Rugrats Go Wild is a 2003 American animated comedy crossover film based on the Nickelodeon animated television series Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys. It is the third and final animated film in the Rugrats film series as well as the second film in The Wild Thornberrys series. Christine Cavanaugh, the voice of Chuckie Finster, was replaced by Nancy Cartwright. The film was produced by Nickelodeon Movies and Klasky Csupo and released in theaters on June 13, 2003, by Paramount Pictures. With a worldwide gross of $55.4 million, it is the lowest grossing of the three Rugrats films.
The film used "Odorama," which allowed people to smell odors and aromas from the film using scratch and sniff cards (reminiscent of 1960s Smell-O-Vision), and it was not used again theatrically for eight years, until the release of Spy Kids: All the Time in the World.
The Rugrats go on an adventure through the safari. Tommy impersonates Nigel Thornberry, who is his role model and spoofs his nature show. The babies' broadcast is cut short when they come across a tiger and then a crocodile, both of which threaten them. Just as they begin sinking in quicksand and are nearly attacked, this is revealed as only imagination; the babies and their families are about to go on vacation on the Lipschitz cruise ship.
When the families arrive at the dock, they miss the Lipschitz cruise. Tommy's father, Stu, has rented a ramshackle boat called the S.S. Nancy which he reveals to be their real mode of transportation, and their real vacation. The families are angered that Stu did not consult them on his plans, and soon the boat is flipped over by a rogue wave during a tropical storm. Everyone is forced to abandon the ship and board a life raft as the ship sinks. Everyone blames Stu for causing all of this and lose hope of being saved. Things start looking up when Angelica sings about having hope on her karaoke machine (which resembles a toy piano) she brought, until Spike's tail accidentally knocks both her Cynthia doll and karaoke machine into the ocean.
The next morning, they arrive on a small, seemingly uninhabited island (possibly in Southeast Asia) and Angelica finds her Cynthia doll on the beach. The adults argue about who should be the leader. When it gets out of hand, Betty suggests a test: she draws a circle around the fighting adults and tells everyone to step out of the circle, saying that it is the bad circle. They all step out and say that they all feel better, except Stu, and make Betty the leader, much to Stu's chagrin.
On the opposite side of the island is the famous globe-trotting family the Thornberrys (out to film a clouded leopard). Tommy, Chuckie, and the rest of the kids, except for Angelica, set off to find them, for they suspect they are somewhere on the island. Along the way, Chuckie gets lost and runs into the Thornberry's Tarzan-like child Donnie, who steals Chuckie's clothes, forcing Chuckie to wear Donnie's shorts. He laments on looking like a "wild boy".
Meanwhile, Eliza, the gifted Thornberry, is exploring about the jungle with Darwin, her chimpanzee companion and runs into Spike, the Pickles' dog. Since Eliza can talk to animals, Spike (now voiced by Bruce Willis) talks for the first time (although he spoke in Chuckie's dream sequence in the episode "In the Dreamtime"); he informs her that his babies are lost somewhere on the island. Under the impression that Spike means he is looking for puppies, Eliza (and a reluctant Darwin) agree to help him find them. Following a close encounter with Siri, an angry clouded leopard whom Spike believes to be just a regular domestic cat, they learn that he meant the human babies.
Simultaneously, Eliza's father, Nigel, finds the lost babies. He heads in their direction but ends up tumbling down a hill and suffers amnesia after a coconut falls on his head. Angelica (going by "Angelitiki, the Island Princess") runs into Debbie, the teenage Thornberry, and takes off with Debbie in the Thornberry's all-purpose mobile communication vehicle (commvee). In order to get back faster, Angelica steals the Thornberry's bathysphere, accidentally sinking the commvee in her attempt to pilot it. She finds and retrieves the babies and Nigel.
Meanwhile Stu, who has managed to create a working coconut radio, and the other parents run into Donnie, who is still wearing Chuckie's shoes. After chasing him down the beach, they run into Marianne Thornberry, the mother of Eliza and Debbie and the wife of Nigel.
Stu's coconut radio picks up the babies, Angelica having accidentally turned on the bathysphere's radio. Angelica and Susie, while fighting for control, have crashed bathysphere at the bottom of the ocean. Nigel hits his head in the crash and regains his memories.
With the other parents' help, Marianne the raises the commvee and uses the automatic-retrieval system to rescue Nigel and the babies just as the air runs out. They are reunited with their families and forgive Stu, and everyone finally gets on board the Lipschitz cruise. The Thornberrys join them too, deciding that they should take a vacation, much to Debbie's delight. Spike vows never to lose his babies again.
Main characters from Rugrats
- E. G. Daily as Tommy Pickles
- Nancy Cartwright as Chuckie Finster
- Kath Soucie as Phil and Lil DeVille
- Dionne Quan as Kimi Finster
- Cheryl Chase as Angelica Pickles
- Tara Strong as Dil Pickles
- Cree Summer as Susie Carmichael
Supporting characters from Rugrats
- Jack Riley as Stu Pickles
- Melanie Chartoff as Didi Pickles
- Michael Bell as Drew Pickles and Chas Finster
- Julia Kato as Kira Finster
- Tress MacNeille as Charlotte Pickles
- Phil Proctor as Howard DeVille
- Kath Soucie as Betty DeVille
- Joe Alaskey as Grandpa Lou Pickles
- Tony Jay as Dr. Lipschitz. This was Jay's final film appearance before his death in August 2006.
The Wild Thornberrys
- Tim Curry as Nigel Thornberry
- Lacey Chabert as Eliza Thornberry
- Tom Kane as Darwin Thornberry
- Flea as Donnie Thornberry
- Danielle Harris as Debbie Thornberry
- Jodi Carlisle as Marianne Thornberry
- Bruce Willis as Spike (Rugrats)
- Chrissie Hynde as Siri the Sunda clouded leopard (The Wild Thornberrys)
- Ethan Phillips as Toa (The Wild Thornberrys)
- LL Cool J as Piki the Handmade Doll (uncredited)
Rugrats Go Wild was originally made by Klasky Csupo's television unit (directed by Mark Risley and written by Kate Boutilier), but after screenings, Paramount decided it should be shelved and remade into a feature film.
Among the biggest hype this movie received was Bruce Willis voicing Spike, and the use of "Odorama" cards to enhance the viewing experience, Burger King and Blockbuster released a scratch and sniff piece of cardboard that was to be scratched and sniffed during the run of the movie.
There were many complaints, that the only thing that the "Odorama" cards smelled like was cardboard. The Odorama card was somewhat of an homage to John Waters' (decidedly adult-oriented) film Polyester. Despite the homage, Waters felt he was ripped off and realized that New Line Cinema, the studio that released Polyester, didn't renew the copyright for Odorama. He later said that "a cheque would have been an homage".
"Odorama" cards would later be released with the DVD release of the movie. Early trailers for the film give the title The Rugrats Meet The Wild Thornberrys.
During its initial theatrical run, Rugrats Go Wild was presented in "Smell-O-Vision". During certain scenes in the movie, an icon would pop up on screen with an item inside of it (example: a smelly shoe). When this happened, audience members would smell a scratch-and-sniff card (which were handed out at the box office) with the corresponding image.
The film was released on videocassette and DVD on December 16, 2003. Most VHS copies included a "Smell-O-Vision" scratch-and-sniff card, as did most initial run DVDs. Later copies of the DVD did not include additional cards, but did retain the option to view the film with the scratch-and-sniff icons on. The film is also available as a part of the Rugrats 3-disc set of all three films, as well as a double feature 2-disc set that also included The Rugrats Movie. The film was re-released on DVD on August 29, 2017.
The film grossed $39.4 million domestically and $55.4 million worldwide against a production budget of $25 million. The film earned less than each of the other two Rugrats films. The film opened at #4 with Finding Nemo at the #1 spot.
On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes the film, has a 40% approval rating based on 88 reviews, with an average score of 5.02/10. The site's consensus reads: "The Rugrats franchise has gone from fresh to formulaic." Metacritic gives the movie a score of 38/100 based on reviews from 27 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.
Neil Smith at the BBC gave the film 2 out of 5. Film4 said the film wasn't that as bad as other reviews suggested but "it just doesn't hold a candle to 2002's charming and superior The Wild Thornberrys Movie".