Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Things Only Adults Notice In The Rugrats Movie

These days, it seems like '90s nostalgia has reached an all-time high. From Saturday morning cartoons to classic video games, films and TV have provided endless entertainment memories for millennials and Gen X-ers to indulge their nostalgic tendencies.

One of the biggest perks of growing up in the '90s was the arrival of the Nickelodeon cable network, a channel that catered specifically to children. One of the very first Nicktoons, "Rugrats," remains one of the most memorable shows in that network's history. Created by Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo, the series gave viewers a unique perspective into the minds of young toddlers Tommy Pickles, Chuckie Finster, Angelica Pickles, and Phil and Lil Deville as they traversed a wide, wonderful world. When Nickelodeon's parent company, Viacom, purchased Paramount Pictures in 1994, it set the stage to bring "Rugrats" to the big screen in a feature film.

"The Rugrats Movie" hit theaters in 1998 and was a success, taking in $140 million worldwide. Kids and grown-ups alike were charmed by the film's humor and heart, and it remains a key facet of '90s nostalgia for many. Yet, as millennials rewatching the film may notice, there were a lot of things in the movie that may have gone over their heads as youngsters. Here are some of the moments in "The Rugrats Movie" that adult fans will understand better now. 

The Indiana Jones reference

Like many episodes from the "Rugrats" TV series, "The Rugrats Movie" opens with an imaginary adventure of epic proportions. Deep in the jungle, the babies explore the ancient ruins of a lost civilization. Their fearless leader, Tommy, is Okey-Dokey Jones, brandishing a jump rope like a whip as the babies traverse the hazards of the mysterious temple.

Their prize, a golden idol, sits atop a tall column at the heart of the ruins. They attempt to retrieve it, but the treasure is just out of their reach, and suddenly a giant boulder comes racing toward them. As the intrepid adventurers make their escape, the audience is brought back to reality and sees that Tommy and his pals are in his kitchen, attempting to steal a bowl of ice cream from the refrigerator before they are caught by a very pregnant Didi Pickles.

The opening is an exciting start to the whirlwind journey of "The Rugrats Movie," and it is a familiar sight for fans of the series. Younger audiences, however, might not understand the reference to the famous George Lucas/Steven Spielberg "Indiana Jones" franchise. This sequence in particular is a parody of the opening scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark," in which Harrison Ford's iconic hero attempts to steal a golden idol from a jungle ruin filled with booby traps. 

The joys of parenting a newborn

As sung so succinctly by Susie Carmichael and Angelica Pickles in "The Rugrats Movie," a baby is a gift from "a bob." These adorable bundles can bring love and laughter into a family's life, creating memories that last for a lifetime. They can also bring anxiety, frustration, and sleep deprivation — lots and lots of sleep deprivation.

Tommy's mom, Didi, is nine months pregnant at the start of the movie. Everyone is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the newest family member — particularly Tommy, who can't wait to be a big brother. Once the Pickles bring baby Dylan (or Dyl, for short) home from the hospital, it's a whole other story. No matter how much Stu and Didi try to calm the squalling tot, Dyl will not calm down. Even Tommy worries that his little brother might be "broken," and feels neglected by his parents who are paying more attention to Dyl than to him.

Every child is different, and being the parent of a fussy newborn is an especially arduous challenge. Babies cry for everything — food, a clean diaper, too cold, too hot, too tired . . . the list goes on and on. While a wailing baby is an annoyance for everyone, it's how they communicate, and it's up to the parents to give them everything they need. Most parents can relate to Didi and Stu's struggles, but children watching the movie likely will be unable to empathize.

Sibling rivalry sometimes crosses over into adulthood

Being an older sibling can be difficult, as Tommy Pickles learns in "The Rugrats Movie" with the arrival of Dyl. Suddenly, Tommy is no longer the center of attention, as his parents have to wait hand and foot on the newborn and meet his every need. Not only that, but Dyl isn't nearly as fun as Tommy had hoped. The younger baby steals his toys, cries constantly, and embarrasses him in front of his friends. Seeing his distress, Stu has a pep talk with Tommy about "sponsatility," assuring him that his little brother will change with time.

However, as Stu demonstrates with his brother, Drew, sibling rivalry is something that some people never grow out of. In fact, the brothers are at each other's throats for the majority of the film. Drew is critical of Stu's ambitions to be a great toymaker, insisting that Stu find a "real job." Stu resents Drew's lack of faith in him, and refuses to be a "clock-punching paper-pusher." Their feud escalates when Drew finds out that his daughter, Angelica, is missing, and he attacks Stu in front of a live news crew.

Family can be a challenge at any age, whether it's the relationship between parent and child or between siblings. Once the babies are found safe and sound, Drew and Stu forget about their quarrel and find harmony once again. At the end of their journey, Tommy learns that being a big brother has both ups and downs. Though he and Dyl might not always get along, they will always be family.

Angelica paraphrases a classic movie line

An integral character that should never be overlooked in the "Rugrats" franchise is Cynthia, Angelica's favorite doll. Though she may look a little worse for wear with chunks of her hair missing, Cynthia has been with Angelica through thick and thin, and is her most prized possession. When Cynthia is taken by Dyl on a runaway Reptar wagon, Angelica is determined to get her back. She dresses up as her favorite TV detective, puts on her roller skates, and drafts Spike the dog to assist her.

Putting on Spike's leash, Angelica informs him that they must "search every doghouse, playhouse, treehouse, and dollhouse" to find the babies who stole Cynthia. This line probably sounds familiar to the adults who are watching, as it is inspired by dialogue from the 1993 action thriller, "The Fugitive." The classic speech delivered by Tommy Lee Jones in the movie is worded a bit differently, but is close enough to be recognized as a nod to the popular film.

The adults in The Rugrats Movie should be facing jail time

The babies face several dangers during their adventures, from careening down a busy highway to squaring off against vicious animals in the wilderness. Frankly, it's incredible that they make it through these hazards alive. However, what's possibly even more upsetting are the actions — or inactions — of the adults in "The Rugrats Movie."

When Grandpa and Stu realize that the babies are missing, they come to the erroneous conclusion that the tykes got themselves packed up and shipped off to Japan. After an exciting chase that ends unfruitfully, they realize their mistake and must relay the news to Didi that the kids have disappeared. Upon hearing this, Didi does what Grandpa and Stu should have done in the first place: Call the police.

Both the news media and law enforcement quickly surround the home of the Pickles. While they would likely be investigated for their parenting practices in the real world, the police in "The Rugrats Movie" are too incompetent to be of such concern. The lead detective on the case even asks Didi if Tommy has any enemies or connections to the mob, to which she replies: "He's a baby!"

Since the police are no help, the Pickles family and their friends decide to go search for the kids themselves. They succeed in their endeavor, because hey — this is a children's film, and it should have a happy ending. Of course, none of this would have happened if the adults had kept a closer eye on the little rugrats in the first place. If this were real life, the grown ups would have been led away in handcuffs once the police showed up.

The use of a classic rock hit

While "The Rugrats Movie" stays faithful to the series, it also tries to spice things up a bit with the addition of musical numbers. There are at least three original songs featured in the film, as well as a few familiar tunes. One of them is a hit from the 1970s that classic rock fans will appreciate.

As Angelica continues to search for her beloved Cynthia, their quest takes her through the wilderness, meeting many obstacles along the way. The toddler will not be deterred by any hindrance, however, as she begins to determinedly sing the song "One Way or Another." Kids might be surprised to notice their parents singing along to the catchy tune, not knowing that the song was a big hit from the new wave rock band Blondie.

Originally released in 1978, "One Way or Another" is arguably one of the most popular Blondie songs of the band's career. Debbie Harry, the band's lead vocalist, wrote the lyrics based on true experiences that she had while being harassed by a stalker. Though the song might have dark intonations, it fits very well with Angelica's mission to track down her favorite doll. 

The Rugrats Movie has a long list of prominent voices

"Rugrats" the TV series and "The Rugrats Movie" feature some of animation's most impressive voice actors in the business. Actors such as Elizabeth "E.G." Daily, Kath Soucie, Michael Bell, Tress MacNeille, and Christine Cavanaugh voice the beloved characters in the show and on the big screen. However, only those who listen very carefully (or are savvy enough to watch the credits) might be able to discern some other big names who lent their vocals to "The Rugrats Movie."

There are many famous guest stars featured in "The Rugrats Movie." Some are brief cameos, such as the voices of the newborn babies in the musical number, "This World is Something New to Me." Musical artists and musicians such as Beck, Lenny Kravitz, Lisa Loeb, Iggy Pop, Lou Rawls, and several others provide the voices of these new arrivals as they marvel at the world around them. Then there is the voice of the Reptar Wagon, which is voiced by rapper Busta Rhymes. Finally, there are the two forest rangers in search of the lost kids, voiced by actors Whoopi Goldberg and David Spade.

The post-credit sequence suggests a big adventure for Grandpa Pickles

It's difficult for a movie to hold kids' attention for long, so once the credits begin rolling, most of the younger audience has likely bailed. However, since the trend-setting Marvel Cinematic Universe began to implement post-credit scenes into their projects, more and more kids have learned to stick around until the very end. Yet even before the MCU came to be, some films hid away secret endings to be found by perceptive viewers.

After the final credits roll for "The Rugrats Movie," the screen lights up once again to show Grandpa Lou asleep inside the Reptar Wagon in the front yard. Accompanying him is the goat that was gifted by Didi's parents at the beginning of the film. The goat grazes peacefully before head-butting the back of the wagon, sending it rolling down the road with a snoring Grandpa inside. The goat then chases after the wagon, as the figures disappear off into the horizon.

What sort of adventures are Grandpa and the goat up to? Lots of kids may have missed out on this hidden scene completely, going to show that credits are there for a reason — even if they're just a precursor to a possible secret ending.

Kids have big imaginations, but even bigger hearts

"The Rugrats Movie" retains many things that made the series special, but it also provides something a little extra. As Tommy, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, and Angelica are thrown into the dangerous wilderness, far from home and without any grown-ups around, they have to stick together to make it through. For Tommy in particular, it's a difficult trial with his new baby brother, Dil, who requires constant attention and slows everyone down.

Even as he tries to defend Dil, Tommy has trouble warming up to the needy newborn who has taken away his parents' attention and happy-go-lucky life. Such resentment for his baby brother reaches its peak in a dramatic moment when a raging Tommy almost dumps a jar of mashed bananas on his head. He quickly has a change of heart when he sees how vulnerable Dil is, and his dad's words about responsibility take effect.

By the time the kids are rescued at the end of the film, Tommy has learned a valuable lesson about what it means to be a big brother, and just how special little Dil really is. For kids, it's a sweet reminder of what family means; for adults, it just might bring a tear to their eyes.