Animated Movies, Opinions, Television, TV

[REVIEW] ‘Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie’

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Hey Arnold! is back after 13 years.

[NO MAJOR SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW]

 

Finally, after over a decade of waiting, the long-running Nicktoon Hey Arnold! gets the finale it deserved all those years ago.

For those who are unaware, Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie was originally intended to be the theatrical film that ended the series and was to be released around 2002. A TV movie titled Arnold Saves The Neighborhood was also made around this time. However, after successful test screenings, Nickelodeon opted to instead release the TV movie in theaters first as Hey Arnold! The Movie and release The Jungle Movie later. Unfortunately, the first movie wasn’t well received critically or commercially. That, and contract disputes between Nickelodeon and the series creator, Craig Bartlett, caused The Jungle Movie to be cancelled.

Recently, though, ’90s nostalgia has been a big driving force in the entertainment world, and Nickelodeon has made a big effort to capitalize on this. It brought a ’90s-themed programming block to its Teennick channel called NickSplat. It has ramped up production on DVD boxsets of these shows, and most importantly greenlit several TV movies based on its old properties, including Legends of the Hidden Temple, Rocko’s Modern Life, and Invader ZimThe most anticipated of these movies was the Hey Arnold! movie, and Nickelodeon took this opportunity to finally make The Jungle Movie after years of fanmail requesting it give Arnold and his friends closure to their story.

The story takes place one year after the 44-minute special The Journal, which was made as a prequel to the would-be movie at the time. Arnold’s class is selected to enter a contest to win a trip to San Lorenzo, the country where Arnold’s parents have been lost on for the past nine years. Arnold’s class wins and they go to San Lorenzo with the intention of learning about the country. They instead find themselves held captive by Lasombra, an evil treasure seeker who believes Arnold is the key to find the city of the Green Eyed people and its treasures. Arnold, Gerald, and Helga escape and use the map and Arnold’s journal to find the city and Arnold’s lost parents.

With a plot like that, it would have been easy for this film to lose the laid back, slice-of-life feel of the original series. The Jungle Movie avoids this by keeping the characters true to themselves. The characters react to the high concept situations in ways that make sense for them, keeping the movie’s feel very similar to the show.

The animation is also very good. It fits somewhere in the middle between traditional TV animation and theatrical 2D animation. The backgrounds and the shading on the characters at times look absolutely stunning. There’s only one part with a CGI temple that looks really jarring, but it’s only for a few seconds. Overall, the team did a great job making the animation pop out.

This movie is a phenomenal entry in the Hey Arnold! franchise. I won’t spoil the ending, but it not only gives this series a crowd-pleasing and satisfying conclusion, but also leaves the door open for a potential new season of the Hey Arnold! series. Before I saw this movie, I wasn’t sold on the idea of more Hey Arnold! episodes after this movie, but after watching it I really want to see more stories with these characters again. So, no matter what happens, I’m satisfied with the treatment of this childhood staple of mine. It felt really good to finally see this movie after years of thinking it was cancelled forever. Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie is an example of a fantastic byproduct of this ’90s nostalgia boom.

What did you think of Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie? Did you think it was satisfying after years of waiting?

Edited by: Hannah Wilkes

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About Trevor Roberts

Trevor has loved animation since he was young. He would watch any animated movie or cartoon and wonder endlessly about just how they made it. He made his own flipbooks and short movies throughout his childhood. He always wanted to be part of the animation industry. These days, Trevor attends college and majors in 3D Animation. Aside from animation, he also enjoys video games, computers, and photography. You can follow him on Twitter @trevdiggitydawg.

  • Yep, I enjoyed this movie. And whether or not there is going to be a revival series I thought this was a satisfying conclusion to the original tv series.

  • I loved that we finally, finally, after all these years, got the movie Craig Bartlett wanted to make, and that it didn’t disappoint. Each character had a chance to shine, we got answers to questions we’ve been waiting a long time for, and even though it was action packed, it was still full of the subtler moments that made the series stand out, where the emotional moments have the chance to breathe. Personally I’d love if we could get a revival of the show, but if not I’m more than satisfied with The Jungle Movie – finally this great series has a satisfying finale.

  • Juuchan17

    I honestly never got into “Hey Arnold!” during its original TV run, but I knew enough about the characters from occasional episodes to thoroughly enjoy “The Jungle Movie”. Heck, my mom was drawn into the movie as well, and she’d never heard of or seen the series before! The ending had me feeling satisfied, I’ll say that.

    Overall, it was one of those movies that makes me want to check the series out and see if I can rewatch the movie (and the previous theatrical one) afterward again. I know this series is considered as a really good one amongst classic Nicktoons fans!

  • Sangria Crusader

    I remember seeing comments on YouTube from people saying: “No Season 6! Let this end the series properly!”

    Selfish much? Have you seen cartoons nowadays? Aside from DuckTales, would you really consider shows like Teen Titans Go!, Ben 10, The Powerpuff Girls, Pickle and Peanut, Future-Worm and more as “quality entertainment?” I sure wouldn’t.

    I may not like characters like Rhonda or Mr. Simmons or Lila, but darn it… I think today’s generation deserves the humor and life lessons that Arnold gave us. After seeing TJM, I can’t help but want a new season as well. Arnold, Helga, Gerald, Grandpa and Grandma are just as endearing as I remember them. Danny C. and Tress MacNeille can still voice Grandpa and Grandma flawlessly! And Francesca still owns Helga as her own!

    Honestly, in an animation landscape as dismal as today’s generation… Arnold would be a bright spot.

  • Charles Caulkins (HomuculuSabe

    I don’t get why everyone likes this movie so much. I grew up on Hey Arnold, enjoyed watching the show (maybe even “love” but that’s a bit too strong for me) and I was really looking forward to the movie to when it came out. But now that it’s out… I hated it. They did so many things wrong and safe and basically so many stable characters were reduced to being instruments for the movie’s existence than actual characters. I also found the ending to be really dumb, if not cliche and too perfect. Questions are answered, but I certainly didn’t care enough to finally learn Arnold’s last name or find out just how damn “special” Arnold the child of the volcano was. There was no life lesson or engaging character writing in this movie. It was nostalgia blind fanservice, It did NOT feel like Hey Arnold at all, and I don’t think this is the kind of movie fans wanted, no matter how much they convince themselves. Again, I grew up watching Hey Arnold, liked the original show… hell, the FIRST MOVIE was better than this, because at least more characters got a chance to shine and react to what goes around them. Mr. Simmons class was flat out forgotten by the last half hour after their part was done, and the movie only focused on four characters; Arnold, Gerald, Helga, and La Sombra. Everyone else was part of the peanut gallery to build up screen time.