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Immediately upon walking into this screening, I could smell something was different. No it wasn't the couple of hundred children restlessly munching pounds of popcorn while they waited for their chance to see the Rugrats Go Wild a week before their friends. In fact, it wasn't until the friendly rep handed me a little plastic covered piece of paper that I got clued in. "Smellies" were back!
Over the years various attempts have been made to bring fragrance into film theaters not always with the best results. Supposedly Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy's 1940 oil baron flic Boom Town featured the odor of fresh crude wafting over audiences. The reported viewer-reaction left studios reluctant to try future olfactory stunts
Paramount's latest technique for bringing scent to the screen is much simpler. Thanks to Scratch-&-Sniff technology, you simply scratch the numbered circle on the card when you see the big flashing number on the bottom right corner of the screen. Conveniently printed with glow-in-the-dark numerals, it allowed me to get a whiff of everything from root beer to the Rugrats' stinky feet.
Oh right there was a story to this movie too or at least an outline of reasons for the Rugrats to meet up with their Nickelodeon cousins, The Wild Thornberries to create this cross-promotional opportunity.
It all starts after the ever-inventing father, Stu Pickles, inadvertently convinces the gang they are going on a luxury cruise. Instead, they find themselves on Pickles' barely seaworthy craft. Moments later, the expected storm hits, stranding the cast on a deserted isle (complete with Gilligan's Island theme music).
In true Rugrats fashion, the stupid adults panic, so it's up to the babies to figure things out. One of them (I really can't recall who -- there are so many) thinks he's seen their location on a TV show featuring wildlife expert "Nigel Strawberry" (meaning "Thornberry"). With the rest of the pack in tow, they eventually get help from the Thornberrys' daughters (one of which is Eliza, who can talk with animals) and a happy ending looks promising.
And like past Rugrats' adventures, this movie includes various nods to television and cinema history, including Titanic, From Here to Eternity, and an almost laugh-out-loud moment when bossy little Angelica Pickles belts out a chorus from The Poseidon Adventure's cheesy hit song, "The Morning After."
Possibly bowled over by the novelty of sniffing my way to the credits, this pint-sized adventure seemed to go by a little more quickly than past Rugrat offerings. Still, parents should be prepared for a boatload of potty humor and "pee pee" jokes should they choose to expose their children to 90 minutes of hyperactive characters who pull breakfast waffles out of their diapers for survivor rations.
Meanwhile, the other 99% of the theater's occupants (to whom this movie is more directly targeted), all seemed satisfied with the experience, proving this animated franchise knows how to turn scents into dollars.>
Rugrats Go Wild is rated PG: for mild crude humor.