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Western Animation / Hey Arnold! The Movie

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"This is our neighborhood and we're not giving it up without a fight!"

Gerald: Why do you do that Arnold? Why do you always have to look on the bright side?
Arnold: Somebody has to.

Hey Arnold! The Movie is an animated film based on the Nickelodeon animated TV series Hey Arnold! Originally planned to be broadcast on TV as Arnold Saves the Neighborhood, the film instead 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, Arnold's best friend Gerald Johannsen (Jamil Walker Smith) tells him 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 Phil (Dan Castellaneta) informs him 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. With Gerald and, unbeknownst to him, Helga as his Mission Control, Arnold makes it his mission to recover the document from Scheck before it's too late.

The film also stars Jennifer Jason Leigh as Bridget.

A Made-For-TV sequel, Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie was released on November 24, 2017.

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 intended to be 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.
  • Artistic License – History: The pivotal "Tomato Incident", which is said to have occurred during the Revolutionary War, and involved American Colonists protesting British tomato taxes. Hillwood is in Washington state, which was not part of the Thirteen Colonies.
  • 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 Brother Is Watching: Deconstructed. Future Tech Industries has surveillance cameras everywhere in the building and Scheck would use them to foil the attempts of anyone trying to steal the document and stop his evil scheme. Near the end, however, these same cameras would also be used against him in order for the kids to get an Engineered Public Confession.
  • 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. It plays out more like a spy thriller, and the two main characters embark on a high stakes mission.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Scheck roars "No!" upon witnessing Arnold, Helga and Gerald escaping—with the videotape that exposes him burning the document.
    • Grandpa Phil yells "No" 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. One could say Bob thinks very little of Arnold to even care to remember him. Then again, Bob wasn't really paying attention to Vermicelli's question since he was too distracted with playing with the neighborhood model.
  • Caught on Tape: This is what causes Scheck's downfall. Despite burning the document in front of Arnold and Gerald, he failed to remember the abundance of security cameras in his building, and it led up to the boys getting their hands on a videotape that recorded his crime.
  • 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.
    • Future Tech Industries has security cameras all over the building, which Scheck use twice to catch Arnold and Harold when they sneak in, and Arnold uses this to his advantage to get the video evidence of Scheck burning the document.
  • 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.
    • Mr. Bailey of "Arnold's Christmas" makes another appearance helping Arnold and Gerald find the historic document of the "Tomato Incident" to save the neighborhood along his favorite donut shop "Dolly's Donuts" from being torn down. After coming up short, he's the one who directs the boys to see the coroner who would know about the historic documents
  • 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.
  • Covers Always Lie: A double-case. The poster of the movie depicts Phoebe in the background to be wearing a yellow sweater and violet jeans. In actuality, she wears a blue sweater and a blue skirt. Also, she has a highly minimal appearance in the actual movie.
  • 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]
    • Another example when Vermecilli gets a phone call from Big Bob.
    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—
    [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.
  • Destroy the Evidence: While it may have been important for Scheck to destroy the document to ensure his plans succeed, it eventually proves to be his biggest mistake due to his surveillance cameras capturing everything!
  • Did You Actually Believe...?: Scheck, when he confronts Arnold and Gerald when he catches them trying to find the document and reveals his true motives for wanting to destroy their neighborhood, but when he burns said document in front of the two boys, it proved to be a big mistake: his camera strategy backfired on him, and how!
  • Didn't Think This Through: Scheck to the fullest extent. While it was important that he has security cameras all over his building to stop potential intruders from foiling his scheme, the same cameras would be used against him when he burned the document in front of Arnold and Gerald, which then led to them getting their hands on a videotape that recorded his crime, as well as the document being shown as clear as possible before he burned it.
  • The Dragon: Nick Vermicelli becomes Scheck's main lapdog in the movie, doing everything he can to ensure Scheck's plans go to fruition.
  • The Door Slams You: One of Scheck's guards slams the door of the security monitor room open on Arnold's face while leaving the room. After the guard walks away, Arnold simply brushes off the pain on his nose, then enters the room to find the video monitor that recorded Scheck burning the document.
  • Dramatic Thunder: Accompanies Arnold confronting "Deep Voice" on top of the roof of the main FTI building.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Scheck burns the document in front of Arnold and Gerald, but they don't need the actual document to save the neighborhood and expose his scheme; they let his security cameras do the job for them and Arnold gets the video needed to prove it.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: While Arnold is in the middle of a brief Heroic BSoD over Scheck burning the document, "Deep Voice" attempts to salvage the situation by asking if any copies of the document exist. Arnold bitterly notes Scheck would never make a copy...but then remembers the security cameras always recording in the building, including in the very room Scheck burned the document.
  • 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.
  • The Faceless: The mysterious informant “Deep Voice” who helps out Arnold and Gerald. Turns out Deep Voice is none other than Helga Pataki.
  • 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.
  • Fiery Cover Up: Scheck burns the document with his cigar lighter, which proves to be a huge mistake, thanks to his surveillance cameras.
  • 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).
  • Heel–Face Turn: Big Bob turns on Scheck and Vermicelli after discovering that the contract Vermicelli had him sign gives Scheck 51% ownership of Bob's company.
  • Heist Episode: This film combines this trope with Spy Fiction type where Arnold and Gerald must recover an important document that the Big Bad is hiding from them to save their neighborhood. As you’d expect, it goes downhill FAST when the villain catches them and then burns the document in front of them. fortunately, there just so happened to be cameras everywhere….
  • 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.
  • Hulking Out: Parodied. Vermicelli throws pickle juice at Bob, that it causes him to get super angry and adopt an appearance similar to the Hulk.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Despite his inital protests that it's completely different, Gerald is able to successfully drive a bus through most of the climactic chase because he has the high score on the Runaway Bus game at the arcade. It's at least partially justified as the game in question is controlled like an actual bus with a steering wheel, gear shift lever and foot pedals.
  • 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 eviler and played seriously than the other characters.
  • Landmark Declaration Gambit: This involves the search for documents that would help prove that the neighborhood the protagonists live in is historically significant, which would give it landmark status and would prevent Big Bad Corrupt Corporate Executive Alphonse Scheck from tearing it down to create a mall. When Scheck destroys the documents, the final act's Race Against Time then becomes that of taking the security tape that captured his gloating that the documents existed before he burnt them to the authorities.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After Arnold and Gerald show the city's officials and the infuriated townspeople the tape of Scheck burning the document, Scheck is ultimately arrested.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Both of Eugene's scenes are examples of this. In the opening once everyone discovers that Scheck is going to tear down the whole neighborhood, Eugene appears and starts to sing-implying a musical number-till Arnold turns off the video cassette player and tells him "No singing". A sly reference to the fact that many animated movies based off kids shows have musical numbers in them. The second scene at the end where Eugene is once again about to sing after the Neighborhood has been saved only for Gerald to stop him and say "Shows over" just as the movie ends.
  • 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 Heel–Face 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.)
  • Obviously Evil: Scheck to the point that the address of 66613 Riverside Highway, happens to be the location of his company 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.
  • Properly Paranoid: Scheck's security camera system is set up all over the building recording everything that goes on 24/7, and it proves its effectiveness by twice catching Arnold and Gerald when they sneak past the guards. There's even a security camera in the security room itself with a direct line to his office so he can catch anyone who isn't supposed to be there possibly tampering with the cameras, and he can replace any disabled cameras with just a press of a button. Unfortunately, it later proves to be a big mistake for Scheck, since it also catches everything he does, such as burning the historical document.
  • Race Against the Clock: While the countdown to the neighborhood's destruction started with a month's deadline, by the time the "find the document" plan is thought up of, the kids have two days (48 hours) left to stop Scheck's plan.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out:
    • 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 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.
    • Helga calls Bridgette Catwoman at one point.
  • 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, when awkwardly discussing their moment on the rooftop, Arnold and Helga both mutually agree that it was strictly done in "the heat of the moment" and her being emotional, with Arnold saying she doesn't actually love him. Subverted somewhat in that, as Helga begins yelling at him, Arnold is coolly smiling at her and all but smirking as she stomps off, suggesting he finally knows her true feelings for him and her being mean is just a cover-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.
  • Swiss-Cheese Security: Very much averted. FTI Headquarters is armed with various cameras, and any uninvited intruder never makes it far. And yet, Deep Voice was able to make it on the premises completely undetected.
  • 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.)
  • Vehicular Sabotage: As Scheck arrives at the neighborhood to reprimand the construction crews for not doing their jobs, he is horrified to find that his scheme has been exposed and tries to escape the angry townspeople advancing on him, and in doing so, tries to run everyone over, including Arnold and Gerald, only to find that Pookie stripped his tires. The angry mob has made sure Scheck wasn't going anywhere, except to prison.
  • 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: After Arnold and Gerald continue to interfere with his Evil Plan, Scheck loses his Faux Affably Evil demeanor he'd shown for most of the film, to the point where he's 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.

Alternative Title(s): Arnold Saves The Neighborhood