When Rugrats Go Wild begins it has a mean-spiritedness and perilousness about it that takes you off guard; you just don't expect the threat of drowning in a kids' movie let alone yelling and screaming parents. Of course if your high-seas vacation left you stranded on a desert island with six kids eight adults and a dog you'd probably get a little testy too. Seems Tommy's dad rents a pathetic excuse for a boat to charter the waters much to the dismay of the other adults. When it capsizes a la The Poseidon Adventure the crew survive and end up floating around in a rubber craft blaming each other for their bad luck. When they find said island the parents try to figure out what to do next while Tommy decides the only person who can help them is his hero Nigel Thornberry (whom he calls Nigel "Strawberry") the Discovery Channel-esque explorer Tommy watches religiously on TV. The brave kid is convinced Thornberry is nearby and drags his friends along to seek him out. Guess what? Nigel and his family including his daughter Eliza the whiz kid who can talk to animals are on the island looking for a rare and rather surly leopard who would like to make snacks out of all the babies. Tommy and his friends have to overcome more than a few treacherous obstacles to find the Thornberrys be rescued and make it safely back to their sandboxes.
Is it me or do those Rugrats' voices grate on you like fingernails on a chalkboard? Watching Rugrats Go Wild and hearing the characters speak is really almost unbearable at times especially having to listen to wimpy Chuckie's stuffed-up cadence as voiced by Nancy Cartwright who's so excellent as the voice of Bart from The Simpsons. Cheryl Chase's screeching as the spoiled Angelica and Elizabeth Daily's cracked-voice slobbering as the intrepid hero Tommy aren't much better. It makes your teeth hurt just thinking about it again as you reach for a bottle of Advil. The vocal cast of The Wild Thornberrys--including Lacey Chabert as the kind-hearted Eliza and Tim Curry as the veddy British Nigel--aren't nearly as irritating. Maybe it's because there are fewer of them and none of them wear diapers. Then there's Spike Tommy's ever-faithful dog. Nickelodeon's big marketing push for the film is the fact Spike finally gets to be heard--and is voiced by the one and only Bruce Willis no less. Honestly who cares? The anticipation isn't nearly as exciting as say hearing Kenny from South Park or Maggie from The Simpsons speak for the first time. Spike is a dog; dogs aren't supposed to talk.
Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys are certainly not a match made in heaven. No doubt the execs at Nickelodeon thought combining two of their more successful shows into one big animated feature film would double the kids' pleasures but these twain should never have met. The worst of it is Rugrats Go Wild concentrates on the wrong show Rugrats even though The Wild Thornberrys is the more intelligent series of the two teaching children about the environment and the thrill of discovery while aiming at the adults with some clever humor. Last year's The Wild Thornberrys Movie was a thoroughly entertaining film with its lead Eliza--a not-too-precocious not-too-perfect sort of goofy-looking preadolescent--at its center. She's a great role model for an older set of kids. Rugrats on the other hand is much better suited to the very young with its simple messages of hearth and home. The two previous Rugrats movies--The Rugrats Movie and Rugrats in Paris--did fairly well at the box office for those reasons but Rugrats Go Wild just muddles the originality of each show and spirals into a chaotic mess of screeching kids whining teenagers and bickering adults.
Despite three new wide releases this weekend, kid pic Finding Nemo surprisingly found its way back to the top of the box office--and with a significant lead. The Buena Vista/Disney and Pixar Animation Studios computer-animated fish tale took in a strong $29.2 million, beating out this week's dumber, deader and faster options.
Nemo's still-weighty take was enough to beat last week's box office topper, 2 Fast 2 Furious, which settled in at No. 2 with $19.1 million. The high-octane actioner, however, stayed a lap ahead of the Jim Carrey comedy Bruce Almighty, which landed in third place with $14.2 million.
With its broad appeal and strong staying power, Nemo also snuffed-out this week's three new wide releases, Hollywood Homicide, Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd and the animated feature Rugrats Go Wild.
Paramounts Pictures' Rugrats movie, which brings together Nickelodeon's animated franchises The Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys, was hardly a match for Nemo. Oddly enough, the Nick pic garnered a PG rating for "mild crude humor," but unlike Nemo, it failed to appeal to adults and move beyond its target audience.
Ticket sales were slow this weekend compared to last year, but the box office should surge in next couple of weeks with the release of blockbusters such as The Hulk, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde.
THE TOP TEN
Buena Vista/Disney and Pixar Animation Studios' G rated computer-animated feature Finding Nemo jumped back to first place this week with an ESTIMATED $29.2 million (-37%) at 3,425 theaters (+34 theaters; $8,526 per theater). Its cume is approximately $192.3 million and headed for the $200 million mark.
Directed and co-written by Pixar veteran Andrew Stanton, it features the voices of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe and Brad Garrett.
Universal Pictures' PG-13-rated action-packed sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious fell back to No. 2 in its second week with an ESTIMATED $19.1 million (-62%) at 3,418 theaters (+10 theaters; $5,588 per theater). Its cume is approximately $84 million.
Directed by John Singleton, it stars Paul Walker, Tyrese, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser and Devon Aoki.
Universal Pictures' PG-13 Bruce Almighty remained in third place in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $14.2 million (-36%) at 3,477 theaters (-72 theaters; $4,084 per theater average). Its cume is approximately $193.8 million and headed for the $200 million mark.
Directed by Tom Shadyac, it stars Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston and Morgan Freeman.
Paramount's PG rated animated feature Rugrats Go Wild opened in the No. 4 spot with an ESTIMATED $12.5 million at 3,041 theaters with a $4,110 per theater average.
The movie revolves around Nickelodeon regulars the Rugrats and The Wild Thornberrys, who team up to get off a deserted island. This third Rugrats feature failed to open as strongly as the first two installments. The original pic, The Rugrats Movie opened Nov. 20, 1998, with $27.3 million, while the second installment, Rugrats in Paris - The Movie, bowed into theaters Nov. 17, 2000, with $22.7 million.
Directed by Norton Virgien and John Eng, it features the voices of Michael Bell, Jodi Carlisle, Nancy Cartwright, Lacey Chabert, Melanie Chartoff, Cheryl Chase, Tim Curry, Elizabeth Daily and Bruce Willis.
Sony Picture's PG-13 cop comedy Hollywood Homicide failed to make a splash and premiered in fifth place with an ESTIMATED $11.7 million at 2,840 theaters with a $4,120 per theater average.
In the film, a veteran police detective and his fresh-faced partner are more interested in their side jobs than in the high-profile gangland-style murder they are currently investigating.
Directed by Ron Shelton, it stars Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett.
New Line's PG-13 comedy Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd opened in sixth place with a disappointing ESTIMATED take of $11 million at 2,609 theaters with a $4,241 per theater average.
Set in 1986, the film is a prequel to the 1994 Jim Carrey vehicle Dumb & Dumber, and reveals how mentally challenged best friends Harry and Lloyd became pals.
Directed by Troy Miller, it stars Eric Christian Olsen, Derek Richardson, Eugene Levy and Cheri Oteri.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Paramount Pictures' PG-13 rated actioner The Italian Job dropped three notches to seventh in its third week with an ESTIMATED $9.5 million (-28%) at 2,697 theaters (-180 theaters; $3,522 per theater). Its cume is approximately $$55.2 million.
Directed by F. Gary Gray, it stars Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Seth Green, Mos Def and Edward Norton.
Warner Bros.' R rated sci-fi sequel The Matrix Reloaded fell three places to No. 8 in its fifth week with an ESTIMATED $5.5 million (-40%) at 2,350 theaters (-875 theaters; $2,347 per theater). Its cume is approximately $257.2 million.
Directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, it stars Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss and Hugo Weaving.
Sony Pictures' PG-rated Daddy Day Care slipped three notches to No. 9 in its sixth week with an ESTIMATED $2.1 million (-54%) at 1,982 theaters (-731 theaters; $1,060 per theater). Its cume is approximately $92.2 million.
Directed by Steve Carr, it stars Eddie Murphy, Jeff Garlin, Steve Zahn, Regina King and Anjelica Huston.
Rounding out the Top 10 is 20th Century Fox's PG-13 rated X2: X-Men United. The comic book flick took in an ESTIMATED $1.6 million (-47%) at 1,311 theaters (-739 theaters; $1,1,220 per theater average). Its cume is approximately $207.1 million.
Directed by Bryan Singer, it stars Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.
Miramax's R rated romantic comedy Jet Lag opened in two theaters with an ESTIMATED $20,000 with a $10,000 per theater average.
The film focuses on a world-renowned chef and a beautician who strike up an unusal relationship at a Paris airport.
Directed by Daniele Thompson, it stars Jean Reno and Juliette Binoche.
The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $118.5 million, down 24 percent from last week's take of $156.5 million.
The Top 12 were also down 23 percent from last year's $155.8 million total.
Last year, Warner Bros.' PG rated Scooby-Doo premiered at the top of the box office with $54.1 million at 3,447 theaters ($15,711 per theater), while Universal's PG-13 rated The Bourne Identity debuted at No. 2 with $27.1 million in 2,638 theaters ($10,280 per theater); MGM's R rated Windtalkers opened in third place with $14.5 million at 2,898 theaters ($5,0010 per theater).