The film begins with several shots of Hillwood showing the kids having fun and adults doing their usual routine until Sid notices construction workers demolishing a house. Arnold and Gerald are then seen walking back to the boarding house with a popped basketball after being beaten by 5th graders at a game. Before Arnold walks into the boarding house, he sees several of his neighbors making a fuss about something. One of the gathered neighbors Mr. Green, explains the commotion. He states that Mr. Scheck (Paul Sorvino), the CEO of a real estate company called Future Tech Industries or FTi, wants to buy all the houses in Arnold's neighborhood so the urban development firm can convert them into a futuristic mall.
According to the news, Mayor Dixie is already approving plans for the mall. This means that Arnold's neighborhood will be destroyed and everyone who lives there has to move away (which would also mean Helga would not see Arnold again or express her feelings to him). The neighbors state that they should do something about this. During the night, Helga discovers that her dad, Big Bob Pataki, is working with Nick Vermicelli (who had worked with Bob on previous occasions). Bob is revealed to be planning to build a store in Scheck's mall called "Big Bob's Super Beeper Emporium." Helga points out to her dad that people are going to suffer if he builds his store. However, Bob counters by saying that if they leave the neighborhood alone, his store will not exist. He also insists that change is good (as does Scheck at various times in the film) and states that when his store is built, their family will be rich and Helga will be able to buy anything. The next morning, FTi puts up a huge electronic billboard above Arnold’s house that shows the number of days until construction begins as well as several Future tech Industries ads featuring Scheck stating "Out with the old, in with the new," "Change is good," and "I've seen the future, and the future is Future Tech Industries."
Arnold rallies the neighborhood and hosts "Blockapalooza," a block party held to protest against FTi. However, the permit allowing them to close a public street was stolen by Scheck's employees, and Blockapalooza was declared illegal. Arnold's grandmother was jailed for being hostile to the police suppressing the rally. She tries breaking out but keeps getting caught. As demolition day closes in, Gerald tells Arnold to stop looking on the bright side of things and that you cannot always win. Later, Arnold sees how this will effect the citizens as he sees the friendship between Sid and Stinky and the relationship between Mr. Green and his shop and how this will destroy his business.
Later on, as the boarders begin packing, Grandpa tells Arnold the history of the boarding house, stating that it was first built in the 1700's and it was the site of the "Tomato Incident" (a parody of the Boston Tea Party) during the Revolutionary War. The residents at that time angry over the increase in British taxes for tomatoes. The locals fought the British soldiers by hitting them with the tomatoes, sending them running. Arnold realizes that if he can find a document proving the event happened, then the neighborhood will be declared a historical site and cannot be demolished. With Gerald reluctantly tagging along, Arnold manages to trace the document to FTi, though Scheck denies ownership of the document. Just as Arnold and Gerald are about to give up hope, the boarding house telephone rings, and a mysterious individual named "Deep Voice" reveals that Scheck is lying and the document is hidden in his vault, which Vermicelli has the key to. Gerald suggests going to a woman named Bridget (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who can provide them with the proper gadgets to do the job and sneak the key away from Vermicelli. While Arnold and Gerald follow Vermicelli and eventually manage to snag the key, Big Bob, having read the fine print of his contract, finds that Scheck had taken control of 51% percent of his company in exchange for the right to build his beeper emporium, and takes his anger out on Vermicelli. They engage in a small fight before Bob is dosed in pickle juice (reminiscent of the Hulk) and knocked out. Vermicelli then realizes that the key was gone and alerts Scheck.
Meanwhile, Grandpa Phil and the men at the boarding house are trying to develop a backup plan just in case Arnold fails to get the document. They have several ideas, but fight on their weaknesses. However, Phil gets an idea that works. They plan to wire the sewer tunnels beneath their street with dynamite. They would then ignite it and blow a huge hole in the ground so the Future Tech workers would fall in. Arnold and Gerald infiltrate the FTi building and locate the vault, only to find the document missing. Scheck comes up from behind them, with the document in his hand. He reveals that his ancestor, who was the German leader of the British forces, was humiliated by the Tomato Incident. For generations, Scheck's family has been planning on regaining control of the city and get revenge against the boarders.
Scheck then burns the document in front of them. His bodyguards then arrive to detain Arnold and Gerald, who manage to escape and split up. Arnold then receives another call from Deep Voice, and remembers that FTi has cameras everywhere. He manages to get a video of Scheck burning the document. However, security forces arrive, forcing Arnold to hide on the roof. He is then contacted by Deep Voice once again, who is then revealed to be Helga, who, after some pressing from Arnold, confesses her romantic feelings for him and kisses him at the top of the tower. They escape the building and meet Gerald on a city bus. But the driver Murray is unwilling to speed up until he realizes that his former flame lives near Arnold and that her house is going to be demolished. Back in the neighborhood, Phil and the others are waiting with their explosives for FTi to begin taking the neighborhood down. Big Bob is in the area and discovers their plan. Although Bob states they could do some serious jail time, he decides to help because Vermicelli double-crossed him.
Meanwhile, Vermicelli's workers blow up the overpass to prevent Arnold, Gerald, Helga, and Murray (who is unconscious at the time) from getting to the neighborhood. However, a truck on the freeway that had a ramp on the back was stopped near the edge. The quartet ride the bus over the truck's ramp to jump the hole and make it to 33rd Street. Back at the neighborhood again, Grandma (who has escaped from jail) hijacks one of the bulldozers and destroys the rest. Soon, a rogue bulldozer and the city bus that Arnold, Gerald, and Helga are on collide. The three kids come out okay a few moments later. Mayor Dixie arrives and Bridget gives Arnold a VCR to show the tape of Scheck burning the document. Bridget hooks it up to the big Scheckivision screen and Arnold shows Mayor Dixie the tape, who then proceeds to claim the neighborhood as a historical landmark.
Scheck then arrives but is dismayed by the incriminating evidence. He gets into his car and tries to run over Arnold and Gerald, only to find that Grandma stripped his car of its wheels. He is then arrested for his crimes and Big Bob gets in another fight with Vermicelli, knocking him out. Arnold’s neighbor Harold is exhausted because the exploding freeway woke him up. He sits down on the button that ignites Phil's explosives. The explosives beneath the streets ignite, destroying the FTi billboard. Phil and the boarders run away from the police, and Murray reunites with his ex-girlfriend Mona. As Arnold and Helga watch them, they begin talking about the events of that night and agree that it was all "in the heat of the moment." (As neither of the two were ready to deal with the fallout of the confession.) The movie ends with Helga running cheerfully as Eugene sings a song about the neighborhood being saved.
Cast & Characters
- Main article: Characters
In 1998, when Nickelodeon renewed Hey Arnold! for a fourth season, they also came to an agreement with show creator Craig Bartlett for two feature-length movies based on the series. One theatrical release, and one made directly for TV and video. The original plan was for the theatrical feature, known as Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie, to be about Arnold going on a search for his lost parents; while the TV movie, originally titled Arnold Saves the Neighborhood, was about Arnold saving his neighborhood from being torn down by developers. The Neighborhood movie was written and recorded in 2000, along with most of Season 5, and was treated as the last three half-hours (98, 99 and 100) made for television. It was originally set for a Spring 2001 release date. According to Craig Bartlett, Helga confessing her feelings to Arnold face-to-face was specifically saved for this movie.
However, in late 2000, after the success of The Rugrats Movie (1998) and Rugrats in Paris: The Movie (2000), as well as successful test screenings, executives at Paramount and Nickelodeon decided to give Arnold Saves the Neighborhood a theatrical release under the title of Hey Arnold! The Movie, hoping it would have a similar success. When this decision was made, Nickelodeon also ordered three more half-hours to fill in the now-open gap in Season 5's production schedule, which became the episode "April Fool's Day" and the hour-long special "The Journal".
According to Jim Lang, the decision to convert the TV movie into a theatrical film was made when the project was mostly complete, and the production crew spent time improving the animation and raising the TV movie's production values and technical aspects to make it look like a theatrical production. Jim Lang even used his own entire paycheck for the project to hire a real orchestra!
Awards and Nominations
- Joey Paul Jensen was nominated for Best Casting for Animated Voice Over, Feature Film in the Casting Society of America awards.
Critical Reception and Fallout
Despite its miniscule budget (reported to be $3-4 million), Hey Arnold! The Movie was still considered a box office flop. The film only grossed $13,728,902 domestically, and a worldwide total of $15,249,308. Despite this being around five times its budget, the film wasn't considered as successful as other Nickelodeon films like The Rugrats Movie (which made over $140 million worldwide).
It also should be noted that while the film costed around $3 million to make, (as it practically used the same methods of animation as the TV series itself, with few enhancements), Nick and Paramount spent $13 million just to promote it -- over 4 times the cost to make the movie itself. Hey Arnold! The Movie is one of a few films in history where the cost to promote the film greatly eclipsed the cost to make it.
The movie's failure at the box office had wider implications. After the movie's release, production on the second film, Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie, ceased, leaving the series with an unresolved cliffhanger ending, until that movie was revived over a decade later.
In his first interview on The Arun Mehta Show, Craig Bartlett blamed its release date for the little amount of money it made. (The film was released shortly after Lilo & Stitch and Scooby-Doo (2002). The Powerpuff Girls Movie, which was released a week later, also flopped.) Bartlett also criticised the trailer that gave away the confession scene on top of the FTi tower, which "amazed" him.
The film currently holds a 29% approval rating, with an average rating of 4.6/10 at RottenTomatoes.com, based on 78 critic reviews. Metacritic.com indicates a score of 47/100, the aggregate score coming from the averages of 23 critic reviews, and a 6.5 user score. The users of the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) rated the film 5.9 out of 10. Sky Movies in the UK gave the film 2 stars.
Despite the mixed to poor reviews from critics, the movie has received a fair amount of praise from the Hey Arnold! fandom and has been considered to be underrated and a cult classic among cartoon fans. However, it is also widely agreed by fans that this film should've stayed as a TV film.
- This was the first Nickelodeon animated movie to receive a PG rating for Thematic Elements.
- Practically every student from P.S. 118 except Arnold, Helga and Gerald is relegated to a minor role (which include several of the supporting characters) or a background role (which include all the other students).
- Arnold, Helga, Gerald, and Scheck have a different shading than every other character.
- Some 3D models were used in the film; for the FTi helicopters, the bulldozers, Scheck's car, and Murray's bus during the chase scene.
- Big Bob's hair is shown to be brown in the movie. However, in all of his appearances throughout the series, his hair was always gray.
- At the end of the credits, the first song that is playing Lil' Romeo's 2-Way and is also the first single for his album Game Time. There also was a music video for the original soundtrack of the movie.
- The "sneeze" sound effect in the Nickelodeon Studios vignette, was originally featured in the Nintendo 64 video game, GoldenEye.
- Mrs. Vitello speaks again for the first time since "Part Time Friends".
- The movie's plot shares many similarities with the episode "Save the Tree"; such as Big Bob and Nick Vermicelli working together, Grandma hijacking a bulldozer, and Arnold going to the Federal Office of Information. Mighty Pete itself also appears in the opening scene of the movie.
- Before being converted into a theatrical film, Arnold Saves the Neighborhood, much like other Nickelodeon TV movies (such as Channel Chasers), was going to exist as a full 70-minute TV film and as three separate episodes, with Arnold Saves the Neighborhood, Part 3 being the series' 100th half-hour.
- This is Spencer Klein and Sam Gifaldi's last time voicing Arnold and Sid, respectively.
- Arnold's voice for the movie's teaser trailer was provided by Alex D. Linz, most likely since the teaser was made long after the film's actual voice work was recorded, and Spencer Klein's voice had already changed by the time the film was selected for a theatrical release.
- The poster for Hey Arnold! The Movie was based on the one for Nickelodeon's previous theatrical release, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, with the main hero up front (Arnold, Jimmy), his friends behind him, and the enemy (Scheck, King Goobot) hovering above, reaching out to them and being larger than their actual size.
- Arnold and Gerald's spy attires are a reference to Men in Black.
- When Grandma Gertie breaks out of prison, her escape is identical to that of Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption, i.e. escaping through a secret passageway concealed by a poster.
- In the context of a fight with Nick Vermecilli, Big Bob is splattered with green pickle juice, his eyes become red, and fights even harder, a reference to The Incredible Hulk.
- When Scheck sings, "You'll take the high road and I'll take the low road" after he and the bus switch places, those are the lyrics to The Bonnie Banks O' Loch Lomond.
- The scene of the bus clearing the destroyed overpass is a reference to this scene from Speed (1994).
- When Scheck tells Arnold, Gerald and Helga, "And I would have gotten away with it, if it wasn't for that meddling football head, the kid with weird stack of hair, and that brat with the one eyebrow." This is a reference to Scooby Doo, in which every episode had a criminal saying "... and I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for you meddling kids!"
- In one of the opening shots and in the final shot, a building resembling a mix between the Transamerica Pyramid and the Empire State Building can be seen in the skyline.
- Within the series' timeline, the movie takes place between "Eugene, Eugene!" and "April Fool's Day".
- Many minor characters and one-shots from past episodes make cameos in the movie, particularly during the first third. Some examples include Dr. Bliss, Miss Felter, and Ray Doppel.
- Arnold and Gerald already know Mr. Bailey, since they first met him in "Arnold's Christmas".
- When Helga overhears Nick Vermicelli taking with Scheck through his cellphone, she's looking at a pair of Nancy Spumoni snow boots in a magazine; another callback to "Arnold's Christmas".
- In the beginning of the movie, Mr. Green is aware of Scheck's plan before anyone else, since he was elected as city councilman in "Mr. Green Runs".
- The Pig War is mentioned.
- Stinky is seen wearing his shirt from the pilot at the end and on the cover of the book adaptation.
- Gerald once again says to the receptionist, "What would you say if I told you I don't believe all that?", and subsequently gets thrown out of the building with Arnold just like in Door #16.
- When Phil is telling Arnold about the Tomato incident, he says that the residents fought the British behind a barricade of upturned vegetable carts, but in the flashback, they're fighting from the top of the boarding house.
- While the Tomato Incident happened in the Revolutionary War, Hillwood City is on the West Coast!
- When we see the outside of the arcade, the banner in the window says "closing in 3 days", but in the arcade, Arnold says that the neighborhood would be torn down in 2 days.
- At the beginning of the scene where Grandpa and the boarders discuss a plan in case Arnold and Gerald fail, the Scheckvision monitor says "00:14:04 until construction begins". At that point in time (the afternoon before the bulldozers arrive), there would be around 14 hours left, not 14 minutes.
- When Mr. Bailey is talking to Arnold and Gerald, the keys on his keyboard are small, but when he is searching for the document, they're bigger. Although, it could be because that it's a different computer or it was the angling.
- When Arnold and Gerald are outside the city coroner's house, there's a double door. But when they go in, it's a single door.
- When Helga kisses Arnold, Arnold's hat falls off, but when it is falling down, Arnold is still wearing his hat.
- In the scene when Scheck's employees blow up the overpass, Nick Vermicelli is seen with two criss-crossing bandages on his face in an "x" shape. When the camera zooms in on his face, he has only one bandage on his face.
- On the theatrical poster and DVD cover, Phoebe's sweater is colored yellow instead of blue. Along with that Sid's jacket is a dark blue, his jeans have become brown pants and his beatle boots are completely black.
- Main article: Hey Arnold!: The Movie (video game)
There was also a game for Nick Arcade that was a game called Runaway Bus. Where you can pick a mode, Cruise, Crazy and/or Runaway. Then a person, Arnold, Helga, Gerald and Grandpa. Then drive and pick up people from a bus stop.
- Transcript of the movie
- Quotes from the movie
- Helga's confession in various languages
- Hey Arnold!: The Movie (book), a novelization of the movie
- Extract from the book above
- Subtitles for the movie
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