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Review: John Eng and Norton Virgien’s Rugrats Go Wild! on Paramount DVD

Since the odors on the accompanying Scratch and Sniff card aren’t very strong, make sure your baby’s bottom is clean before watching the film.

2.5

Rugrats Go Wild!

An on-screen collision between the Rugrats and the Thornberrys was inevitable and, for most of its running time, Rugrats Go Wild! successfully exploits a series of run-ins between the two clans. Perhaps because the film follows so closely on the heels of The Wild Thornberrys Movie, the life-affirming Thornberrys play second fiddle to the Rugrats. Because the Rugrats have always been more subversive than the Thornberrys, this heavy focus in one direction works for the most part. The Rugrats happen to the Thornberrys when Stu Pickels (Jack Riley) gets his friends and family stuck on a deserted island after their dinky cruise ship sinks. Bitchy Angelica (Cheryl Chase) convinces Tommy that he has “a diaper full of dreams,” so it’s only a matter of time before the little tyke’s island adventures prove her wrong. Angelica steals the show, of course—when she isn’t engaging The Lord of the Flies, she belts out Joel Hirshhorn and Al Kasha’s “The Morning After” (from The Poseidon Adventure) to keep the troops entertained. No other song-and-dance number is anywhere near as good, but they’re all pretty easy to forgive considering the ridiculous flashes of absurdity, none more notable than Lil forcing her brother Phil to give up eating bugs (which subsequently forces him to take on a Smeagol-like personality). Stu is emasculated and wins everyone’s graces by film’s end and a curiously ennobled Debbie Thornberry gets quality time from her parents. The film does lose focus toward the end and kind of putters to a close (a series of underwater scenes may prove to be a little disturbing for younger kids), but there’s no offending sermon to talk down to the film’s demographic.

Image/Sound

Paramount always treats the Rugrats and Thornberrys well, and their first big-screen team-up is available here in widescreen and full screen versions. Don’t expect Pixar-style animation, but the transfer is gorgeous nonetheless. Colors are vibrant and grain and edge enhancement are nil. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track is crystal clear and features some truly expansive discrete effects. The stormier scenes in the film and running water on the island pack considerable punch.

Extras

Nothing spectacular here: three deleted songs, one outtake, and an alternate ending, all in unfinished form; a behind-the-scenes featurette with Chrissie Hynde and Bruce Willis singing in the studio; and an interactive trivia game that rewards you with a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Tom “Darwin” Kane in action. Also included here are previews of various SpongeBob SquarePants and Jimmy Neutron videos, a Tak and the Power of JuJu promo, and a trailer for The Wild Thornberrys Movie.

Overall

Since the odors on the accompanying Scratch and Sniff card aren’t very strong, make sure your baby’s bottom is clean before watching the film.

Cast: Joe Alaskey, Nancy Cartwright, Lacey Chabert, Cheryl Chase, Tim Curry, E.G. Daily, Flea, Danielle Harris, Kath Souce, Tara Strong, Tom Kane, Cree Summer, Chrissie Hynde, Bruce Willis Director: John Eng, Norton Virgien Screenwriter: Kate Boutilier Distributor: Paramount Home Video Running Time: 90 min Rating: PG Year: 2003 Release Date: December 16, 2003 Buy: Video, Soundtrack

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