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The Rugrats - a group of precocious babies and toddlers - are taken on a sea voyage by their parents. When the boat skippered by Stu Pickles (voice of Jack Riley) capsizes in heavy weather, the families become marooned on a desert island. Or so they think. By sheer coincidence, world-famous explorers and documentary-makers Sir Nigel and Marianne Thornberry (Tim Curry and Jodi Carlisle) are filming a wildlife program nearby. When the Rugrats meet the Thornberry's and their daughters Debbie (Danielle Harris) and Eliza (Lacey Chabert), a hair-raising series of adventures follows as everyone attempts to make it safely from the island back to civilization.

Review by Richard Kuipers:
The third film in the Rugrats series failed dramatically in the US and it's not hard to understand why. Overstuffed with characters and tangential incidents, it is a relentlessly loud and noisy offering that won't thrill ankle-biters or their parents. The idea of teaming up the Rugrats and Nickelodeon stablemates The Wild Thornberrys must have seemed like a shrewd corporate move but the results are disappointing because the film lacks focus and there is no strong central storyline driving the drama.

The film never advances beyond the first act as the talkative tiny tots and the goofy family of adventurers encounter each other on a desert island. Accommodating a huge list of characters and a handful of songs leaves very little time to make anything cohesive out of this animation all-star vehicle. One of its most annoying elements is the volume and density of the character's voices. The shrill tones of hysterical mother Charlotte Pickles (Tress MacNeille) and bossy Rugrat Angelica (Cheryl Chase) are intensely grating and the barrage of cranked-up sound effects doesn't help either. It's hard to warm to many of the Rugrat characters in these conditions, though the Thornberry's are an amusing and endearing bunch. This may not be their movie but the kooky family supply whatever amusements this mish-mash offers.

Anyone who caught the delightful Wild Thornberry's Movie earlier this year will once again be charmed by plummy-voiced Sir Nigel, his level-headed wife Marianne, valley-girl daughter Debbie (Danielle Harris) and sweet Eliza (Lacey Chabert ) who talks to the animals including Rugrat dog Spike (Bruce Willis). The animation itself is technically impressive, with detailed and vividly -coloured backdrops contrasting effectively with the simple, caricature-style human figures. Mark Mothersbaugh's songs make a lively contribution to a children's film that is good fun in patches but without a cohesive story we're left with one-liners and set-pieces that don't add up to much in the end. It arrives loaded with film references aimed at adults (e.g. The Perfect Storm, Planet Of The Apes, Titanic) but doesn't have the dual-level dialogue of Toy Story or Shrek to keep grown-ups amused beyond the occasional sight gag.

Kids that love the characters will probably find it entertaining enough but it's hard to imagine too manydemands for repeat viewings. A minor holiday item, Rugrats Go Wild does hold the distinction of being the first film presented in scratch'n'sniff Odorama since John Waters' Polyester in 1981. Lucky audiences at selected cinemas will be able to enjoy this ridiculous gimmick that, for some, may end up being the most memorable part of this particular Rugrats experience.

Special features include an alternate ending, behind the scenes featurette and deleted scenes including three extra songs.

Published April 29, 2004

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VOICES: Elizabeth Daily, Nancy Cartwright, Lacey Chabert, Tim Curry, Flea, Danielle Harris, Bruce Willis

DIRECTOR: John Eng, Norton Virgien

SCRIPT: Kate Boutilier

RUNNING TIME: 81 minutes

PRESENTATION: widescreen; dolby digital 5.1 surround sound

SPECIAL FEATURES: alternate ending, behind the scenes feature, deleted scenes including three extra songs


DVD RELEASE: April 8, 2004

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