The two worlds of the popular Klasky/Csupo Nickelodeon series come together when the Rugrats get shipwrecked on a deserted island and meet up with the Wild Thornberrys.
That means that we’re in for another mildly pleasant mix of malapropisms and pop culture references, diaper humor, snippets of rock classics, a little adventure, and a message about cooperation, taking care of each other, and the importance of family. It is pleasant for the kids and not too painful for their parents.
A couple of additions take this up a level from the television series. The first is the “Odorama” scratch and sniff card kids can pick up. When numbers appear in the corner of the screen, kids are directed by glow-in-the dark numbers on the card to scratch the spots to smell, adding a certain vivid piquance to scenes that feature jam, root beer, peanut butter, and stinky feet (that one is really vivid).
The second is Bruce Willis, who provides the voice of the Rugrats’ dog Spike when he meets up with Eliza Thornberry, who can talk to animals. Willis adds enormous charm and energy to the story, and as soon as he is on board, we know that any day-saving that needs to be done will be in good hands.
Parents should know that the movie has a lot of potty humor and gross jokes involving dog snot, bird poop, and barfing. We see some bare baby tushes. Characters are in peril but it is never really scary. A character who is bonked on the head loses his memory and thinks he is a child, which may be confusing or disturbing to some children. Parents may want to talk to children about some of the behavior of the characters to make sure that kids know they should not imitate what they see.
Families who see this movie should talk about why Angelica wants so badly to be able to boss people around and why it is so hard for her to be kind or generous. They should talk about the way the characters in the movie react when things go badly. At first, the adults blame each other but then they select a leader and begin to cooperate. How do we choose our heroes, and how do we know when what is on television is real? It is also worth talking about the way that Debbie Thornberry lets her parents know that she wants to spend more time with them — and to discuss your favorite “dorky family activities.”
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the other Rugrats and Thornberry movies. They might also like to see another shipwreck classic, Disney’s “Swiss Family Robinson.”