The Rugrats Movie (1998)


USA. 1998.


Directors – Igor Kovalyov & Norton Virgien, Screenplay – J. David Stem & David N. Weiss, Producers – Gabor Csupo & Arlene Klasky, Music – Mark Mothersbaugh, Music Supervisor – Karyn Rachtman, Additional Music – Jamshief Sharifi, Art Direction – Dima Malanitchev. Production Company – Paramount/Nickelodeon/Klasky Csupo


E.G. Daily (Tommy Pickles), Christine Cavanaugh (Chuckie), Cheryl Chase (Angelica Pickles), Kath Soucie (Philip de Ville/Lillian de Ville/Betty de Ville), Melanie Chartoff (Minka Pickles/Didi Pickles), Jack Riley (Stu Pickles), Joe Alaskey (Grandpa Lou), Tara Charendoff (Dylan Pickles), Whoopi Goldberg (Ranger Margaret), David Spade (Ranger Frank), Tim Curry (Rex Pester), Tony Jay (Dr Werner P. Lipschitz)


Tommy Pickles’ mother gives birth to a new baby boy, Dylan. However, Tommy soon starts to fight with Dylan over having to share his toys. The other Rugrats come up with the idea of returning Dylan to the hospital. They load him up into the Reptar, a new hi-tech baby carriage designed by Tommy’s grandfather. However, this goes out of control, taking the Rugrats out onto the street and onto the back of a truck, which then crashes, plunging the Reptar down into the woods. The Rugrats become lost in the woods where they are menaced by a wolf and a horde of mischievous escaped circus monkeys.

Rugrats (1991-4, 1997-2004) was an animated tv series on the US Nickelodeon children’s channel. Rugrats was created by Gabor Csupo, later the director of Bridge to Terabithia (2007), and his wife Arlene Klasky, who both produced the show throughout its run. The basic set-up centred around four babies (and various others at different times) who could speak in their own language. The humour in the series revolved around their frequent misinterpretation of the adult world. (Csupo and Klasky came up with the idea for the series from their own newborn infant). Rugrats became Nickelodeon’s most popular series during its run – after initially being cancelled, the reruns proved so popular that the series was revived. The show was later sequelized as All Grown Up (2003-7), which lasted for 55 episodes, showing the regular characters on the cusp of adolescence ten years after their adventures here.

This was the first of three Rugrats movie spinoffs (see below for the others). Even among the fans of the series, The Rugrats Movie has divided opinion – indeed, the adoption of the character of Dylan into the subsequent series after he was introduced here is fairly much regarded as the point that Rugrats “jumped the shark.” I must admit to having an intense loathing of the type of children’s fantasy that the film and series specialises in – the sort of entertainment that regards the mere throwing in of poop and pee jokes as the height of humour, not to mention smartass kids making kids making pop culture references. That said, Rugrats does have a good many adult fans.

The film comes with a good deal of excruciatingly inane humour and much in the way of jokes about kids pooping and peeing in their diapers. There is even an opening kiddie parody of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). It is all directed at a frenetic slapstick pace. Despite the series ostensibly offering up a more sarcastic and earthy take on the usual kiddie film, the film is still infected with the same tweeness – the kids still do cute things and it all ends on cliched warm fuzzies and a banal message about familial brotherhood. There are also a number of insipid songs.

The subsequent Rugrats films were:– Rugrats in Paris: The Movie (2000) and Rugrats Go Wild/The Rugrats Meet the Wild Thornberrys (2003), which I’ll probably get around to reviewing when I can drum up adequate resolve to watch more.

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