ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)

Entertainment Media Analysis Report

The Rugrats Movie (1998), G
CAP Score: 91, CAP ID: 0.16

Thomas A. Carder
CAP President

Executive Summary/Commentary

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I have avoided analysis of cartoons and animated features because of the HUGE difference in conceptual reality between cartoon/animated characters and live actors/actresses. For example, the magnitude and depth of viewer impact by seeing Elmer Fudd blast the beak off of Daffy Duck is just not the same as seeing Dennis Rodman blow the face off a cop. And I realize that picking on a cartoon movie which, to many, is "99 and 44/100% pure" is risky business. But by your gracious feedback, you have come to trust our media analyses to reveal ignominy and other questionable programming in ANY entertainment medium. I shall not disappoint you*.

The Rugrats Movie was cute and filled with high energy toddler action -- good wholesome fun. However, it would be difficult for even seven or eight year old kids to understand the dry, "adult" humor freckling the movie. Only the action and the age camaraderie between viewer and character would likely capture the interest of younger viewers. The Rugrats Movie was like many other cartoons, especially those produced during and shortly after World War II. It depended on a strong experience base to be able to grasp the meaning or consequences of some of the behaviors portrayed, for example.......

Parents in the movie gambled on the birthweight of an unborn baby. One of the diaper-wearing toddlers tucked a chocolate coin in the crotch of his diaper to save it for his sister. Astrology is indeed an unholy entity and has no righteous place anywhere let alone in a cartoon for kids. My wife and I have five kids, soon to be seven. And we have cared for 18 in the past eight years (foster/adoptive parents) and I can tell you by REAL experience, not by some university observation, that kids (generally speaking) are not as mean as the The Rugrats Movie kids were, nor do kids practice name-calling so profusely. A year of teaching computer skills to 300+ kindergarten through 8th grade supports that finding. And what kind of developmental statement is made by a dozen or so nursery babies urinating skyward creating a rainbow? To make matters even more questionable, the producers presented cartoon nudity -- a rear view of a toddler without his diaper. I've changed a couple thousand diapers and have wiped a lot of baby bottoms, and I've chased after few bare-bottom toddlers who did not want their diaper on -- seeing a baby's or toddler's bottom is a harmless part of child care -- but a cartoon is not the place for such display. Finally, I feel imitative behavior may put some kids at risk if they were to strike out own their own to rescue one of their lost or missing friends -- just like the toddlers in The Rugrats Movie.

* This cartoon feature was analyzed with the assumption that if the behavior of a cartoon character could be incorporated by a human, then an opportunity exists to influence the behavior decisions of the observer, especially the inexperienced and impressionable observer, and those in the same or next step or two higher developmental stratum portrayed by the characters.


FINDINGS/SCORING: The Rugrats Movie (1998) CAP Thermometers

All Investigation Areas were free of programming warranting loss of points in the intermediate or maximum levels.

Additional programming warranting the loss of minimum level points each occurrence included:

  • parents gambling (on the birthweight of an unborn baby)
  • a todler placing a chocolate coin in the crotch of his diaper to save it for his sister
  • wisdom offered by astrology
  • meanness, fighting, and name-calling
  • todlers looking at their private parts and making comments such as "You're so lucky.'
  • passing gas
  • many babies urinating skyward in a fountain manner creating a rainbow
  • expressing that parental/caregiver anger at babies is expected when the babies will not stop crying
  • cartoon nudity
  • graphic threat by a wolf
  • children conducting a rescue operation in the woods on their own.

    In accordance with the numeric comparative baseline database of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model, The Rugrats Movie (1998) was equivalent to G-rated material in Wanton Violence/Crime, Sex/Homosexuality, Drugs/Alcohol, Offense to God, and Murder/Suicide. Material equivalent to PG programming was found in Impunity/Hate. Thus, The Rugrats Movie is equivalent to 83% G-rated programming, 17% PG-rated programming.

    Please remember we believe that if even one of the six Investigation Area scores for a movie is equivalent to the CAP comparative baseline database scoring range for R, PG-13, or PG material, the entire movie should be regarded as so rated.  For example, if only Wanton Violence/Crime earns a score equivalent to R but all other Investigation Areas earn a score equivalent to G, THERE IS R-RATED MATERIAL IN THE MOVIE AND YOUR KIDS WILL SEE IT AND HEAR IT IF THEY WATCH THE MOVIE!

    Reviews of this movie may be located at "Movie Review Query Engine at Telerama."

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    Thomas A. Carder
    ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)

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