For those who liked their comedy laced with poo jokes and boogers, those diaper-wearing Rugrats were a dream come true. Already the stars of one of the most popular cartoons on cable, the baby kings of comedy got their own animated feature in 1998, The Rugrats Movie. And with celebrity guest voices from Whoopi Goldberg, David Spade, Tim Curry and others, and a soundtrack that included Iggy Pop, Lou Rawls and Devo, it was okay if parents wanted to come watch, too.
TV regulars Tommy Pickles (the adventuresome leader), best friend Chuckie Finster (the carrot-topped worrywart), fraternal twins Phil and Lil DeVille, Tommy’s bossy older cousin Angelica and assorted parents all made the jump to the big screen, but there was a surprise new addition to the Pickles household...
After a Raiders of the Lost Ark opening spoof (wherein the intrepid tykes try to raid the refrigerator), Tommy and company learn that mom Didi Pickles is going to have another baby. The Rugrats first meet little Dil Pickles in the maternity ward, where a group of newborns-with voices from Jacob Dylan, Beck, Lisa Loeb, Lenny Kravitz and many more-launch into in improv musical number, “This World is Something New to Me,” complete with rainbow showers of pee pee.
Back home, Tommy starts to learn what it means to be big brother to a new baby: nobody pays attention to you, and the new kid’s just a grabby little brat. Deciding there must be some kind of defect with the boy, Tommy, Chuckie, Phil and Lil load up in Stu Pickles’ newly-invented “Reptor Wagon” and head out to return infant Dil to the hospital.
Unfortunately, toddlers aren’t very good with directions. The Rugrats get lost in the woods, encountering scary noises, a big bad wolf and a bunch of escaped circus monkeys. The parents are frantic, and even Angelica gets in on the search and rescue operation… once she learns her favorite doll is out there with the “babies,” that is.
Surprising smarty-pants adults everywhere, The Rugrats Movie brought kids in by the droves, becoming the biggest non-Disney animated film ever (though it soon lost its crown to The Prince of Egypt). Kids who had grown up on the TV show (which had been running since 1991) made second, third and fourth visits to the theater, dragging along anyone with a driver’s license and enough cash for tickets.
Still going strong on television (after a two-year hiatus from 1994-96), the Rugrats show no signs of getting old or even growing up. A film sequel, Rugrats in Paris: The Movie, arrived in November 2000, and the baby-fied antics continued.