Hey Arnold! You suck!

By Gus Bode

The football-headed kid from Nickelodeon hits the big screen

Starring:The voices of Spencer Klein, Jamil Walker Smith

Running Time:1 hr. 16 min.


Nickelodeon has released another of its popular cartoons to the silver screen. But despite its popularity as a series, “Hey! Arnold:The Movie” fails as a film because it has a much weaker storyline than even a typical half-hour episode.

“Hey! Arnold:The Movie” is based on the cartoon, “Hey! Arnold.” The main character in the film and cartoon is a boy named Arnold (voice of Spencer Klein), who has a football-shaped head and lives with his grandpa and grandma in an old boarding house. A uni-browed girl named Helga (voiced by Francesca Smith) plagues Arnold and his best friend, Gerald, (voice of Jamil Walker Smith) on a daily basis.

In “Hey! Arnold:The Movie,” Arnold’s neighborhood is in risk of being demolished by evil land developer, Mr. Scheck (voice of Paul Sorvino). Arnold and Gerald go off in search of a way to save their homes. The storyline already reeks of Steven Spielberg’s “The Goonies.” In “The Goonies,” a group of teenagers also searches for a way to save their homes from a land developer.

There’s nothing really remarkable about this movie that makes it better than the regular series episodes. The main story idea has been done many times over, and the writers even sank to using the classic “Men In Black/Blues Brothers” black-suit cliche at one point. There is, however, a critical revelation in regards to the actual “Hey! Arnold” series made in the film, but it’s more or less a sinister ploy to get those familiar with the show to go see the movie.

In a half-hour time slot, the cartoon works fine, but the concept just doesn’t transfer well into a film that lasts more than an hour. The only two saving graces of this film are the wit and humor of Grandpa Phil, which mostly appeals to adults, and the short but sweet cameo of Christopher Lloyd as the voice of a coroner. Dan Castellaneta, who is the voice of Grandpa Phil, is also the voice for Homer Simpson on “The Simpsons.”

After the rise and fall of “Rugrats,” “Hey! Arnold:The Movie” is a bold yet desperate attempt by Nickelodeon to cash in on a semi-popular cartoon. At one time, Nickelodeon was at the peak of the cartoon market. But with the introduction of the “The Powerpuff Girls Movie” from Cartoon Network and competition from Disney’s “Lilo & Stitch,” it would be no surprise if “Hey! Arnold:The Movie” gets demolished in favor of more creative animation.

Reporter Jared DuBach can be reached at [email protected].