Hey Arnold!: The Movie

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Hey Arnold!: The Movie
Hey arnold the movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tuck Tucker
Produced by Craig Bartlett
Albie Hecht
Executive producers
Marjorie Cohn
Julia Pistor
Written by Craig Bartlett
Steve Viksten
Music by Jim Lang
Edited by Christopher Hink
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • June 28, 2002 (2002-06-28)
Running time 75 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget US$3–4 million[1][2]
Box office $15,249,308 (worldwide)[1]

Hey Arnold!: The Movie is a 2002 comedy animated film based on the 1996 Nickelodeon animated television series Hey Arnold!. The film follows Arnold, Gerald, and Helga on a quest to save their neighborhood from a greedy developer who plans on converting it into a huge shopping mall. The film was released on June 28, 2002 and produced by Snee Oosh, Inc. and Nickelodeon Movies and distributed by Paramount Pictures.


The film opens with Arnold and Gerald returning from losing a basketball game. Arriving at Arnold's boarding house, they see a commotion and learn that a man named Scheck, the CEO of a company called FutureTech Industries (FTI), has just announced plans to redevelop the entire neighborhood as a luxurious high-rise shopping mall. According to a news broadcast, the city's mayor has already approved the controversial redevelopment plan, meaning that the entire neighborhood (33rd-39th street) is going to be torn down and everyone living there will have to sell their homes to FTI and move away. The neighbors decide to sign a petition asking the mayor to cancel the project, to no avail.

During the night, Helga discovers that her father, Big Bob, is working with FTI to build a new super-sized branch of his beeper store in the proposed mall. Helga points out to her father that their neighbors are going to suffer if he builds his store. Big Bob argues that his store is a good thing, because they will become wealthy. Helga ultimately sides with her father, although she's reluctant to do so, due to her feelings for Arnold.

Arnold hosts a protest rally against FTI. However, their permit is stolen by Scheck's employees, so the protest is subsequently declared illegal. The failure of the rally encourages many of Arnold's neighbors to give up. Grandma Gertie is also jailed for being hostile to the police suppressing the protest rally. She tries escaping from jail, but she is continually thwarted. Two days before demolition, Gerald tells Arnold to stop looking on the bright side and that they can not always win, though Arnold is unwilling to accept it.

As the residents begin packing their belongings, Grandpa Phil tells the story of the "Tomato Incident" (a parody of the Boston Tea Party), a major Revolutionary War battle fought in the city. Phil says that the residents of their neighborhood, angry at the increase in British taxes on tomatoes, began a riot that resulted in the British losing control of the city. Arnold realizes that if he can find proof of the neighborhood's involvement in the battle, the neighborhood can be preserve as a National Landmark, stating the neighborhood cannot be demolished. He and Gerald soon learn that the neighborhood was indeed a historic district, but the legal document ensuring its preservation had been sold to a collector, who turns out to be Scheck himself. When confronted, he denies having the document and kicks Arnold and Gerald out of his office.

As the boys are about to give up hope, Arnold gets a mysterious phone call "Deep Voice" informing him that Scheck is lying and the document is hidden in his office safe, and Nick Vermicelli, Scheck's assistant, has the key. Deep Voice directs them to a woman named Bridget, who will help them sneak the key away from Nick. After Arnold and Gerald manage to steal the key, Big Bob, having read the fine print of his contract, finds that Scheck had swindled him out of ownership of his company in exchange for the right to build a new store. He confronts Nick and the two of them fight, with Nick winning. Nick then finds the key gone and alerts Scheck.

Meanwhile, Phil and the men at the boarding house are trying to develop a backup plan just in case Arnold fails to get the document. Phil concocts to wire the storm drain tunnels beneath their street with dynamite to destroy, preventing FTI's construction equipment.

Arnold and Gerald sneak back into the FTI headquarters and locate the safe, but the document is missing. Scheck appears from behind them with the document in his hand. He reveals that his ancestor, the governor of the British forces, was humiliated by the Tomato Incident, and that for years, Scheck has been planning to avenge his family by tearing down Arnold's neighborhood and putting up a hulking building carrying the Scheck name in its place. He then burns the document to ensure that his plans will proceed without question, before summoning his guards to get rid of them. They manage to run and hide from them, feeling hope is lost, until Deep Voice convinces Arnold to obtain FTI security-camera footage of Scheck burning the document. He is nearly caught, forcing him to hide on the roof.

He is then contacted by Deep Voice, who is revealed to be Helga, using a voice-changing toy and calling him from a pay phone in Scheck's building. Arnold asks Helga why she decided to help him, instead of taking her father's side, she confesses that she has feelings for him before kissing him. Helga and Arnold; who is still in shock from Helga's confession, escape the building and meet Gerald on a city bus. Murray, the driver, is unwilling to speed up until he realizes that his girlfriend Mona also lives in Arnold's neighborhood, and that she will be evicted by FTI. Back in the neighborhood, Phil and the gang are waiting with their explosives for FTI to begin demolishing the neighborhood, but Big Bob discovers their plan. Although he states the gang could do some serious jail time for such a radical plan, he decides to help them out with it.

Despite several near-collisions, the kids and Murray eventually make it back uptown to the neighborhood. Meanwhile, Gertie, having managed to escape from jail, hijacks one of the demolition team's bulldozers and sabotages the rest. Soon, the bulldozer and the bus are set to collide. They appear unharmed. Mayor Dixie arrives to the scene, as well as the police and a news crew. Arnold and Bridget show the image of Scheck burning the document to the mayor on the FTI screen, who then officially restores the neighborhood's status as a historic site.

Scheck arrives, demanding to know why demolition work has not begun, seeing his image on the screen, and is promptly arrested. Meanwhile, Nick attempts to escape, only to be punched in the face by Big Bob for his betrayal. Harold, who was woken up by the collision, sits down on the detonator that ignites Phil's explosives. The explosives beneath the street ignite, but destroys the FTI screen instead. Phil and the boarders run away from the police, as Helga talks to Arnold, denying having ever loved him and saying that it was just "the heat of the moment." Arnold, unconvinced, kindly pretends to accept it. Helga returns home cheerfully as Eugene sings a song about the neighborhood being saved, but Gerald stopped him, telling him "show's over."



In 1998, the Nickelodeon cable network renewed the original Hey Arnold! series for a fourth season, and gave creator Craig Bartlett the chance to develop a feature adaptation.[3] As work on the fifth season was completing, Bartlett and company engaged in the production of Arnold Saves the Neighborhood, which would eventually become Hey Arnold!: The Movie.[3] The Neighborhood project was considered for television and home video,[2][3] but executives at Paramount Pictures decided to release it theatrically after successful test screenings.[2] According to animation historian Jerry Beck (in his Animated Movie Guide), the decision was buoyed by the financial success of the first two Rugrats movies, The Rugrats Movie and Rugrats in Paris: The Movie.[3]


The first trailer was released during the 2002 Kids' Choice Awards. They showed segments on Nickelodeon called "Backyard Players" where kids would play Arnold, Gerald, and Helga and act out scenes from the movie. There was a contest held for a lucky winner to be Arnold for a day and go to the premiere of the movie. The song 2-Way by Lil' Romeo was used to help promote the movie.


Hey Arnold!: The Movie was Nickelodeon's first animated feature to receive a PG rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). The film's poster is modeled after that for Nicktoons' previous theatrical release, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Opening on June 28, 2002 in the U.S., despite beating its extremely mere budget of $3 million, Hey Arnold!: The Movie was still considered a box-office bomb. The film grossed US$5.7 million from 2,527 theaters on its opening weekend.[1] Total earnings have amounted to US$13.7 million domestically, and US$15.2 million worldwide.[1] The film was released on VHS and DVD on December 31, 2002; its special features consisted of only the theatrical trailer and an interactive game based on Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure.[4]

THQ released a video game of the movie, exclusively for the Game Boy Advance. The game consists of 5 worlds, with 4 levels each (each including a boss on the fourth level) and the player can play as Arnold, Gerald, Grandpa, and Grandma. Helga is playable only with a cheat code found on various websites.


The film currently holds a 30% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 77 reviews with the following critical consensus: "Bland, unoriginal and lacking the wit of the TV series, Hey Arnold! is a 30-minute cartoon stretched beyond its running time."[5] Metacritic recorded a score of 47/100 based on 23 reviews, indicating "Mixed or average reviews".[6] The film received some positive reviews such as those at The New York Post, The San Francisco Chronicle and Entertainment Weekly.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Box office information for Hey Arnold!: The Movie". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 6, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Horn, John (July 9, 2003). "Nickelodeon flops on big screen". Chicago Tribune. Los Angeles Times. p. 3 (Tempo). Retrieved October 6, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d Beck, Jerry (2005). "Hey Arnold! The Movie". The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Reader Press. p. 111. ISBN 1-55652-591-5. 
  4. ^ Epstein, Ron J. (January 3, 2003). "Review of Hey Arnold! The Movie". DVD Talk. Retrieved October 14, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Reviews for Hey Arnold!: The Movie". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved October 6, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Reviews for Hey Arnold!: The Movie". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 6, 2011. 

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