Hey Arnold! The Movie (2002) – movie review

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Movie Review by Vivienne Messenger

Starring (voices of): Spencer Klein, Francesca Smith, Jamil Walker Smith, Dan Castellaneta
Director: Tuck Tucker

Building on the success of the Nickelodeon TV series HEY ARNOLD!, the premise of the movie finds Arnold (Spencer Klein) confronted with the prospect of losing his home, his friends, his neighbourhood and his way of life. Why? Well, a big corporation, Future Tech Industries (FTI), headed by the suave but ruthless Mr Scheck (Paul Sorvino) has grand plans of buying up several blocks, demolishing the buildings and construct a glossy, glassy new mall in its place – all in the name of progress. Arnold though interprets Mr Scheck’s “no gain without pain” philosophy differently. Taking up the gauntlet, even though a young boy, he is galvanised into the kind of action that most adults would baulk at, and along with his friend Gerald (Jamil Walker Smith), they decide to fight back.

With a massive slick marketing campaign FTI encroaches on the lives of Arnold and his neighbourhood winning over the mayor and causing pandemonium for those under threat from the development project. Even a public demonstration against FTI proves fruitless when aggressive police tactics quickly disperse it. Moral hits rock bottom among the neighbours who are all scrambling to sell-out.

With the odds stacked against them, including a local group of ‘businessmen’ who are in cahoots with Scheck and stand to gain financially from the development going through, a window opens for Arnold and Gerald when they learn that their neighbourhood was awarded a ‘national landmark’ status years ago. They embark on a challenging quest to locate the missing document with the help of Bridget (the local spy-kid), Deep Voice (a mysterious caller that gives them leads) and Helga, the daughter of one of the unscrupulous businessmen who is torn between loyalty to her father and her crush on Arnold whom she secretly worships.

Will Arnold and Gerald along with their friends help manage to save their neighbourhood from obliteration? The end result is probably a foregone conclusion but the movie is certainly entertaining, more for the younger ones in the audience than adults though. It certainly made enough of an impression on my 5 year-old son who avidly watched the TV series afterwards.

3 out of 6 stars