Rugrats Go Wild

Content Caution



In Theaters


Home Release Date




Loren Eaton

Movie Review

It’s summer and you know what that means: vacation time. The Pickles, Finster and DeVille clans are all ready for a much needed break, but this year they’re not going to the county fair or on a camping trip. No, sir, they’re all headed to a tropical island on a luxury cruise! Or so they think. Unbeknownst to everyone else, Stu Pickles has arranged for a more “intimate” excursion on a dilapidated barge. Also unbeknownst to everyone—including Stu—is the fact that a large storm system is moving their way. One terrifying tempest later, the families and their tiny tots (Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, Dil, Kimi, Susie and the tyrannical Angelica) are stranded on what they think is a desert island. Yet hope is not lost; the famous naturalist duo Nigel and Marianne Thornberry are stalking the island, seeking video footage of a rare leopard. Along for the ride is their insolent teen Debbie, the perceptive chimp Darwin, a frenetic wild child named Donnie and 12-year-old Eliza who can talk with animals. 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. Seeing his father get ridiculed by the other parents, Tommy decides to try to help by leading the other kids on a trek to find rescuers. Stu doesn’t sit on his hands, either. He scavenges enough materials to build a radio that eventually saves several lives. Though Debbie Thornberry is a bossy teen who always demands her own way, she ultimately longs for her parents to break from their busy lives and spend time with the family. Nigel and Marianne eventually realize that exotic globetrotting can’t replace healthy involvement in their kids’ lives. The Pickles’ family dog, Spike, heroically drags a life raft back to shore in order to save the babies, nearly drowning in the process. While Angelica ridicules Tommy’s ambition to become a famous explorer like Nigel, Tommy refuses to abandon his dream. But he does discover a new role model by the end of the film: his often preoccupied but persistent and caring father.

spiritual content: When one husband says he’s going to use the seven days of vacation to buff up, his wife quips, “It could happen. The earth was created in six.” After the children wander off, Spike proclaims, “As dog is my witness, I’ll never lose my babies again.” Shots during the closing credits show Nigel practicing yoga.

sexual content: While trying to escape from a sinking boat, Angelica’s curvaceous mom rips off her skirt while sultry music plays (she’s wearing white shorts underneath). Debbie sunbathes in a bikini top.

violent content: Slapstick stunts and run-ins with wild animals that might frighten young children are featured. A fantasy sequence finds Tommy and the gang running from jungle cats and a “crocogator.” A massive wave pounds a tiny boat, causing it to sink. Angelica terrifies the babies by saying they’ll become “mutant lobster food.” A giant carnivorous plant tries to eat a child (it’s played for laughs). Various “creepy” jungle creatures feast on bugs. In order to sneak away from the Thornberry’s campsite, Angelica pretends to be a jungle native and says her tribe is about to sacrifice a goat. Nigel plummets off a cliff, has his crotch smacked by a branch and is hit in the head with a falling coconut. A fierce leopard tries to eat the babies, scratches Nigel’s hand and leads the whole group on a wild chase. An out-of-control miniature submarine crashes through an underwater cave. The craft ends up stranded on the ocean’s floor with no fuel and little oxygen, leading to tense moments over the fate of its occupants.

crude or profane language: Descriptors such as “dorky,” “idiot,” “poo,” “jeez,” “dumb” and “skanky.”

drug and alcohol content: Vacationers on a cruise liner toast with champagne.

other 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 (his sister eventually convinces him to abandon the habit on the grounds that it’s cruel to the bugs). A crucial plot point revolves around Spike sneezing snot everywhere. Eliza talks with the dog about “marking his territory.” Later he urinates on a leopard and tells the cat to “sniff my butt.” One tyke urinates behind a tree and extols the benefits of going to the bathroom in a forest. Babies converse about “daipy rash” and “daipy creep.” One saves a crusty waffle in his diaper and shares it with his pals. A seasick parent vomits over the side of a wave-tossed dingy. The babies moon each other.

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.

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Loren Eaton