Western Animation: The Rugrats Movie

The Rugrats Movie, as the title says, is the first of three movies based on the Klasky-Csupo-produced Nickelodeon cartoon Rugrats. Released to theaters on November 20, 1998, it was the third theatrical film released by Nickelodeon Movies and also their first animated one. It was also a huge Western Animation milestone, becoming the first non-Disney animated feature to gross $100 million in the United States.

Released between the show's fifth and sixth seasons, the plot concerns the Rugrats having to deal with an unhappy amount of changes that have come as a result of the birth of Tommy's new baby brother, Dil (who for some reason can't talk like the rest of them). Tommy feels he's being neglected by his parents in favor of Dil, and the other babies feel he's an obnoxious clingy twit. Things get worse when the babies get stranded in the forest with Stu's new toy, the Reptar Wagon, and a bunch of monkeys who have escaped from a traveling circus. Will the babies learn to cope with Dil and make it back home?

See also Rugrats in Paris and Rugrats Go Wild! for the sequels.

This film contains examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: When Rex Pester lists the babies that have gone missing, he gets all their names wrong.
  • Adult Fear: Your children (including a newborn) are lost in a forest, where they're in danger of the elements, rogue circus animals, and each other.
    • And the ones older than the newborn are all under age four. Heck, three out of five of the remaining children are under two.
    • Also this dialogue when police woman Lt. Klavin is asking Didi important questions about her missing kids.
    Lt. Klavin: Mrs. Pickles, does your son have any enemies?
    Didi: Oh...
    Lt. Klavin: Uh-huh. Any underworld or mob connections?
    Didi: He is a baby!
  • Adults Are Useless: Averted for a change. 'Cause this time around, the situation is actually very serious.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The movie has "Winter's Review" by SHAZNA as its theme song in the Japanese dub.
  • Award Bait Song: Take Me There by Mya feat. Blackstreet, Mase, & Blinky Blink
  • Big Damn Heroes: Spike, just as the wolf is ready to pounce.
    • Chuckie, Phil and Lil have one, using the Reptar Wagon to rescue Tommy and Dil from the monkeys.
  • Big Damn Movie: The show never had the babies going on this kind of adventure. Most of the adventures within the show were purely in the imagination of the babies, or were adventures through relatively mundane environments that would seem fascinating and new to a young child. The movie, on the other hand, has them literally lost in the wilderness.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Angelica Pickles, although downplayed from the show—she's not afraid of looking obnoxious by singing about how awful babies are in front of the adults, at any rate.
  • Book Ends: Began and ended with the "Okeydokey Jones" game of pretend
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Reptar wagon, and Dactar.
    • The Circus Monkeys
    • The pocket watch that Stu gives Tommy to show him the responsibility his son now has as a big brother. Tommy's "sponsitility" watch becomes very vital to the plot.
    • The babies end up in a Mattress Truck that Stu accidentally causes to swerve and crash into the forest. While the babies are of course unharmed, the aftermath of the Mattress Truck accident is the first scene of investigation for the Parents.
      • Dil's pacifier falls out of the Reptar Wagon on to the road. Later when Spike is towing Angelica across the road, Spike finds the pacifier on the ground and stops. But Angelica keeps going, and Spike is tugged along on his leash as he and Angelica fall into a ditch in the woods. Later, When the police and the adults are investigating the Mattress Truck Accident, Lt. Klavin finds Dil's pacifier and shows it to Stu and Didi, who gasp in shock.
    • The goat that Grandpa Boris gives to Didi
  • The Chew Toy: Rex Pester. Being an arrogant nosy, jerk reporter in a kids' cartoon movie it is kind of expected.
    • First, Stu accidentally slams into his helicopter while riding Dectar, ripping out the throttle sending him crashing into the forest.
    Rex (sobbing): And I never won an Emmy!
    • He later reappears with an arm in a sling, pushing away another reporter already on the scene. He is promptly attacked by the monkeys who steal his toupee, with Betty cheering them on.
    Rex: No! Not my toupeť! No!
    Betty: (laughs) Go get him, you little simians!
    Charlotte: Hey, Rex! Time for your closeup!
    Chaz: [in mock sympathy] Oh dear, too bad.
  • Clothing Damage: Each of the rugrats especially Angelica's outfits get damaged while in the woods, Stu's also gets damaged when he crashes through the shed on his Dactar plane. Even Cynthia is looking pretty ragged by the end.
  • Cousin Oliver: Dil. After all, this is his debut.
  • Darker and Edgier: All the great memories we had of Rugrats are on display here; life-threatening situations, murderous animals, psychological tension tearing the group apart, the works.
  • Death Glare: Tommy has a few of these when he loses it and blows up at Dil. It's one of the things that causes Dil to change.
  • Description Cut: Didi explains that Stu and Drew are brothers and they get along wonderfully. Cut to them fighting.
  • Determinator: Pretty much all the main cast. The babies searching for "the Lizard" to get home, Angelica searching for Cynthia, and the adults searching for the kids.
  • Disney Death: Spike who saves the babies from the huge vicious wolf, ending with both of them falling of the bridge and over a waterfall.†Fortunately, Spike manages to survive by landing at the bottom of the bridge.
    • Also, for a brief second Phil, as Lil thinks a tree fell on him, but he really accidentally left his shoes behind as he ran for cover.
  • Disney Villain Death: The Wolf, who's pulled off the bridge by Spike into the River.
  • Eureka Moment: When Chaz & Howard notice baby footprints and wheel tracks in the woods, the adults realize the kids are in the woods, on the Reptar Wagon. When Drew angrily calls Stu out on this, it gives Stu the idea to find the kids on his Dactar Glider.
    Stu: They must be in my Reptar Wagon!
    Drew [sarcastically]: "It's the perfect children's toy!" [angrily] You and your stupid inventions!
    Stu [thinking]: My stupid inventions...That's IT!
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Until Tommy opens Dil's banana baby food and turns it into a subversion. Then un-subverted once the Circus owners find them and they give Rex his comeuppance.
  • Fake-Out Opening: The Rugrats in a "Okeydokey Jones" fantasy sequence.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The monkeys that take over their owners' circus train and end up crashing it into the forest.
    • The wolf that Spike pulls Angelica away from in the beginning returns to menace the kids later. The wolf itself is subtly foreshadowed by the remarks about Little Red Riding Hood by the babies when they first get lost.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The song sung by the babies in the maternity ward is chock full of dick jokes — including one baby staring down his diaper and singing "so THAT'S what that thing looks like!" — as well as one baby commenting that her cord's been cut, which causes a male one to look in his diaper and exclaim "Consider yourself lucky!".
    • When the mothers are discussing how Dr. Lipschitz has predicted that Dil will be a girl, Charlotte starts to say "Born under Venus, look for a—" before her phone cuts her off.
    • Dr. Lipschitz, who is revealed in one episode to be a borderline quack, has a name that sounds like "lip shits".
    • When Angelica asks Drew "How come you told mommy that Aunt Didi got saddled with a loser?" Stu is, understandably, insulted.
    • When Tommy's "diapie" falls down while speaking to the other babies at one point, Lil is visibly enjoying the view more than the boys.
  • Gross Out Show: Dil pees on the other Rugrats as they attempt to change his diaper at one point.
    • Or the "fountain" during the musical number. Rainbow at the end aside...
  • Hartman Hips: Miriam Pickles.
  • Heel Realization: When Tommy is about to pour Dil's banana baby food on him and let the monkeys take him, Dil realizes that he's been a real brat and hugs his brother to apologize. Dil spends the rest of the movie being nice to Tommy and helping the rest of the babies escape the monkeys.
  • Heroic Dog : As (ironically) the wolf realized, Spike is more than ready to go Papa Wolf to protect the children.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Spike. Or at least it seems this way at first.
  • Heroic BSOD: Lil has one after she thinks Phil was crushed by a tree.
  • High-Pressure Emotion: Drew Pickles' head boils red after finding out his brother lost Angelica. One guess as to what Drew attempts to do afterwards.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Twice, Ranger Frank gives Ranger Margaret some helpful advice, before promptly acting like the opposite of the advice he just told her.
    Ranger Frank: You see Margaret, out here in the country, you have to be just a little tougher. (sees the Reptar Wagon floating in the river from his telescope): AAAH!! THE DRAGON I JUST SAW IT I SAW IT!
    Ranger Margaret: Where where? (looks through the telescope) Here? Where?
    • Later when the adults arrive at the ranger station and discuss the situation,
    Ranger Frank: I know you rookies can get excited and lose your heads, but veterans like me know the key is to remain calm and cool and collected.
    (the adults enter; panicking; Frank falls from his chair)
    Didi: Please! Our kids are lost in the storm! You've got to help us!
    Ranger Frank (delirious) : There's dragons out there! I'm a park ranger! not a knight at a Round Table! GO FIND SOMEONE WITH A LANCE!
    Ranger Margaret: Never mind him. Come with me!
    (Margaret leaves with the adults, leaving Frank whimpering and crying hysterically)
  • Just Train Wrong: You can't just stop a freight train at a station for a coffee break like it's a car at a rest stop. Also why is there a 19th century steam train operating in the late 90's? While circus trains still exist today, they use modern locomotives and rolling stock and the train operators are not affiliated with the circus. There would also be numerous safety regulations that would not allow leaving a loaded and operational circus train unattended.
  • Kick the Dog: Rex is full of these moments, such as harassing Didi about how she'll "never see her children again".
  • Laser-Guided Karma: At the end, arrogant Jerk Ass reporter Rex Pester (already injured from Stu accidentally causing his chopper to crash) finally meets his karma when being ambushed by the circus monkeys, to everyone's amusement
  • The Load: Dil.
  • Meaningful Name: Rex Pester, the nosy and irritating reporter covering the lost kids' story.
  • Missed Him by That Much: When Stu is speeding his car after Grandpa Lou lost the kids, he's right behind the mattress delivery truck that the babies are currently inside of. The truck door opens briefly, but Stu isn't watching the road at that moment, as he's talking to Grandpa. ("We'll never find the babies with this jerk in front of us!") Then the truck door closes shut just as Stu turns his attention back to the road. Stu then inadvertently causes the truck to swerve and crash through the guard rail and roll off the road, into the forest. Good thing the truck driver jumped out just in time.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Tommy's diaper falls down because of Dil during an argument at one point, and it quickly dissolves all the tension in the scene while the other kids start giggling.
  • Narrator: Chuckie, very briefly at the beginning and the end.
  • Never My Fault: It's quite clear that the entire mess is Grandpa Lou's fault, who once again fell asleep while watching the kids. Grandpa tells Didi that Stu lost the kids, but Didi doesn't buy it. They both call Grandpa out on this.
    Grandpa: Einstein here lost the kids.
    Stu: I lost the kids?
    Grandpa: See?
    [Didi gasps and drops her grocery bag, sending all products rolling on the floor]
    • Later when the police arrive at the scene:
    Didi: I can't believe you left them with your father! The man slept through Pearl Harbor for heaven's sake!
    Grandpa: I sounded the alarm as soon as I could!
    • Also the fact that the babies are lost in the woods is the twins' fault, as they tried to put Dil in the wagon against Tommy's wishes and Chuckie tried to talk them out of it, but they wouldn't listen. Tommy even calls the twins out on it, while Chuckie is just in the middle of the argument.
    Phil: This is all Dil's fault, right, Chuckie?
    Chuckie': Uh...
    Tommy: Nuh-uh! This never would've happened if you guys hadn't put him in the wagon in the first place! Right, Chuckie?
    Chuckie: Uh...Nuh-uh?
  • Papa Wolf: ALL of the dads are alarmed at the loss of their children but Drew takes the cake, preparing to strangle Stu for losing his daughter. And this is toward his younger brother!
  • Plot Hole: When Stu & Grandpa go to the airport control tower and check to see if the kids are on the plane where the crate is, but find out the goat is there instead. This makes no sense; There's no possible way the goat would've made it on to the plane, as x-ray scanners at airport security would've detected it.
  • Police Are Useless: Played straight with Ranger Frank who is too busy deliriously ranting about the "dragon" (actually the Reptar Wagon) he saw to be of any use to the Parents, but averted with Ranger Margaret.
    Ranger Frank: There's dragons out there! I'm a park ranger! not a knight at a Round Table! GO FIND SOMEONE WITH A LANCE!
    Ranger Margaret: Never mind him! Come with me!
    (Margaret leaves with the parents, leaving Frank whimpering and sobbing hysterically)
  • Predators Are Mean: The wolf. For the most part it acts like a normal wolf, but the one trait that puts it more on the evil end of the scale is that it spends most of the movie specifically targeting the babies.
  • Rage Breaking Point: After saving him from the monkeys, Dil's constant selfishness finally pushes Tommy over the edge, and he promptly chews him out.
  • Raiders of the Lost Parody: The film has an entire opening Fake-Out Opening recreating the first scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark straight down to the original score. Hell, Tommy dons the moniker and outfit of Indy, or "Okeydokey Jones", later on in the movie.
  • Refuse to Rescue the Disliked:
    • Dil gets taken by a pack of runaway circus monkeys. Tommy sets off to rescue him, and asks Chuckie, Phil, and Lil if they're going to help him. Phil and Lil refuse, because they see Dil as nothing but a nuisance. Chuckie refuses to help Tommy by reminding him of all the times throughout the movie he didn't help him (because at those times, Dil needed his attention).
    • This is repeated later in the movie, when Chuckie suffers a Heel Realization and insists they go back to help Tommy. Phil and Lil again refuse, reminding him he only cared about Dil's well being rather than his. Chuckie makes the meek reasoning "Well someone has to...don't they?". It seems to work.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Tommy briefly gives this to Dil after the latter selfishly drinks all the milk leaving Tommy nothing, and after Dil refused to share the blanket and laughing at Tommy when he fell in the mud.
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation
  • Scared of What's Behind You: At the climax, the monkeys corner the babies, but suddenly flee. The babies cheer... only to turn and see a huge vicious wolf slowly stalking them ready to pounce. Thankfully, Spike saves them just in time.
  • Selfless Wish: The babies are very willing to make one. Rather than wish to go home like they originally wanted, they wish to get Spike back.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sleep Cute: Tommy and Dil under the blanket, under the tree.
  • The Stinger: After the closing credits, we see Grampa sleeping in the Reptar Wagon...which the goat then accidentally knocks onto the road.
  • Toilet Humor: Frequently, such as when the babies in the nursery make a pee rainbow.
  • You Need a Breath Mint: When the wolf is stalking Spike and Angelica. Angelica, oblivious to the wolf, smells its breath and thinks it's from Spike. Spike notices the wolf and quickly manages to drag the unsuspecting Angelica out of the wolf's clutches.