Rugrats Go Wild Review
By Shawn McKenzie 06/13/2003
The Rugrats were one of the original Nicktoons, so I have a special place for them in my heart. You could say I grew up with them (even though I was in high school when they first appeared.) I actually liked the first two Rugrats movies. I gave up on Nicktoons not long after “Rocko’s Modern Life” was cancelled, because all the newer toons weren’t as good in my opinion (“Invader Zim” and “Jimmy Neutron” are recent exceptions.) The Wild Thornberrys are a newer phenomenon. When I heard that Rugrats Go Wild was coming out, I had to rent The Wild Thornberrys Movie to get prepared, since I hadn’t seen it in the theater. This movie was originally called The Rugrats Meet the Wild Thornberrys, so I had to familiarize myself with their world. It was decent, but I don’t know if I’d watch their TV show on a regular basis. At least I knew what I was getting into, and it was cute, but nothing spectacular.
Stu Pickles (voiced by Jack Riley) has told the rest of his family and friends that he has set them up on a boat ride for their vacation. They all assume it is a trip on a luxury liner to the South Pacific sponsored by Dr. Lipschitz (voiced by Tony Jay), the child psychologist the parents frequently refer to when needing child-rearing advice. They are unpleasantly surprised to find out that Stu has instead rented an old tugboat to take them on their trip. The fellow grown-up travelers include Didi (voiced by Melanie Chartoff), Stu’s wife; Drew and Charlotte Pickles (voiced by Michael Bell and Tress MacNeille), Stu’s older brother and sister-in-law; Chaz and Kira Finster (voiced by Michael Bell and Julia Kato); and Howard and Betty DeVille (voiced by Phil Proctor and Kath Soucie.) The Pickles are bringing along their babies Tommy and Dil Pickles (voiced by Elizabeth Daily and Tara Strong) and their dog Spike. Also coming along are Chuckie and Kimi Finster (voiced by Nancy Cartwright and Dionne Quon), Chaz and Kira’s babies; three-year old Angelica Pickles (voiced by Cheryl Chase), Drew and Charlotte’s daughter; Phil and Lil DeVille (both voiced by Kath Soucie), Howard and Betty’s fraternal twin babies; and Susie Carmichael (voiced by Cree Summer), a friend who is about Angelica’s age. Everyone is unhappy with Stu for doing this, and they all become even more upset when the boat is capsized under a huge wave. The group makes it to a deserted island (which is oddly on Stu’s map) and begins to argue over how they are going to survive on the island and how they will get off it. They make a makeshift playpen for the babies, and assign Angelica to watch them. She doesn’t of course, so it is left up to Spike to do it for her. The babies easily get out of the playpen and wander off to find their TV hero Nigel Thornberry (voiced by Tim Curry), a “Crocodile Hunter”-like host of a nature show whom the babies call “Nigel Strawberry,” because they think he might be on the island and can save them. He actually is on the island, along with his wife Marianne (voiced by Jodi Carlisle) and the rest of his family. They include his younger daughter Eliza (voiced by Lacey Chabert), who was given the power to talk to animals; his older daughter Debbie (voiced by Danielle Harris), a teen who knows about Eliza’s powers; Donnie (voiced by Flea), the wild jungle boy that the Thornberrys adopted; and Darwin (voiced by Tom Kane), the proper-speaking monkey that is Eliza’s best friend. They are on the island to track down a white leopard named Piki for the show. Neither of the daughters wants to be there, so Eliza decides to try to use her powers to find the leopard so they can get off the island faster. She runs into Spike (voiced by Bruce Willis) who has been trying to sniff out the wandered-off babies, but is having trouble with his sniffer. The babies do find Nigel, but due to a knock on the head, he has become childlike, so he isn’t much help to them. Meanwhile, Angelica finds a kindred spirit in Debbie, who thinks Angelica is an island native. Chuckie has a run-in with Donnie, and all of the babies, plus Eliza and Spike, have a run-in with Piki (voiced by L.L. Cool J.) All of them must find a way to get footage of Piki and maybe get off the island.
I liked this movie in the first half. There were several pop culture references made to Titanic, The Poseidon Adventure, Jaws, and “Gilligan’s Island” that were obviously meant to draw in the adults, but they seem to disappear halfway through the movie. Willis as a voice talent didn’t do much for me, especially since he led a couple of songs that were sung in the movie. I was hoping there wouldn’t be any singing, but oh well. I did like a subplot about Phil needing to kick his bug-eating addiction. It started after Lil witnessed a lizard eat a fly and decided that it was so cruel that they should no longer eat bugs. The Angelica and Debbie subplot was ripe with possibilities, as the two divas with attitude clash for the first time, but it goes nowhere.
Fans of both the Rugrats and the Wild Thornberrys will like Rugrats Go Wild. As a fan of the Rugrats myself, I didn’t like it as much as The Rugrats Movie or The Rugrats in Paris, and I liked it about the same as I liked The Wild Thornberrys Movie. I noticed that it didn’t contain a major plot development in it, unlike the previous movies. In The Rugrats Movie, Dil was born. In The Rugrats in Paris, Chuckie got a new mommy in Kira and a new sister in Kimi. In The Wild Thornberrys Movie, Debbie found out about Eliza’s powers. The only development we have in Rugrats Go Wild is that Spike sounds like Bruce Willis when he talks. There are worse movies that you could take your kids to, but I’d rather take them to Finding Nemo again. I’m giving this a higher than average rating because of the hilarious references in the first half and my general love for the Rugrats. I’m just glad that they at least attempted to attract the older crowd.
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