[Screen It]


(1998) (voices of E.G. Daily, Christine Cavanaugh) (G)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
None Minor Mild *Moderate None
Minor None Mild None None
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Minor None Minor Mild Minor

Children's Animated: Based on the Nickelodeon TV show, a group of young kids must find their way home after getting lost in the woods.
One-year-old Tommy Pickles (voice of E.G. DAILY) is an adventurous little kid who's not too happy about the arrival of his little brother, Dylan (voice of TARA CHARENDOFF) a.k.a. Dil Pickles, who can't stop crying and has seemingly taken up every last bit of his parent's time. While his dad, Stu (voice of JACK RILEY), a toy inventor, and mom, Didi (voice of MELANIE CHARTOFF) take care of Dil, Tommy hangs out with his "bestest" friend, Chuckie Finster (voice of CHRISTINE CAVANAUGH), a nervous and tentative two-year-old, and his other friends, twins Phil and Lil DeVille (voice of KATH SOUCIE).

When not having to deal with Tommy's meanspirited but prissy older cousin, Angelica (voice of CHERYL CHASE), the rugrats decide that they should return Dil to the "hop-sickle" (hospital) figuring that his crying must mean he's "broked" (broken). Taking the Reptar wagon -- the half dinosaur, half mini-car that Stu's recently invented -- the young kids head off as Grandpa Lou (voice of JOE ALASKEY), who's supposed to be watching them, obliviously sleeps nearby.

Through a series of unusual circumstances, the rugrats end up deep in a dark forest. Ever the resourceful one and believing the pocket watch his father gave him to be a compass, Tommy leads Chuckie, Phil, and Lil on a quest to find a magic wizard who may be able to send them home.

Meanwhile, and upon learning that the kids are missing, Didi and Stu, along with his brother Drew (voice of MICHAEL BELL) and sister-in-law Charlotte, head off to look for them. While Angelica sets off with Spike, the family dog, in search of her beloved doll, Cynthia, the Rugrats try to find their way home while dealing with a band of escaped, mischievous and hungry circus monkeys, as well as a lone, but dangerous wolf.

If they're fans of the long running Nickelodeon TV show, they probably will, but young preteens are obviously the targeted audience.
For not containing material to warrant a higher rating.
  • Tommy is an adventurous one-year-old kid who initially isn't happy about having a new baby brother, but eventually comes around to liking him.
  • Chuckie is his "scaredy-cat," two-year-old friend.
  • Phil & Lil are the somewhat odd twins who hang out with Tommy and Chuckie.
  • Angelica is Tommy's three-year-old, precocious cousin who looks down her nose at him and his friends.


    OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
    Apparently living in the same universe as Dennis the Menace, Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang, along with other similar cartoon/comic characters whose pituitary glands have seemingly been removed to stunt their growth and development, the Rugrats are a big hit among kids.

    Although they're relatively new in comparison with those other longstanding favorites, these characters -- that have appeared on the Nickelodeon cable TV network since 1991 and are loved worldwide -- have now made it to the big time. Yes, they're getting their own "full length" feature film.

    I must admit that before checking out one of the episodes, I was only mildly familiar with, but had never seen, the characters or their show. From my limited comparative observations, fans of the show should generally be pleased with the big screen treatment it's received.

    While all of the familiar characters that have made the show popular for so many years return relatively unchanged, the film's look has been given something of the big screen treatment. Although no one will ever compare the series' -- or this movie's -- animation to that of Disney or the recent Fox release, "Anastasia," the theatrical release is decidedly better drawn and features greater depth than its small screen cousin.

    Of course, shows featuring Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang didn't become favorites due to quality of their animation. Instead, the characters and their stories are what have drawn kids and adults alike to those shows over the decades. Likewise, and despite the out of focus backgrounds deployed to give the film greater dimensional depth, it's the Rugrats themselves who will draw the kids.

    As written by David N. Weiss and J. David Stem, and directed by Norton Virgien and Igor Kovalyov, the film plays out like an extended version of the show's short episodes. With the exception of a new baby brother to the central family and some extraneous supporting characters, most everyone from the small screen has made the trip over to the big side.

    The Rugrats -- led by the adventurous Tommy -- still talk among themselves when the parents aren't around or are out of earshot, and also find themselves in their own self-generated adventure that keeps the momentum high and the story continually moving forward -- something that's important to both kids and their parents.

    Speaking of the latter, the film, much like the singular episode of the show I've seen, wisely attempts to entertain the adults just as much as the young ones. While this film didn't come off as clever as that rerun episode -- and is extremely lame when compared to the far more imaginative and spoof-filled "The Simpsons" -- there is enough material to keep the parents from nodding off or continually shifting in their seats.

    As such, there's an opening homage scene featuring elements from "Raiders of the Lost Ark," a brief, but funny reference to the Meryl Streep movie "A Cry In The Dark" where a character here asks, "Is it true -- a dingo ate your baby?" (both of which are presumably unknown source material to the target audience), some voice cameos by the likes of Tim Curry, Whoopi Goldberg and David Spade, and a few children-oriented covers of old pop hits such as Blondie's "One Way Or Another."

    Unfortunately, most of the songs injected into the film are rather lame, and lack the big screen pizzazz and quality found in Disney's animated features. Although a few of them are fun for the kids, most aren't lively or cute enough to hold the kids' -- let alone, their parents' -- interests.

    Even so, the characters, as crudely drawn as they are in relative terms to other big screen animated features, have something of an infectiously charming spirit to them, and while I mostly dreaded having to see this picture, I left with the impression that it wasn't that bad.

    Although I'd wager that relatively few adults will flock to the theater sans children to see this feature, if they do go, those with kids should have a relatively good time. Not as clever as "The Simpsons," nor as grandly staged as recent Disney films, this feature is cute enough to earn a passing grade although we imagine it won't last long in the theaters. We give "The Rugrats Movie" -- a film that will prosper much better once on video -- a 6 out of 10.

    Despite being rated G, the film contains material that some parents may find questionable. Depending on your child's age and maturity level, scenes listed under "Frightening/Tense Scenes" may or may not be scary or suspenseful to your kids, but several children at our screening decided they had seen enough and wanted to leave.

    As in many movies aimed at kids, some scatological humor occurs, and we not only get to hear references to bodily functions, but also see and hear some of them as well (all played for laughs -- which they elicited from the kids at our screening). In addition, a few references to genitals are made that might come as a surprise to some parents.

    Beyond all of that, there's not much else present that could be considered as major objectionable content. Even so, you may want to take a closer look at what's been listed just to be sure it will be appropriate for your kids.

  • None.
  • Some scatological humor occurs, with talk of "poops in their pants," and a song includes the line, "This world is such a gas" and we then hear farting sounds. Later, we hear some "pooping" sounds coming from Dil as we briefly see him straining. Even later, one of the kids comments that if they had gone any farther (near the edge of a cliff), "I would have needed a fresh diapee."
  • We also see several arched urine streams coming from several infant boys (not directly from their bodies, but from their cribs) in a hospital nursery (to look like a Busby Berkley fountain scene), and see another lone one as Tommy tries to change Dil's diaper.
  • Dil throws up on Chuckie.
  • Angelica is a spoiled, prissy brat who doesn't like the other, younger kids, and at one point she tells Spike (the dog), "Not all dogs go to Heaven."
  • Drew is demeaning to his brother and tells him that he should get a real job (instead of being a toy inventor).
  • Initially, neither Tommy nor the DeVille twins like Dil, and the latter decide to take him back to the hospital for a "refund."
  • Depending on the age and maturity level of your child, the following may or may not be suspenseful or scary to them.
  • An adventurous opening scene set in a "Raiders of the Lost Ark" type setting may be a little suspenseful to the youngest of kids (the characters have to run through a gaping stone mouth that quickly opens and closes, a huge boulder rolls behind them and gains on the kids, they have to jump across a chasm, and one of them barely makes it and then holds onto the edge as Tommy then pulls him to safety, etc...).
  • Some younger kids may be unsettled by Didi briefly screaming while in childbirth.
  • Likewise some kids may be nervous or frightened by the Rugrats being lost in the forest, especially since it's dark and we then hear the sounds of a wolf (a child near me decided it was time to leave at this point, but did come back).
  • Other scenes, such as the Reptar wagon careening down a hill or hanging precariously on the edge of a cliff may be suspenseful to kids, as might a brief moment where Chuckie falls into a river (but then realizes it's only knee deep).
  • The Reptar wagon, now acting as a boat, nearly goes over the edge of a waterfall.
  • Several of the Rugrats' encounters with the circus monkeys (where they occasionally approach the kids in a menacing fashion or have kidnaped Dil and are dragging him away) as well as the wolf (with glowing eyes, growling sounds and a drooling mouth filled with sharp teeth) may also be frightening to certain kids.
  • Likewise, a scene set at the beginning of a thunderstorm, where flashes of lighting cast shadows that look like monsters in the woods, and a large tree falls and nearly lands on the kids, may be unsettling to some younger viewers.
  • The monkeys surround Chuckie because he's got banana flavored baby food spilled on him.
  • Angelica hangs from a broken bridge (from where the other kids have to save her) while the menacing wolf then appears and fights with Spike. The two then fall from the bridge and kids may be upset upon Spike's presumed death (but he's okay).
  • None.
  • Phrases: "Tuckus" (for butt), "Loser," "Poopy monster," "Jerk" and "Nincompoop."
  • Dil repeatedly hits Tommy on the head with a rattle (at first by accident, but then seemingly on purpose) and then with his bottle.
  • The DeVille twins convince Tommy to try to pull a toy away from Dil which, of course, only upsets him.
  • The Rugrats take the Reptar wagon and drive it down the middle of the neighborhood streets.
  • Angelica has Spike (the dog) pull her along on her roller skates.
  • None.
  • A mild amount of suspenseful music occurs in several scenes during the movie.
  • None.
  • None.
  • Referring to Didi's pregnancy and the possible sex of the baby, a woman states, "Born under Venus, look for a..." (and stops before saying "penis").
  • When a newborn infant sings that they "cut my cord," another infant looks down into his diaper and says, "Consider yourself lucky" (probably referring to circumcision). Later, another infant looks down into his diaper and says, "So that's what that thing looks like."
  • Despite it being a cartoon, we do see Tommy's bare butt after Dil pulls the pin that drops his older brother's diaper to the ground.
  • None.
  • Tommy isn't happy upon Dil's arrival and his loss of parental attention, but he later comes around by the story's end.
  • The parents worry about their missing kids.
  • Since the film focus a great deal of attention of Didi's pregnancy, going to the hospital, etc..., that would be something to discuss with younger kids.
  • In relation to that, there's the matter of kids not getting the full attention of their parents when a new brother or sister comes along (Tommy ends a song by stating, "I want mom and dad for me...").
  • That family is important, as Tommy finally cares for Dil and the two get along.
  • Some Russian circus handlers upset several tables as they race outside to chase after a train -- which several circus monkeys have commandeered -- and that later crashes in a forest.
  • Dil repeatedly hits Tommy on the head with a rattle (at first by accident, but then seemingly on purpose) and then with his bottle.
  • Stu and Drew get into a brief tussle where Drew ends up pinning Stu to the ground and holding his arm behind him. When Stu exclaims that he's breaking his arm, Drew says, "That's because I can't reach your neck."
  • Spike (the dog) attacks a wolf that's menacing the kids and the two fall from a bridge presumably into the river below.

  • Reviewed September 17, 1998 / Posted on November 20, 1998

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