The Rugrats Movie is a 1998 animated adventure-comedy-drama film, the third theatrical film produced by Nickelodeon Movies, their first animated theatrical film, and the first movie based on the Nicktoon of the same name. The film was distributed by Paramount Pictures and released into theaters on November 20, 1998. Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics, the film became a box office success, grossing $140 million worldwide against its $24 million budget. It also became the first non-Disney animated film to gross over $100 million in the United States.
The film starts with a fantasy sequence parodying the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark, where Tommy and his friends are trying to obtain the artifact (actually an ice cream sundae in the refrigerator). Afterwards, the Rugrats are chased out of the temple by a boulder - which is actually Didi, pregnant with her and Stu's second child, which everyone believes will be a girl. Tommy is at first enthusiastic about having a younger sibling, although Angelica warns him that once the sibling is born, Stu and Didi will forget all about him. Eventually, the baby is born and turns out to be a boy,(it was going to be a girl) who they name Dil, after Didi's cousin.
Unfortunately, Angelica's words appear to be true when Dil quickly becomes very selfish, crying non-stop for attention, keeping all of the Rugrats' toys for himself, and refusing to share with Tommy. He also takes the attention of Didi and Stu, leading Tommy to feel ignored. After a particularly nasty fight between Tommy and Dil over Tommy's teddy bear, Stu has a conversation with Tommy about being a big brother and the responsibility he now has and assures him that one day he will be happy to have Dil as his little brother. He also gives Tommy a locket with a picture of Tommy and Dil taped together and a watch inside which he calls his "sponsitility", his term for responsibility.
Meanwhile, Dil pushes Chuckie, Phil, and Lil too far, and they decide to take him back to the hospital, despite Tommy's objections. They end up driving recklessly through the streets in a Reptar Wagon which Stu had built for a contest. Along the way, Dil secretly steals Angelica's Cynthia doll, which prompts her to take Spike and they embark on a quest to find the babies. Around the same time, a circus train suffers an accident in the same woods and a group of wild monkeys escape from the wreckage, while the monkeys' owners, the Banana Brothers, attempt to search for them. The parents soon discover their kids' absence, and call the police and rangers for help, and the news leaks out and reporters come to interview them.
The babies eventually crash in the woods, where they realize that they are lost. They spot a ranger's cabin where they believe a "lizard" (their mispronunciation of "wizard") lives, and decide to go there, believing that the wizard can take them home. Soon they come upon the circus monkeys, who then abduct Dil. Tommy vows to find Dil by himself, because Chuckie, Phil, and Lil agree they are better off without him. Tommy eventually finds Dil during a storm, and they are forced to take shelter under a tree. But as Tommy tries to take care of him, Dil selfishly drinks all of their milk and keeps a large blanket for himself, eventually tearing it in half and causing Tommy to fall into a puddle of mud. Tommy finally snaps and very nearly pours banana baby food on Dil for the monkeys to take him away, but Tommy's rage and the storm's lightning and thunder frighten Dil so much that he sees the error of his ways and turns over a new leaf. The brothers reconcile and sleep peacefully.
The next morning, the other babies find Tommy and Dil, and after running into Angelica and Spike, they make their way to the "lizard." While on a bridge, they are confronted by the monkeys but are then scared off by a wolf, who has been hunting down the babies since they arrived in the woods. Spike intervenes and fights the wolf until they both fall from the bridge to their apparent deaths. Meanwhile, Stu, who has been looking for the babies via aircraft, finally finds them, but crash lands into the ranger's cabin. Believing he is the "lizard," the babies wish for Spike back instead of going home. Stu then falls through the bridge and finds Spike, who had actually survived the fall. The babies are then reunited with their families, and the monkeys with their circus owners.
In the final scene, the babies are having the same imaginary adventure they had when the movie began, but this time are successful with Dil's help, finally accepting him as one of them.
In a post-credits scene, Grandpa Lou is sleeping in the Reptar wagon and Boris' goat pushes it down the street and chases after it, presumably starting another search all over again.
- E.G. Daily as Tommy Pickles
- Tara Strong as Dil Pickles
- Christine Cavanaugh as Chuckie Finster
- Kath Soucie as Phil and Lil DeVille and Betty DeVille
- Cheryl Chase as Angelica Pickles
- Jack Riley as Stu Pickles
- Melanie Chartoff as Didi Pickles
- Joe Alaskey as Grandpa Lou
- Michael Bell as Drew Pickles and Chas Finster
- Tress MacNeille as Charlotte Pickles
- Cree Summer as Susie Carmichael
- Michael Bell as Grandpa Boris
- Melanie Chartoff as Grandma Minka
- Phil Proctor as Howard Deville
- Tim Curry as Rex Pester
- Whoopi Goldberg as Ranger Margeret
- David Spade as Ranger Frank
- Frank Welker as the Wolf
- Hattie Winston as Dr. Lucy Carmichael
- Andrea Martin as Aunt Miriam
- Abraham Benrubi as Sergei
- Busta Rhymes as Reptar Wagon
- Roger Clinton, Jr. as Air Crewman
- Margaret Cho as Lt. Klavin
- Edie McClurg as Nurse
- Charlie Adler as United Express Driver
- Gregg Berger as Circus Television Announcer
- Tony Jay as Dr. Lipschitz
Talks about having Rugrats making it onto the big screen existed since the beginning of the series. The first attempt was in 1993, when Nickelodeon made a two-year contract deal with 20th Century Fox to produce new material, but a Nickelodeon executive did not rule out the possibility to make films based on their properties, one of those properties that mentioned was Rugrats, alongside Doug and The Ren & Stimpy Show, but the contract expired in 1995, with no movies produced (although Doug eventually got a theatrical film under Disney in March 1999). In 1994, Viacom acquired Paramount Pictures, and Paramount would distribute the movies instead; development on the movie immediately started a year later, after both the acquisition of Paramount and the expiration of the deal with Fox.
Two months before the movie's release, an episode prequel titled "The Family Tree" was aired as the twelfth episode of the show's fifth season. Both the film's beginning and ending parody Paramount and Lucasfilms' Indiana Jones film series. This later inspired the episode "Okey-Dokey Jones and the Ring of the Sunbeams" in the show's eighth season.
This film was the first Rugrats media to use digital ink and paint, rather than traditional cel animation in the show.
The film was released in theaters with a CatDog short titled "Fetch", in which Cat wins a radio contest and attempts to call in to claim his prize as Dog chases down his tennis ball. This short was later broadcast, with some slight edits, as part of an episode of CatDog's second season, though the original theatrical version would resurface as an interstitial on Nicktoons TV in 2002. However, the VHS and DVD releases of the movie included a different CatDog short, "Winslow's Home Videos".
The Rugrats Movie was released on November 20, 1998, and made US$27,321,470 in its opening weekend, from 2,782 theaters, averaging about $9,821 per venue and ranking as the #1 movie that weekend. In total, The Rugrats Movie made US$140,894,675, $100,494,675 from the domestic market and $40,400,000 from its foreign release. It also debuted #1 at the UK box office.
The Rugrats Movie was met with mixed to positive reactions from critics. It received a 59% on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, with 29 "Fresh" reviews and 20 "Rotten" reviews, certifying it as "Rotten".
- → Main article: The Rugrats Movie (video game)
A video game adaptation was released for Game Boy and Game Boy Color, with the former being released in December 1998 and the latter on February 28, 1999. Both games were developed by Software Creations and released by THQ. It was a side-scrolling game that featured 8 levels, with the plot revolving around finding Dil after he disappears.
- See also: Deleted scenes from Nickelodeon movies
Two scenes were cut from the film during production in order to bring the film to 85 minutes. The first sequence revolved around Stu and Didi in a nightmare sequence where Dr. Lipschitz berates their parenting through song. The other sequence occurs as the Rugrats are pushing the Reptar Wagon through the woods, debating what to do about Dil in army chant style. These two scenes were cut from the theatrical version and were not included in the VHS and DVD releases. However, they were already animated at the time, and the scenes are shown on the CBS and Nickelodeon TV airings of the film. Both scenes were also present in the print novelization.
- THE RUGRATS MOVIE. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on December 22, 2009.
- FABRIKANT, Geraldine (December 28, 1998). "'Prince of Egypt' Is No King at the Box-Office". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1998/12/28/business/prince-of-egypt-is-no-king-at-the-box-office.html?scp=4&sq=The%20Rugrats%20Movie&st=cse. Retrieved on December 24, 2009.
- "Rugrats top UK box office ". BBC. April 10, 2001. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/1270844.stm. Retrieved on 2010-11-13.
- Natale, Richard (November 23, 1998). "Rugrats' Outruns 'Enemy' ". The Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/1998/nov/23/entertainment/ca-46816. Retrieved on 2010-11-10.
- Welkos, Robert W. (November 24, 1998). "Weekend Box Office : 'Rugrats' Has Kid Power ". The Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/1998/nov/24/entertainment/ca-47071. Retrieved on 2010-11-10.
- The Rugrats Movie (1998). Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on December 22, 2009.
- The Rubrats Movie. IGN. Retrieved on December 22, 2009.
- Rugrats: The Movie. IGN. Retrieved on December 22, 2009.
- The Rugrats Movie. MobyGames. Retrieved on December 24, 2009.
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