled with mediocre music from the former Devo brainiac Mark Mothersbaugh, any parent paying attention will get diaper rash at the gratuitous use of a real Clash song during an action sequence.
Will "Rugrats" entertain the children for more than an hour on a lazy summer afternoon? Your "Go Wild" experience is not likely to be a teachable moment in the manner of "Finding Nemo." But they will enjoy Tim Curry as the voice of twaddle-wrapped Nigel Thornberry, and Angelica's unredeemed bossiness makes a great villain.
The children will not likely flee and try to drive themselves home. But you
may need extra snacks. The root beer float on the scratch-and-sniff card just
won't cut it.
Detroit Free Press (John Monaghan) 2 stars
In "Rugrats Go Wild," Tommy Pickles and his baby brigade invade an uncharted island with predictably frenzied results.
While they wrestle with leopards, eat caterpillars and swing on the tails of snakes, they also jump the shark in the third big-screen outing based on their popular Nickelodeon TV show.
Young children, especially, will love the frenetic pace, though some may feel overwhelmed. Like an overpacked minivan, the movie is weighed down by too much stuff, including a boatload of characters that barely have time to develop.
Where the earlier "Rugrats" movies had a unique and quirky point of view, this one strictly follows formula. Everything seems obligatory, from the dirty-diaper and booger jokes to the closing message about the importance of quality time with family.
Adults who were once charmed by the these movies' knowing nods about parenting will have to settle instead for tired "Perfect Storm" references, pop retreads of Clash and Police songs and butt-sniffing one-liners from Bruce Willis as the family mutt Spike.
If blending the Thornberrys and Rugrats franchises wasn't gimmick enough, the movie employs scratch-and-sniff cards. When a number appears in the corner of the screen, you're supposed to scratch the cards for whiffs of everything from peanut butter to dirty feet. But it all ends up smelling like a cheap magazine perfume ad.
"Rugrats Go Wild" doesn't exactly stink. Consider it instead -- because the first two movies in the franchise were so good -- a victim of high expectations.
In Hollywood, two plus two doesn't always equal four. Here's a Paramount example: Take the successful Rugrats franchise, add the jungle-lovin' Wild Thornberrys characters, and you end up with a whole lot less than the sum of its parts. After Rugrat dad Stu Pickles inadvertently shipwrecks his family, they end up stranded on a deserted island and go native with the Thornberrys. While there are plenty of takeoffs on films like The Poseidon Adventure, Titanic and Cast Away, none of it catches on. (Do kids know these films anyway?) Worse yet, the packed cast of characters clamors for attention. And when Bruce Willis (voicing Spike the dog) starts belting tunes out with a canine flair, you'll be howling at the moon for it to stop. Maybe kids will enjoy playing along with the gimmicky scratch-and-sniff component of the film, but overall, this one's mostly a stinker.
Ebert & Roeper (Richard Roeper) "Thumbs Down"
(See above for Roger Ebert's review.)
...this is harmless entertainment for very young children. Everyone else though, will be wriggling in their seats like 2-year-olds with wet diapers.
Ft. Worth Star-Telegram (Scott Von Doviak) 2 stars
Two Nickelodeon franchises collide in Rugrats Go Wild!, which unites the chatty toddlers of Rugrats with that family of roving nature documentarians The Wild Thornberrys. In theory, this momentous team-up should produce twice the fun. In practice, it's merely twice as obnoxious and shrill.
Rugrats Go Wild! may not set any box office records, but it's got the dubious title of "Most Diaper Jokes Crammed Into an 80-Minute Running Time" all sewn up. That won't matter to younger viewers who can't get enough doodie humor, but parents will have to settle for numerous pop culture references if they expect to be entertained at all (Titanic, Gilligan's Island and Lord of the Flies are all parodied). The movie's frenetic pace allows none of the regular characters to shine, and the animation is no great shakes, either. The whole package practically screams "straight to video."
It's worth mentioning that Rugrats Go Wild! is being presented in Odorama. At certain points during the film -- for instance, when a character's stinky feet are unveiled -- a number flashes on the screen, prompting viewers to scratch and sniff that number on special cards that have been provided. Unfortunately, I cannot attest to the accuracy of these scents or the added enjoyment they may bring to the film, as these cards were not provided at the advance screening I attended.
LA Weekly (Ella Taylor)
Wild because the Rugrats get to hang out with the Wild Thornberrys, who are much more fun than they. And wild because directors Norton Virgien and John Eng appear to have dedicated themselves to grooming a nation of tots for lifelong action-pic addiction. Father Stu Pickles takes the Rugrat family on a cruise, where they hit a 40-foot wall of water and land on a desert island populated only by earnest Thornberrys (Tim Curry, as the 'splorer Sir Cedric (sic) Thornberry, kept me awake) and an unpleasant leopard nicely voiced by Chrissie Hynde. In the absence of a story you could care about, there are piles of loud, frantic plot, and the added attraction of Bruce Willis voicing the Rugrats' dog, Spike, who speaks for the first time while setting examples for everyone to pull together for the common good. Parents are kept in their seats with volleys of random movie references, while the kids get scratch-'n'-sniff cards fragrant with peanut butter and smelly feet. Paramount Pictures proudly informs us that the PG rating is for "mild, crude humor." Too mild, too crude by far. If I were you, I'd take the wee ones and run for the vastly superior Finding Nemo.
Las Vegas Mercury (Tammy
McMahan) 2 stars
Imagine how frustrated children feel when they struggle to understand a sometimes bewildering, complex world and express their thoughts on it to adults. Ponder too the beauty of their ability to be happy, carefree and silly despite parental neuroses and the real dangers out there. Adults can rarely relate this dichotomy in a thoughtful and comic fashion.
Rugrats Go Wild, the third big-screen spinoff from Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo's popular Nickelodeon animated series (after The Rugrats Movie and Rugrats in Paris) seems less like an inspired reflection of kiddie angst and joy than a marketing ploy with mostly Farrelly brothers-lite humor and occasional bits of cleverness.
Unlike Disney's Lilo & Stitch, in which the child character was richly rendered as a well-meaning, inquisitive misfit attempting to make sense of things, Rugrats Go Wild screenwriter Kate Boutilier presents stale caricatures who pick their noses, eat bugs and moon each other as they explore their tropical environs and escape various predicaments.
The film's few fresh, endearing moments involve the Thornberrys, who offer a quirky mix of environmental consciousness, British wit, Valley Girl quips and wild child abandon. So the best advice is to skip this celluloid Rugrats rubbish and go wild with the televised Thornberrys instead.
Long Island Newsday (Gene Seymour) 3 stars
The world would have continued to revolve on its axis. Life as we know it would have stumbled along without any noticeable interruption in its grand, enigmatic design. Everything would have been just aces, in other words, if Tommy Pickles and his diaper-clad "Rugrats" gang had kept on waddling around their backyard and never met the wacky Thornberry family on the other side of the world.
But after the dismal financial showing of last year's wonderfully winsome "Wild Thornberrys Movie," somebody somewhere must have figured that Nickelodeon's two most venerable animated franchises needed to pool their resources if they were ever going to have a big-screen future.
The result, "Rugrats Go Wild," is like a play date that gets so totally out of hand, you just throw up your hands and just wait for everyone to go home. In 2000's "Rugrats in Paris," the winking references to other movies pleasingly helped adults occupy their minds. Here, they seem as calculated and gratuitous as the scratch-and-sniff cards that will be given out to everyone who comes to the theater.
No, this is not - alas - a joke. Every time a number flashes on the screen, the audience goes to the number on the card and scratches the relevant image. Among the selected scents: a strawberry, an ice-cream float, a fish and the bottom of a foot. Guess which one is the strongest. No, don't bother. The kids will let you know.
Several crises happen at once, but they all somehow are unraveled, thanks largely
to Tommy's faithful dog, Spike, who is allowed to speak here with Bruce Willis'
voice. Fans of Spike - they must be legion! - will be happy he saves the day,
though neither he nor Willis can save the movie.
The New York Times (Dave Kehr)
When studios start cross-breeding their franchises, it's usually a good sign that the properties involved are slowing down. It was true when Abbott and Costello met Frankenstein in 1948, and it is true today, as the Rugrats -- the lovable gang of animated toddlers from the long-running Nickelodeon cable series -- meet the Wild Thornberrys, a family of world explorers whose adventures are also documented on Nickelodeon.
The film, directed by Norton Virgien and John Eng, is titled "Rugrats Go Wild," though perhaps a bit of exaggeration has crept in there. "Rugrats Quietly Go About Their Business as Usual" would be a more accurate if less elegant title for this minimally animated film...
The suspense sequences in "Rugrats Go Wild," which opens nationwide today, are intense enough to have earned the film a PG rating. But even with the filmmakers winking references to movies as diverse as "Tea and Sympathy" and "Duck Soup," there is little here to hold the attention of anyone older than 9. For families in search of entertainment, it may be time to find Nemo again.
Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL) (Jeffrey Westhoff)
When the Scooby-Doo gang met Josie and the Pussycats, it rated an episode of "The New Scooby-Doo Movies."
When the Flintstones met the Jetsons, it rated a syndicated television movie.
But when the Rugrats meet the Wild Thornberrys, that's major news. That rates a feature film that should send Nickelodeon fans into cartoon heaven.
"Rugrats Go Wild" is the third film to feature the "Rugrats" cast and the second for "The Wild Thornberrys." Both Nickelodeon shows originate with Klasky-Csupo animation studio, and the company's creative team was wise to give those previous features emotional payoffs.
"Rugrats Go Wild" is too busy mixing and matching characters to find time to beef up its attempted moral about family togetherness. The story is giddy and frantic and good for some laughs, but it misses the sweetness the Rugrats and Thornberrys have delivered before.
Eliza Thornberry, who can talk to animals, and her chimpanzee Darwin run into Tommy's dog, Spike, who immediately gains Bruce Willis' voice. Willis has great fun with his part without allowing his recognizable voice to overwhelm Spike's well-established quirks. He also sings a catchy duet with Pretenders' vocalist Chrissie Hynde, who plays the hungry leopard.
Even though Eliza is the principal character on "Wild Thornberrys," she doesn't do much here besides explain the premise of her show to Spike. The Thornberrys pretty much get blown out of the water by standard "Rugrats" humor, including many pop culture jokes. The best comes after the boat capsizes and Angelica belts out "The Morning After," also known as the theme to "The Poseidon Adventure."
Unfortunately the filmmakers go wild once freed of TV censors. The script grows thick with gross jokes about bird poop, the contents of Chuckie's diapers and those things hanging out of baby Phil's nose.
There's the problem with "Rugrats Go Wild": Too many boogers, not enough heart.
People (Leah Rosen)
Nickelodeon crams characters from its kiddie TV shows, Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys, into one crowded, forgettable cartoon feature.
The best jokes play off popular culture, with refrrences to A Perfect Storm and Gilligan's Island.
The Salt Lake Tribune (Sean P. Means) 1.5 stars
Time to call a timeout on this bunch of babies.
Nickelodeon's Rugrats, those cloyingly cute emblems of absentee parenting,
are back with their third movie, the shoddy "Rugrats Go Wild."
Alas, being cheaply animated and idiotically scripted isn't enough for the Klasky Csupo animation team.They also have to drag down their somewhat better program for older kids, "The Wild Thornberrys," with the terrible toddlers in an ill-advised crossover.
Stu Pickles, father of the head Rugrat, Tommy, and baby Dil, organizes a luxury tropical vacation for his neighbors and their kids, but the plans go awry when the rickety charter boat is washed up on a deserted island. (Cue the "Gilligan's Island" music -- and it's a measure of this movie's IQ that we hear it not once but twice.) Conveniently, it's the same island where nature-show host Nigel Thornberry and his family are tracking a rare leopard.
The script (by Kate Boutilier, who wrote "The Wild Thornberrys Movie") matches Rugrats to Thornberrys in hopes of comic sparks. Pairing bratty Angelica with self-absorbed teen Debbie Thornberry gets a laugh or two, but introducing Eliza Thornberry -- who can speak to animals -- to the Pickles' dog, Spike, is a humorless disaster. Bruce Willis gives a warm line-reading as Spike, but the jokes are of the lame dogs-sniffing-themselves variety. Even worse, Spike sings -- which means Willis' musical career, once thought to have been safely discarded along with those Seagram's wine coolers, is again thrust upon us.
The makers of "Rugrats Go Wild" may have known how bad things were getting when they opted to augment the movie with Odorama -- the gimmick of using scratch-and-sniff cards, numbered so different smells would emanate at appropriate moments. (John Waters used this in 1981 with "Polyester," and in fact has threatened to sue Paramount for trademark infringement.) The odorific cards have spaces for strawberries, peanut butter, flowers, stinky feet, root beer and fish. That smell of flopsweat is coming from the screen.
In today's Hollywood system, synergy has more to do with energy than creativity. A textbook illustration is "Rugrats Go Wild." It's a synergistic cocktail, bringing together cartoon figures from two big Nickelodeon TV shows, "Rugrats" and "The Wild Thornberrys," for a string of gags without a plot.
UNLESS, AS PLOT, you call being stranded on a desert island that isn't
really deserted an "adventure."
So, teen attitude princess Debbie Thornberry gets to trade zings and pings with senior rugrat attitude princess Anjelica Pickles.
Both Sir Nigel Thornberry (voice: Tim Curry) and Drew Pickles (Michael Bell) make adult fools of themselves (adults are necessary fools, like Shakespearean clowns).
Cute dog Spike (voice of Bruce Willis), "spreading his fleas on an unsuspecting
world," wanders the isle with youngsters.
They meet animals, share wee-wee and poopie moments, occasionally break into songs so forgettable you might think you have a sudden memory disorder.
This TV promo gizmo and baby sitter is an awfully small movie, though a Nickelodeon
release boasts of $100 million in tie-ins and lists nine major companies.
San Francisco Chronicle
(C.W. Nevius) [Portions used in ad for film in bold.]
| (Left: Little Man's pose is equivalent to 2 stars on a
(The Little Man and all of its poses are trademarks of , and ©2003, by the Chronicle Publishing Company.)
Who would have thought those bright minds at Nickelodeon would come up with a stinker? With a sterling track record that runs from two "Rugrats" films to "The Wild Thornberrys Movie" and the Oscar-nominated "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius," this new release would seem like a sure thing.
But somebody misplaced the fun compass for "Rugrats Go Wild." The trouble begins with a well-deserved PG rating. The ads call it "mild, crude humor," but this has more "yucks" than "yuks." There are a succession of loaded-diaper jokes, a huge snot bubble, bird poop in the face, vomiting and flatulence. When he meets a new character, Spike the dog (voiced by Bruce Willis) turns and says, "Want to smell my butt?"
Now, somewhere on the Nickelodeon studio lot someone is saying, "Kids love that kind of stuff." But only as a lowest common denominator. "Finding Nemo," to which "Rugrats Go Wild" is fated to endure comparisons, makes better jokes, with more class and has a G rating to boot.
Sadly, it also must be reported that the much-touted "Odorama" card creates barely a whiff of interest. The idea is that when numbers appear on the screen (and you'd better be paying attention, they are on and off quickly) you scratch your Odorama card and sniff the result. First, you have to really, really scratch hard to get a smell, and second, a lot of the smells are pretty similar -- even the stinky feet.
Part of the problem is that by combining the entire "Rugrats" gang and the whole zoo from "The Wild Thornberrys," both popular TV shows, you've got way too many characters. It doesn't help that most of the time is spent with the Rugrats babies although the Thornberrys are the more interesting family.
Except for a ripping run through the jungle while the kids are being chased by a jaguar (Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, wasted in the part), this is flat, dreary going. The songs seem tacked on to the action and the filmmakers are so amused by their clever nods to "Titanic," "Gilligan's Island," "I Love Lucy" and "The Perfect Storm" that the plot lacks snap.
The exception is [Bruce] Willis as Spike. He's got more energy than the rest of the cast combined. And his duet with Hynde, "Big Bad Cat," is one of the only musical numbers that doesn't stop the action dead. A wise-cracking dog, now that's funny -- in case Nickelodeon needs a reminder.
The Rugrats meet the Wild Thornberrys in this third "Rugrats" big-screen adventure. Unfortunately, the pairing doesn't have as much snap to the diapers that a meeting of two such successful TV and movie franchises might have mustered.
Oh sure, the de rigueur potty humor is present in spades -- this time largely due to the beloved Rugrats' dog, Spike, speaking his first words ever. Just the fact that Spike is spoken by Bruce Willis, who helped propel the "Look Who's Talking" movies to box-office gold, is enough to instill a little mischief with a musical number that's all about butt-sniffing.
But this collision of popular Emmy-winning TV shows is strangely uninspired and, well, a bit dull.
"Rugrats Go Wild!" pulls several references from films, like "Titanic," and the filmmakers have even added Odorama cards (last used in John Waters'1981 cult film "Polyester") to make the toddler viewing experience a little more compelling. But gimmicks (and those Odorama cards aren't that easy to scratch open despite a label that says they're glow-in-the-dark) can't disguise the fact that the pace is lagging and those poopy pants and snotty nose jokes are getting a little soggy.
If you just want to keep the kids busy for awhile this will do -- but that's about it.
Sun Newspapers (Cleveland, OH)
(Stan Urankar) 2 $'s
"You're nuthin' but a backyard baby with a diaper full of dreams," the always impolite Angelica Pickles nyah-nyahs at the eternally hopeful Tommy in "Rugrats Go Wild." The same applies to the Gabor-Csupo juggernaut that's milked the last bit of creativity from its Nickelodeon franchise.
If there's a single indicator of how downright timid this whole "Wild" idea is, look no farther than opting to have Spike's first words spoken by Bruce Willis. Though he's done great voice work (the "Look Who's Talking" movies), Willis roller-coasters from neurotic to obnoxious here, traits never evidenced as Spike-like in any "Rugrats" cartoon.If that's one big strike, Mark Mothersbaugh's music is the next. Perhaps caught in some reliving-Devo midlife crisis, he hammers the soundtrack with one loud, indecipherable, baby-rap song after another. The tunes are hurtin' when the best jam comes as Debbie Thornberry and Anjelica peel out to the Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go."
If the ugly carpetlike wave action simulating the high seas doesn't get you, the record-high level of poop, snot and fart gags will. Even pop-culture jabs fired for grown-ups (Angelica's shipwrecked karaoke of "The Morning After" is best) aren't enough to make kids of any age go wild for the Rugrats this time.
The Toronto Sun (Liz Braun)
Teamed with the Thornberrys, the animated characters seem better suited for television than a full-length movie.
While familiarity really does breed contempt, it's tough to get too much of the Rugrats. Rugrats Go Wild is the long-awaited feature in which the tiny tots meet their Wild Thornberry counterparts -- and all of them animated characters -- from the Klasky-Csupo stable.
Die-hard adult fans of both television shows are not happy about this big-screen union, but that's another story.
What it takes for the two families to finally meet up is the centre of Rugrats Go Wild and also, alas, the film's weakest feature. When the complications that make for fun, half-hour TV episodes get stretched to feature length, it just makes everyone cranky.
The songs and the typical Rugrat jokes (infant bodily function humour and typical childhood malapropisms) sound a bit tired in this go-'round; on their side, the Thornberrys are mostly an afterthought, almost a gimmick.
The film is a bit flat. A lot of the material seems stale, and as if to offset that, the animated action is hyper.
Still, if your kids love the Rugrats and the Wild Thornberrys, then Rugrats Go Wild is a safe family bet for you.
The Tribune-Review (Pittsburgh)
(Ed Blank) 2 stars
"Rugrats Go Wild" should be dismembered and studied under a How-Not-To microscope.
Crudely animated, haphazardly organized and tedious, the story is hard enough to follow if you sit down, stay put and strive to watch it attentively.
At a Saturday morning preview, I was one of the few to do so judging from the heavy traffic in the aisles -- including some kids playing there -- the non-stop jabber about unrelated subjects, running around and changing seats every couple of minutes, insisting that repeated restroom trips were necessary and dictating snack orders to indulgent mommies who supplied quantities of soda pop that were bound to engender more restroom trips.
Known during production as "Rugrats 3: Rescue Me" and "The Rugrats Meet the Wild Thornberrys," "Rugrats Go Wild" attempts to combine two Nickelodeon franchises.
In doing so, it so greatly overpopulates the picture with unpleasant and often indistinguishable cartoon characters.
The script is so primitively constructed that it's hard to hone in on the cartoon's own level of reality. It has the hastily thrown-together feel of a TV episode patched from spare parts and rushed into production without a good reading.
The closest thing to diversion for adults is lame allusions to and familiar quotes from movies such as "Crocodile Hunter," "The Poseidon Adventure," "Jaws" and "Taxi Driver."
Although never as vulgar as many other PG and PG-13 "family films," "Rugrats Go Wild" contains numerous potty, dirty diaper and poor hygiene jokes and running gags about picking noses and how the dog Spike (Bruce Willis) can't smell.
I was confounded six times during the screening by large colored and numbered circles that appeared in the lower right corner of the screen, flashing an unexplained signal.
It turns out that, although a supply had not turned up in time for distribution at the Saturday preview, viewers of "Rugrats Go Wild" are being screen-cued to scratch off each number to get the aroma of smelly feet and ... aw, forget it.
The gimmick was tried for an obscure 1960 movie called "Scent of Mystery" (never released here but shown on TV as "Holiday in Spain") and John Waters' revolting "Polyester" (1981).
"Rugrats Go Wild" never acknowledges its subtext about criminally negligent parents.
I shared the back row with a couple who brought four children, all between 3 and 6, who ran around the theater and carried on unsupervised for the whole 80 minutes. The parents can't have been paying much more attention to the film's content than the children.
USA Today (Claudia Puig)
It seemed a clever enough idea: Bring together two of the most popular and long-lasting Nickelodeon cartoons into one summer movie. Too bad the result is rather lackluster.
The movie also offers an additional gimmick: odorama, a scratch-and-sniff experience using cards provided at the theater. But some of the smells are not scented as specifically as advertised, so it seems a wasted effort. Very young fans of the two TV shows should be entertained by the meeting of the characters. And the overall message is worthwhile, if obvious. Workaholism: bad. Family time: good. But one can't get over the sense that Viacom, parent company of Nickelodeon and Paramount, was trying to squeeze a few more dollars out of the franchises.
Last year's The Wild Thornberrys Movie and previous Rugrats films were more imaginative. And this one also suffers by coming on the heels of the exceptional Finding Nemo.
Variety (Todd McCarthy)
The Rugrats run amok in "Rugrats Go Wild," a frantic and frenetic
concoction that throws the diapered crowd and the Thornberry clan together with
none of the previous charm of either. Screechily abrasive and sorely lacking
in elements that engage the imagination, this third and least entry in the moppet-dominated
bigscreen series will do some automatic business based on the familiarity of
Nickelodeon's longtime franchise. But no doubt sensing pic's third-place status
among early summer animated fare, Paramount has wisely positioned release in
a window midway between the "Finding Nemo" behemoth and the next potential
biggie, "Sinbad," and will do everything it can to squeeze the most
out of it during this period. Ancillary afterlife should prove more lucrative.
After hitting $100 million domestically (and $55 million overseas) with "The Rugrats Movie" in 1998 and generating surprising charm and wit two years later in "Rugrats in Paris," which generated $77 million at home but only $28 million abroad, producers Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo hit the B.O. wall for the first time last year with their more ambitious theatrical transfer of a TV series, "The Wild Thornberrys," which managed just $40 million in the U.S. and half that foreign. Given these declining figures, it must be assumed that the future of the Rugrats franchise now hangs in the balance, and that if the pattern continues, new pic could well rep its swan song.
Which, on the evidence, would not be a bad thing. Cloaking the entire enterprise is an air of over-anxious desperation, suggested even before the picture begins by the handing out of Odorama scratch-and-smell cards that, in the event, prove much less amusing than when John Waters used them in conjunction with "Polyester" more than two decades ago. (For kids' benefit, of the six odors prompted for delectation by flashing numbers and lights in the corner of the screen, the bare foot is by far the stinkiest and, once scraped, nearly overpowers the rest.)
By the same token, the simple plot device that brings together the two family units is all but overpowered by the bigger-than-ever gaggle of characters, all of whom endeavor to complain, bicker and cry louder than the next person just to be heard.
[The role] reversals, as well as a small plot strand that has dog Spike (Bruce Willis) able to speak with Debbie's dorky sister Eliza (Lacey Chabert), who can communicate with all animals, have some potential, but any development or resonance is steamrolled by the shrill dialogue, going-nowhere storytelling and overbearing characters, of whom there are far too many. Effort simply lacks any of the magic or sense of wonderment that good animated films, and kidpics in general, should generate for smallfry. And it is certainly devoid of any appeal to adults, despite the old film references and partly because of the unappealing covers of some rock standards.
Due to the island setting and Thornberry influence, pictorial elements are more lavish than in the previous Rugrat entries, but to no avail.
The Village Voice (Michael Atkinson)
...it's tough to j'accuse Rugrats Go Wild, in which the malapropism-spewing
toddlers go on a family vacation run amok (the first 20 minutes quotes from
dozens of parent-familiar movies, from The Poseidon Adventure to Planet of the
Apes) and end up shipwrecked on the same island as the wildlife-documenting
Wild Thornberrys. As matinee probations go, the movie's tainted by too many
bad songs and too much of Bruce Willis, who provides the inappropriately smug
voice for the Rugrats' befuddled dog, Spike, who can talk now because Eliza
Thornberry can hear him. Having 20 confined characters to utilize in less than
90 minutes leaves Eliza and Tommy Pickles, for two, shortchanged. Kids may not
pay attention to the restoration of John Waters's old Odorama gag -- with
your ticket, you get scratch 'n' sniff cards faintly reeking of root beer, peanut
butter, and fish. Otherwise, this third outing hits its moment of painful maturation
with diaper hedonist Phil, bidding adieu to his addiction to gobbling insects:
"If I'd a known the last bug I eats was gonna be the last bug I eats .
. . I woulda eats it slower."
Vizalia (CA) Times Delta (James Ward)
Reviewing a children's movie is always a tricky business. Do you try to guess if kids are going to like it? Or do you write an honest appraisal of the film, recognizing that you're a few decades removed from the target audience.
That brings us to "Rugrats Go Wild," a film that merges two of Nickelodeon's most popular animated franchises: "The Rugrats" and "The Wild Thornberrys."
Will children like it? Probably, if they are younger than 10 and easily amused. Is the movie good? No, not really.
It's a shame, because the previous films inspired by the two series -- "Rugrats: The Movie," "Rugrats in Paris" and " The Wild Thornberrys Movie" -- were entertaining romps that combined top-notch animation, amusing action scenes and some clever material for parents who were dragged to theaters by their children.
Things get off to a promising start in "Rugrats Go Wild." The Pickel family -- along with family friends Chuckie, Angelica, Spike the Dog and other "Rugrats" regulars -- head off for an "adventure" vacation on a tugboat. Directors John Eng and Norton Virgien throw in some clever jokes poking fun at nautical-themed movies, including "The Poseidon Adventure" and "Titanic."
Unfortunately, they drop most of that comic energy when the whole bunch ends up on a tropical island, which just happens to be where the Thornberrys are filming their latest TV show.
The movie then sputters along with some lackluster musical numbers, unfunny jokes about diapers and a wasted turn by Bruce Willis as the voice of Spike. The movie star isn't given much to do here, making you wonder why the producers bothered putting such a big name in the production.
Only an encounter with a grumpy leopard brings some excitement to the proceedings, but that moment is fleeting.
The producers, probably sensing the lack of pizzazz in "Rugrats Go Wild," decided to spice things up by making the film interactive. Audience members are given a piece of scratch-and-sniff paper featuring the smells of strawberries, fish, peanut butter and feet, then instructed to release the smells at appropriate points in the film.
It's too bad they didn't come up with a better screenplay, because that stunt
carries with it the distinct smell of desperation.
Washington Post (Desson Howe)
The rough-and-tumble Rugrats meet the somewhat milder Wild Thornberrys in a double whammy for Nickelodeon. It's also the first movie since John Waters's "Polyester" to feature Odorama scratch-and-sniff cards.
For all the doubling of franchises, Odorama-smelling and smart-aleck references to famous movies and songs, there's nothing particularly bright and charming about the film. The exuberance of the Rugrats seems nullified by the effete quirkiness of the Thornberrys. And despite a lot of interaction among the various characters, the movie becomes like a Nickelodeon version of "The Love Boat," with guest stars (such as Bruce Willis providing only lukewarm amusement as the dog Spot [sic]) exchanging dialogue and moving on.
Washington Times (Gary Arnold) Half-star
"Rugrats Go Wild" is more in the nature of "Rugrats SOS."
The Nickelodeon humorists seem intent on exhausting both their audience and
their two cartoon franchises in one fell swoop with this castaway farce.
...there's such a fixation on non-fatal images of submersion and drowning in "Rugrats Go Wild" that I began to feel as haunted as the Ancient Mariner whenever characters approached the water.
The babies and toddlers wander off to terrorize the jungle wildlife and belabor jokes about dirty diapers. Between the diaper references and the drowning alarms, spectators can look forward to being encased in a monotonously sodden system of humor.
The clever blend of slapstick anarchy and affectionate family feeling that sustained the first two "Rugrats" features must have gone down with the ship in "Go Wild." The jokes and characterizations suffer from an aggressive staleness that implies either desperation or oblivion. The Rugrats excursion to Paris turned out to be a happy brainstorm. Having them get lost with the Thornberrys has turned into an unwitting cry in the wilderness for fresh comic inspiration.
Obviously, the time has come for some serious re-evaluation about where these cartoon clans ought to find themselves in the coming years. Maybe getting a little older would help the youngest set. Rugrats might improve by being able to socialize at the "Peanuts" level.
In its own sphere of competition, "Rugrats Go Wild" is staring at a daunting example of comic sophistication in "Finding Nemo," already in the marketplace with wittier material and a more sumptuous pictorial environment, both under the sea and bordering the sea. A lot of soul-searching awaits the Nickelodeon movie team upon returning to the skull session and the drawing pad.
Weekly Planet (Tampa) 2 stars
Two batches of Nickelodeon cartoon characters for the price of one, although
the fun factor is barely half of what you might reasonably expect from a project
like this. This team-up of the animated kiddies from Nick's popular Rugrats
and Wild Thornberrys TV shows does feature one nice (albeit underused) gimmick
-- a scratch 'n' sniff card -- but it's all downhill from there. The movie contains
the requisite boogers and poop jokes and should do well with its primary 3-
to 7-year-old target audience, but most adult chaperones will find little of
interest. The script feels like it was knocked out in an afternoon, the animation
has a cheaper-than-usual look, and there's almost nothing here as funny or interesting
as the previous Rugrats movies, or even one of the half-hour TV episodes.
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