The Rugrats take off on a "Wild" adventure!
The Pickles clan, comprised of the parents of Tommy, Dil, and spoiled brat Angelica, invite their close friends the Finsters and DeVilles to accompany them on vacation. The destination: The Lipschitz Family Getaway. When they get to the dock, they discover that penny-pinching Stu has decided to eschew the cruise in favor of renting his own boat. The boat he rents is far from seaworthy. So far from seaworthy that the group ends up stranded on an uninhabited island after a tangle with a tidal wave.
Little do they know that on that very island is the Thornberry clan, in the process of shooting a nature video. Nigel bumps his head during an attempt to save the Rugrats. Angelica convinces Debbie Thornberry that she is an island goddess. Family dog Spike speaks, due to Eliza Thornberry's unique gift. Will the Rugrats and their parents manage to make it back to civilization?
After the huge success of The Rugrats Movie and Rugrats in Paris and the moderate success of The Wild Thornberrys Movie, Paramount cooked up a plan: merge the two franchises for one feature that would reap a huge payday. What seemed like a great idea at the time looked pretty bad after the mediocre box office results. Contrary to the numbers, this isn't a bad film. It's not as clever or funny as Rugrats in Paris, and it lacks the warmth of The Wild Thornberrys Movie. But as a mild diversion, it's worth a look at least once.
Part of the problem with the film is one that has plagued the Rugrats TV series for some time—there are far too many babies. At first, there was only Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, and Angelica. But with each new season and feature, another baby was added. The show feels awfully cramped and so does the movie. Also, the Thornberrys, all of whom are intriguing characters, are reduced to what amounts as a cameo. I would have liked much more interaction between the different characters. I can think of at least three potential storylines that could have enriched this feature. The screenplay suffers from having to write for too many characters and not having enough substantial story. That is a strange criticism coming from a man who counts Robert Altman's multi-character films as his favorites, but for a short (80 minutes) animated cartoon, it's a valid point.
This movie is something else: loud. Angelica's screeching in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound will have parents everywhere reaching for the Advil. Chuckie's whining has been much toned down from the series and previous films, perhaps due to Nancy Cartwright (The Simpsons)
The movie is not without its strengths. Bruce Willis as Spike was a good addition. He delivers some clever lines with style and humor. Ditto Tim Curry as Nigel Thornberry in the few scenes he's in. Cartwright's interpretation of Chuckie is a major improvement. And the animation is beautiful, with a rich palette of colors and detail.
You have your choice of video transfers: a worthless pan-and-scan version or a flawless 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen version. Why even bother with the pan-and-scan? The film was animated and composed for scope, and should only be seen as such. Watching the pan-and-scan version is the cinematic equivalent of those adjustable tables that only annoy the owner. The widescreen version looks fantastic, almost free from flaws and defects.
You have the option of watching the film with or without the "Scratch and Sniff" theatrical gimmick. A card with six potential scents is included in the keep case. I recommend you skip the gimmick. The scents are all faint and don't add any enjoyment to the film itself.
The audio is offered in both Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Surround (in both English and French). It's bold and effective; maybe a little too effective considering the amount of shouting and screeching in the film. Be sure to set your sound system at a lower decibel level than normal.
Extras include three deleted songs, all horrible in quality and presented in rough sketch form. Listen to them, and it's easy to see why they were cut from the final plans. A deleted scene involving hunting fish is presented in 2.35:1 non-anamorphic widescreen and in unfinished form. It's interesting but the film isn't any worse without it. An alternate ending is also presented in non-anamorphic, unfinished form and is actually superior to the one used in the finished film.
An eight-minute Making Of featurette doesn't go into as much depth or detail as film buffs would like. I'd say give it a pass. An interactive DVD game is included for kids but they'll tire of it after the first try. Also, for your DVD-ROM, a sample of the PC game Rugrats Go Wild is included. Your kids will love it.
At $19.99, it's a bit too steep to merit a purchase. I doubt the film will have much replay value, so a rental is encouraged as the first step.
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