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Sunday, 24 April 2016

Weekend TV Movie Review: The Rugrats Movie - Film 4 (1998)

The Rugrats Movie
Cast: Elizabeth Daily, Christine Kavanagh, Kath Soucie, Melanie Chartoff, Phil Proctor, Tara Strong, Jack Riley, Cree Summer, Melanie Chartoff, Busta Rhymes, Tress MacNeille, Tim Curry, David Spade, Iggy Pop, Whoopi Goldberg, Lisa Loeb, Margaret Cho
Estimated Worldwide Gross: $140,894,685

Plot: Tommy Pickles tries to return his baby brother, Dil to the hospital after being warned by his mean-spirited friend, Angelica that once his new sibling is born his parents won't care about him. But, soon after they embark on the mission, Tommy and his friends lose their way in the woods and get into trouble with a pack of wild monkeys who have escaped from the circus. The kids begin to think that maybe things weren't so bad at home after all. 

'The Last Of The Best of The Rugrats Before They Grew Up, & With That Came The Decline'

It has been a long, long time since I tuned into the Nickelodeon Kids animated series, Rugrats. 

One of my favourite cartoons from the 1990s decade, it certainly has its moments, thanks to the clan of toddlers, comprising of Chuckie, Tommy, Phil & Lil' and their never-ending adventures. So when the movie came out in 1998, I avoided it for a long while. Until I saw it in full on Film Four. It did get a lot of promotion and publicity hype, thanks to Nickelodeon, and it wasn't long until the popularity of the Rugrats animated series soon soared to new heights. 

The movie also introduced a new character: the addition of baby brother Dil. When Dil is born, the kids don't seem to get along with him, with Tommy feeling the brunt of his parents increasing attention towards his younger sibling. When the babies find themselves lost in the forest, they are left fending for themselves and trying to take Dil back to the hospital. But that in itself isn't as straightforward as it seems. Later on, Angelica begins to tag along when her doll, Cynthia goes missing. 

One of the aspects that is emphasized quite a lot and is a running theme throughout this movie was that as siblings and having brothers and sisters, that no matter how much they may get on our nerves, they are still flesh and blood to us and it is a relationship that we have to get used, as we grow up. As kids and whilst transitioning into adulthood. The bond between Tommy and Dil was well- written and we see from the beginning to the end, Tommy's jealousy and dislike towards his brother disappears when he realises that not only does he need him, they need to be there for each other through the tough times, as well as good ones. The scene where Tommy is sleeping beside Dil in the woods was really moving and sweet - yet sad & heartbreaking also, I shed a few tears. Dil was a cutie and is a good addition to the Rugrats crew. 

The first feature film outing for the little toddlers, it also features a celebrity voice cast that includes Whoopi Goldberg, actor David Spade, rapper Busta Rhymes, and pop stars Beck, Iggy Pop and Lisa Loeb alongside the regular character voice actors in the late Christine Kavanagh, Cree Summer (who is mostly known to A Different World fans as Freddie), Elizabeth Daily, Tara Strong and Charlie Adler. 

Sadly, the decline of the Rugrats began with Kimi's arrival and continued into the latter years when the rugrats grew up and became kids. Though fans have cited this movie as the beginning of the downfall of the franchise, for me, as soon as Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil and Dil were no longer toddlers, & Kimi turned up, it pretty much signalled the end of the Rugrats. It's a shame really because Nickelodeon had a good run going by not having the kids growing up. And when they did, the episodes were less amusing, fun and interesting as a result. 

Nonetheless, the animation is fantastic with vibrant colours, interesting motion picture soundtrack, with a stellar voice cast and the story is good.

It has everything a Rugrats fan would expect it would have in a feature-length movie, and because it is longer, you get more of an insight into the babies thoughts, feelings and emotions, as they all try and come to terms with Dil's presence, but with Phil & Lil and Angelica feeling more animosity towards Dil than Tommy and Chuckie. 

Speaking of Angelica, she is her usual b****y self and is the same character as she is in the TV series. 

Final Verdict:

As I write this, it is almost 20 years since this movie was released and it still holds up well today. It is still the best Rugrats movie by far, in addition to it being the last of the best years we have seen of Tommy and co. 

Amusing, poignant and sad at times, with a well-told story & great animation production values from Klasky-Csupo via Nickelodeon Movies & heart, for their first outing in The Rugrats Movie, it was well worth the journey. 


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