Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Hey Arnold! The Movie

MPAA Rating: PG for some thematic elements

Reviewed by: Douglas Downs

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
10 and up
Animated Drama
1 hr. 16 min.
Year of Release:
Hey Arnold! The Movie

Starring: Spencer Klein, Craig Bartlett, Christopher Lloyd, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Sorvino | Directed by: Tuck Tucker | Produced by: Craig Bartlett, Albie Hecht | Written by: Craig Bartlett, Steve Viksten | Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Nickelodeon has made several attempts to bring some of their popular animated series to the big screen. There are obvious financial benefits if they can cash in on the summer or holiday audience. Hey Arnold! The Movie is their latest effort to recycle an established network series. Our football-headed hero has been around now for six years. One thing that I have learned is that most of these cartoons do not look all that great in the theater. But that doesn’t seem to stop the corporate execs who try to build success from the bottom of a children’s meal out.

Scheck, Gerald and Arnold in Hey Arnold! The MovieHey Arnold! The Movie is your standard good-guys vs. bad-guys plot. It isn’t all that funny or clever. Arnold (voice by Spencer Klein) and his friends must try to save their urban neighborhood from “progress”. Too bad for “Hey Arnold!”, but the team at Dreamworks’ and “Spirit” developed the message of “Change is good” much better. In this flik, a cold-hearted developer named Scheck (voice by Paul Sorvino) wants to tear down a six-block area and build a mall. It does seem hypocritical that a corporation would try to make money on an anti-corporate theme. Scheck and his company Future Tech Industries have an army of bulldozers and enforcers to get the job done. Arnold tries to raise public awareness through block parties and flyers. The problem is that Arnold and his friend Gerald (Jamil Smith) are running out of time. I think you can already guess the ending.

Helga (Francesca Marie Smith) does declare her love to Arnold in this film and struggles with the fact that her dad is on the side of the developers. Yes, in so many ways it is your point-A to point-B movie.

I do have some precautions to address. Some of the plot points do show the characters in situations wherupon they lie and steal in order to accomplish their goals. There are also some implied sexual innuendos. Personally, my recommendation is to skip this one. I think that parents can find better things to do with their children than to waste an afternoon on a so-so film.

Viewer Comments
Negative—My kids liked this movie, but I thought it was a waste of time and money. I like the TV show, but the movie isn’t nearly up to those standards. The animation is poor and the story is uninteresting.
My Ratings: [Good / 1½]
—Jackie, age 39
Negative—The movie was uninteresting. None of the children in the theater at the time I was there laughed or reacted in a positive way. In fact, there was quite a bit of running in and out. Go to the park and get some exercise.
My Ratings: [Good / 2]
—Neah, age 68
Movie Critics
…The movie may please the TV show’s fans, but the animation is weak, the story unoriginal and the action, including fistfights and explosions, overly violent for the target age group…
—Bill Muller, The Arizona Republic
…So many kid-centric cartoons reflect the middle-class suburban lifestyles of their creators, so it’s refreshing to find a show that sees color and character in the life of a city…
—Michael Machosky, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
…it’s intriguing to find a bracing anticorporate message sold by a dominant multinational media company (Nickelodeon is part of the giant Viacom, Paramount, CBS, Blockbuster web)…
—Liam Lacey, The Globe and Mail
Comments from young people
Negative—Don’t waist your money on this movie. I like to watch the show but this wasn’t near as good as the show. I paid good money to see that movie but it wasn’t worth my money.
My Ratings: [Good / 2]
—Miles, age 11
Positive—I can see why this movie doesn’t attract a lot of people. I, being a fan of the television show, recommend it mostly to the people who watch the show. There are some inside things in it as well. I would say that its definitely worth waiting to watch on DVD. And as far as content is concerned, I would say that its a movie that would be for ages 9 and up. There are adults whom I have seen that watch the show regularly though as well.
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—Jessica, age 15