Yes, your favorite characters from the small screen Nickelodeon cartoon look bigger than life on the movie screen. The story opens with an imaginary Indiana Jones-style adventure with Tommy, Chucky, Phil and Lil with the little tots about to be run over by a runaway bolder that ends in a clever transition into the kids about to be run over by Mrs. Pickles very pregnant tummy. The conflict involves the arrival of Tommy Pickles baby brother, appropriately named Dillon (or Dill Pickes for short). After Baby Dill arrives, the kids become lost in the forest after an unwelcome ride in Daddy Pickles’ motorized baby carriage. The parents mount a search which gains media attention as the kids try to battle the residents of the forest including a group of delightful circus monkeys.
The situations and characters are hilarious. It’s strange to watch something that appeals to such a broad demographic – from young parents in their thirties to two year-olds – each group laughing at two very different levels of humor. The writing is smart and there is enough for parents to want to bring back their kids. One of the most humorous sequences is a musical number in the maternity ward (featuring the voices of Iggy Pop, Lisa Loeb and members of the B-52s, the soundtrack is great) in which a bunch of newborns pee into the air creating a beautiful fountain. The biggest laugh from the kids in the audience came when Tommy Pickles’ diaper fell down exposing his bare bottom to the audience – I’ve never heard a crowd of single-digit aged kids laugh harder in a movie theater.
The Rugrats seems to have replaced Star Trek as Viacom’s most successful franchise.
There are two main reasons for the success of this film: ^ 1) It is based on a successful existing franchise and ^ 2) The Rugrats Movie DOES NOT try to follow the Disney formula of musical animated feature. (In fact, there is a funny reference to Disney as a group of cute animals, not unlike those seen in Bambi are grazing in the forest when Tommy and the gang tear through the animals in a runaway Reptar baby carriage.) ^
It’s refreshing to see an animated film remain true to its audience and avoid becoming a Disney-clone. Diaper-loads of fun.