|Rugrats Go Wild
2003 - G - 84 Mins.
|Director: John Eng, Norton Virgien
|Producer: Gabor Csupo, Arlene Klasky
|Written By: Kate Boutilier
|Starring: Elizabeth Daily, Cheryl Chase, Nancy Cartwright, Tim Curry, Lacey Chabert, Flea, Bruce Willis
|Review by: Carl Langley
'Rugrats Go Wild' is the type of movie we have to suffer when an impetuous need for another hit countervails appropriateness -- and does it ever desperately flaunt an blatant product. This third installment off the popular Nickelodeon TV series tries to add some flavor by combining screen time with the Thornberrys - another Nickelodeon TV series which had their own movie released last year. This idea of networking two different cartoon shows in one single feature would have been more acceptable if Fred Flintstone and George Jetson had not already crossed paths sixteen years ago.
I smell a rat
Rugrats main toddler, Tommy (voice of Elizabeth Daily), has always dreamed of growing up to be exactly like Nigel Thornberry (Tim Curry), an animal specialist who resembles a cross between Steve Irwin, aka Crocodile Hunter, and John Cleese. Tommy’s father, Drew, has designed a getaway cruise for all of the Rugrat families, which leads to a shipwreck on what appears to be a deserted island. Fortunately, the Thornberrys are temporarily residing there because Nigel and his wife, Marianne, are collecting video footage of a rare leopard-type animal.
The story needs no further explanation from here. What kind of Rugrats motion picture would it be if the mischievous tikes did not roam the island on their own, getting into trouble along the way? How lame would 'Rugrats Go Wild' be if Eliza Thornberry (Lacey Chabert), the daughter who possesses that Dr. Dolittle magic, did not go on a hunt for the babies with Spike, enabling him to speak for the very first time? Would the film be a major disappointment if both cartoon families did not pull their heads together and brainstorm how to save their loved ones, kindling a friendship that may spark more unwanted sequels?
'Rugrats Go Wild' is a letdown in numerous ways. Whether unintentionally or not, the story clumsily borrows from other films or lampoons other shows. Allowing the audience to hear a mute character talk for the very first time is nothing fresh. This novelty hails back to the more appealing 'Tom and Jerry: The Movie'.
And diehard fans of the Rugrats show will be appalled at the minor changes in some of the characters. The songs vocalized by the nippers are sub-par, especially Angelica’s (Cheryl Chase), whose musical number is flatter than a bottle of soda left unopened for three months. Understandably a cartoon is allowed to step outside the boundaries of logic, but the ending in 'Rugrats Go Wild' exits the hemisphere of rationale, ignoring any intelligence it credits the viewers.
The second Rugrats attempt, which took place in Paris, conned Susan Sarandon into lending her voice. This time around, Bruce Willis overexerts himself as the once unexpressed but now loquacious mutt. Besides a brief stint in the forgettable 'Beavis and Butthead Do America', Willis is a cartoon virgin. Spike was his first major animated role and it is efficiently unequivocal.
In the end,' Rugrats Go Wild' is a palsy attempt at unifying two family-oriented shows to accumulate the devotees of each fanfare. The narrative, sing-a-longs, and sketches are nothing spectacular. The film would have fared better premiering on television or video along with the rest of the straight-to-video Disney sequels.