Arnold: Somebody has to.
Hey Arnold! The Movie is an animated film based on the Nickelodeon animated TV series Hey Arnold! The film was released in theaters on June 28, 2002 by Paramount. It is the final Hey Arnold! production to feature Spencer Klein as Arnold Shortman, Sam Gifaldi as Sid, Steve Viksten as Oskar Kokoshka and Baoan Coleman as Mr. Hyunh.
The film takes place between "Eugene, Eugene!" and "April Fool's Day". Alphonse Perrier du von Scheck (Paul Sorvino), CEO of Future Tech Industries (FTi for short), plans to demolish Arnold's neighborhood and build a large shopping center in its place, forcing all of the inhabitants to move away. Helga G. Pataki (Francesca Marie Smith), Arnold's Loving Bully is torn between helping Arnold save the neighborhood, and allowing it to be destroyed (as her father, Big Bob (Maurice LaMarche), will be opening a beeper store in the new shopping center, which will make the Patakis very wealthy in the process), but she ultimately chooses to help her beloved Arnold. Secretly of course.
Arnold rallies the neighborhood and hosts "Blockapalooza," a block party held to protest against FTi's plans. Unfortunately, the permit allowing them to close a public street was stolen by Scheck's employees, so the police arrive at the scene and declare Blockapalooza illegal. Arnold's grandmother Gertie (Tress MacNeille) is jailed for being hostile to the police suppressing the rally.
As demolition day closes in, Gerald Johannsen (Jamil Walker Smith) tells Arnold to stop looking on the bright side of things and that you cannot always win. While everyone else accepts their fate, Arnold doesn't give up so easily.
While packing up their things and reminiscing about the past, Arnold's grandfather informs Arnold of the "Tomato Incident", a Boston Tea Party-like event that occurred in front of the boarding house during the Revolutionary War, which Arnold realizes would mean that the neighborhood is a historic landmark and cannot be torn down. However, the declaration that would prove this has mysteriously disappeared, and it doesn't take Arnold long to figure out that Scheck has it. Along with Gerald and, unbeknownst to him, Helga as his Mission Control, makes it his mission to recover the document from Scheck before it's too late.
WARNING: This a very spoiler-heavy movie, and while some are marked, others may not be. Proceed at your own risk.
Hey Arnold! The Movie provides examples of:
- 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: The FTi helicopters, the bulldozers, Scheck's car, and Murray's bus are 3D models.
- Adaptation Dye-Job:
- Big Bob has brown hair in this film as opposed to the gray hair he had in the animated series and second movie. Craig Bartlett would later state that Bob dyed his hair because he was going through a mid-life crisis at the time. Whether that was always the case or simply a Retcon to cover up a coloring error is unknown.
- The poster and DVD cover art (as seen above) depicts Phoebe's sweater as yellow instead of blue, Sid's jacket as dark blue instead of black, and Harold's hat is turquoise instead of the darker shade of blue.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: After Arnold discovers that Helga was the one posing as the mysterious "Deep Voice" helping him out, Helga has no other choice than to give one to Arnold near the end, along with a very passionate kiss, which confuses and freaks him out. She takes it back at the end of the movie, claiming it was just her being emotional.
- Animation Bump: The film's animation is significantly better than the rest of the series.
- Artificial Limbs: Murray the bus driver has a titanium leg prosthesis after he lost his real one in the army. Because of this, his girlfriend dumped him, as she "wanted a whole man". They reconcile after he helps stop the neighborhood from being demolished.
- Big Bad: Alphonse Perrier du von Scheck, who plans to raze the neighborhood and build a shopping mall.
- The Big Damn Kiss: Between Helga and Arnold after Helga's Anguished Declaration of Love.
- Big Damn Movie: In spades.note While the regular series is purely Slice of Life and features down-to-earth problems faced by each individual characternote , the movie is a different deal.
- Big "NO!":
- Scheck roars "No!" upon witnessing Arnold, Helga and Gerald escaping—with the videotape that exposes him burning the document.
- Grandpa, as Harold sits down on the detonator for the explosives meant to stop the bulldozers (in case Arnold's plan failed).
- Brick Joke: Eugene's song about FTi threatening to bulldoze the neighborhood later becomes a Triumphant Reprise at the very end, when Gerald interrupts him.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Bob is asked by Vermicelli if he knows anything about a "football-headed kid", to which he dismissively replies he doesn't. Arnold is the only kid that Bob has antagonized several times who fits the description (his most notable moment being in "Parents Day"), but Bob has no recollection of him. Then again, Bob wasn't really paying attention to Vermicelli's question since he was too distracted with playing with the neighborhood model.
- Chekhov's Gun: The remote controlled car that Arnold takes from Bridget (which Gerald questions) proves useful in distracting security when they sneak into the FTi building for the second time.
- Chekhov's Skill: Gerald's favorite video game, Runaway Bus, has given him enough skill to drive a real bus when Murray is knocked unconscious (though Arnold and Helga have to help him since he's too short to reach the pedals).
- Community-Threatening Construction: The villain's plan, razing down the neighborhood and replacing it with a mall.
- Conspicuous Trenchcoat: "Deep Voice"'s standard attire. Helga also wears stilts under the trenchcoat to appear taller.
- Construction Vehicle Rampage: Defied. Scheck plans to bulldoze the entire neighborhood and build a shopping mall. As a result, bulldozers are prominently used in the climax.
- Continuity Nod: There's a couple involving the episode "Dino Checks Out." Out of his album covers spoofing The Doors' Strange Days is seen in Grandma's jail cell, and the Dino impersonator is seen in the bar Arnold and Gerald sneak into.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Scheck, who isn't above burning a historical document declaring the neighborhood where the main characters live as a national landmark just to build a huge mall.
- Curse Cut Short: Twice with the same word cut off.Gerald: Man, that Deep Voice is a pain in the a—[the bus' air brakes hiss]
Vermicelli: Yeah, Bob. Yes, you're a full partner, didn't I get through tellin' you that? What are you callin' me for? Go to bed. What about your contract? You got a problem with the contract, Bob? Oh, for heaven... Quit reading that thing and get some rest! [hangs up] Stinkin' pain in the—
- Another example when Vermecilli gets a phone call from Big Bob.
[cut to the Pataki house]
Big Bob: Why, that no-good little runt! [slams the phone down)]
- Dead Foot Leadfoot: Non-lethally, during the chase at the end of the movie, the bus driver faints, and his metal leg pins the gas down for Gerald to steer them to safety.
- The Dragon: Nick Vermicelli becomes Scheck's main lapdog in the movie, doing everything he can to ensure Scheck's plans go to fruition.
- Dramatic Thunder: Accompanies Arnold confronting "Deep Voice" on top of
- Even Evil Has Standards: While Scheck is chasing Arnold, he tells Nick to blow up the overpass Arnold is on. Nick is hesitant, telling Scheck that it's a serious enough crime to warrant a fifteen-year-to-life prison sentence. He does so anyway after being yelled at by Scheck.
- Evil Is Petty: Scheck's motivations to destroy Arnold's neighborhood go beyond greed — He's doing it to avenge the defeat his ancestors suffered during the Tomato Incident.
- Evil Overlooker: On the poster and DVD cover, Scheck appears as a being watching menacingly over the other characters.
- Fan Disservice: Grandma Gertie in her showgirl outfit during Blockapalooza. It comes with noticeable, unflattering cleavage and Jiggle Physics. It gets weird when she's initially seen in it as she appears to have the body of a younger woman. Thankfully after she's arrested we just see her in a standard prison jumpsuit.
- Faux Affably Evil: Scheck appears to be well-mannered at first, but it fades over the course of the movie.
- Groin Attack: Arnold and Gerald try to slip past two security officers working for Scheck by hitting the guards with sheathed swords. Arnold hits one guard in the foot while Gerald slams his weapon right in the other's family jewels.
- Hate Sink: Alphonse Perrier du von Scheck is the land developing head of Future Tech Industries seeking to tear down the entire neighborhood where Arnold Shortman lives to make up for a major battle Scheck's British ancestor lost during the American Revolution. Scheck hides the document to keep the truth about the neighborhood's historic significance secret, later burning it too and then spitefully tries to kill the main characters before and after he's exposed. He's ultimately portrayed for the most part as nothing but a smug and dominating figure for most of the film.
- Head-Turning Beauty: Bridget, the spy girl who lends the boys their gear. She's a curvaceous woman with a sultry voice in a form-fitting bodysuit. Both Arnold and Gerald immediately fall for her as soon as they meet her, and Gerald even faints when she gives him a good luck kiss (albeit on the cheek).
- HeelFace Turn: Big Bob turns on Scheck and Vermicelli after discovering that Scheck will receive 51% of all profits made on his new beeper store.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Having dozens of security cameras that record everything that goes on his building bites Scheck right in the ass when Arnold manages to get a video of him burning the document from the security footage.
- Implausible Deniability: Once Arnold and Gerald track the document back to Scheck, he tells them that he had some people look into it and they found out that the document doesn't exist. Having learned from the coroner that the document was purchased by FTi at an auction with a collection of various other historical papers, it's obvious to Arnold and Gerald that he's lying.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Mr. Scheck looks a lot like his voice actor Paul Sorvino. Bridget also has a slight resemblance to Jennifer Jason Leigh.
- Knight of Cerebus: Scheck's much more evil and played seriously than the other characters.
- Majority-Share Dictator: Big Bob Pataki initially goes along with Mr. Scheck's plan to bulldoze Arnold's neighborhood and replace it with a mall because he was promised that one of the stores contained therein would be his largest-ever beeper emporium. Later on, however, he reads the fine print of the contract and discovers that in exchange for said beeper emporium, Scheck gets 51% of the shares in his company. Cue one HeelFace Turn.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: A small running gag has Gerald voice admiration for Scheck's suit.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers would make you think the film was primarily about a block party concert to save the neighborhood. The block party in question is only merely a very brief scene near the beginning that is actually an abysmal failure for the main characters.
- Non-Standard Character Design: Arnold, Gerald, Helga and Scheck have more detailed shading than the other characters, probably to highlight their importance. (Then again, the film was originally a Made-for-TV Movie that got upgraded to theatrical at the last minute, so they probably didn't have time to do it to everyone.)
- Number of the Beast: When Arnold and Gerald go to visit the coroner for the missing historical document, he tells them that it was bought by a private corporation at an auction. The address is 66613 Riverside Highway, which happens to be the location of Future Tech Industries.
- Out of Focus: All of the regular cast besides Arnold, Gerald, Helga, Big Bob, Phil, Gertie and the boarding house residents (bar Suzie) were given a reduced spotlight. Phoebe, who is considered a main character alongside the former three, is the most notable case. She only got one line in the entire film.
- Read the Fine Print: Bob did not do this before signing the contract with FTi, and comes to regret it once he discovers that Scheck now owns 51% of his business. Though in Bob's defense, he did ask Vermicelli if there was any "funny business" before the latter pressured him into signing.
- Serial Escalation: From occasionally-bizarre slice-of-life adventures to saving the neighborhood from a dangerous megalomaniac (emphasis on the "dangerous" part) who wants to bulldoze it.
- During the fight between Big Bob and Vermicelli, Bob gets pickle juice spilled on him and turns green, rips off his shirt, growls angrily and charges at his opponent.
- The climax on the bus is a shout-out to Speed, complete with the bus jumping over the gap in the highway and the bus hitting a cart full of cans (much like in Film/Speed, when the bus hit a carriage full of cans).
- In the bar, after Vermicelli gets drinks spilled on him, he asks for two more Bartletts, a reference to Craig Bartlett.
- Deep Voice / Helga tipping off Arnold and Gerald is an homage to Deep Throat, the undercover informant from All the President's Men.
- Slasher Smile: Scheck shows one when he burns the document in front of Arnold and Gerald.
- Soft-Spoken Sadist: Scheck's voice is pretty unassuming and somewhat soothing for a villain, but he tends to lose this when he gets mad.
- Something Else Also Rises: When Helga plants The Big Damn Kiss on Arnold, it's enough to make Arnold's hat come off of his head, with an accompanying "pop" sound. (Sure, it's windy on that rooftop, too, but...)
- Status Quo Is God: At the end, Helga admits to Arnold that she was just caught up in the "heat of the moment" and being emotional, and does not really love him. Subverted somewhat in that after Helga yells at him and storms off, Arnold can be seen cooly smiling, suggesting he knows Helga really does love him and was just covering it up.
- The Starscream: Nick Vermicelli started out as Bob's adviser in the series, but here he betrays Bob and sells his business out to give Scheck 51% ownership. Bob does NOT take kindly to this.
- Trailers Always Spoil: Nickelodeon showed various commercials of scenes leading up to the release of the film. One of these completely spoiled that Helga finally confesses her love for Arnold. (They didn't show how he reacted to it, though.)
- Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Scheck is surprisingly serious and ruthless for an antagonist from the Hey Arnold series. He outright tries to murder Arnold in the climax.
- Villain Ball: Scheck purchases a document that would prove Arnold's neighborhood is a historical landmark and therefore can't be torn down and he keeps it hidden in a filing cabinet instead of destroying it. The idea of destroying it doesn't occur to him until after he catches Arnold and Gerald with it, which leads to him being caught on a security camera burning the document.
- Villainous Breakdown: Scheck starts out appearing as an affable but very weaselly businessman, but eventually loses it to the point where perfectly willing to order the overpass a bus is driving on, with children aboard— blown up and later run over several people, including children, with his car.
- Villainous Gentrification: The pitch Scheck tells the press as justification for his scheme is that the construction of his mall will bring more jobs and economical growth to the district. He is not only willing to destroy historical property because one of his ancestors got pelted with tomatoes there, but he's willing to endanger kids when they get too nosy.
- Vinyl Shatters: Seen during the block party, when Suzie and Grandpa Phil are the DJs, Phil is annoyed with Suzie's vinyl-spinning techniques, and grabs the LP record she was playing and smashes it easily.
- Vocal Evolution: This film was the last time Spencer Klein voiced Arnold and Sam Gifaldi voiced Sid, and judging by the slight deepening of their voices in this film, it's pretty obvious why.
- Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises: Arnold's reaction during The Big Damn Kiss from Helga.
- Would Hurt a Child: Scheck is shown to not hesitate to kill Arnold and his friends if it will allow his plans to come to fruition: First by blowing up the overpass that their bus was on, then by trying to run Arnold and Gerald over with his car (which Pookie prevented by stripping the tires).
- You Meddling Kids: Scheck says "I would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for that meddling football head, that kid with the weird stack of hair, and that brat with the one eyebrow!" just as he's being led away by the police.