Hey Arnold!: The Movie

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Hey Arnold!: The Movie Movie Poster Image
Nothing new, pretty dumb.
  • PG
  • 2002
  • 76 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 13 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Lessons about the importance of preserving historical neighborhoods.


Positive Messages

Preserving unique neighborhoods and the small businesses that sustain them, requires a lot of work in the face of outside interests who would rather tear down whole sections of cities and convert them into malls packed with the same kinds of chain stores you see in most places.


Positive Role Models & Representations

Arnold cares about his friends, his neighborhood, and the people and stores of his neighborhood, and is willing to work hard to find a way to rescue his neighborhood from being demolished at the hands of a greedy developer.

Violence & Scariness

Cartoonish violence. A character sits on a bear trap. Two characters fight in a kitchen where one wields a spatula and another wields pickle juice. Two security guards are hit with billyclubs -- one is hit in the groin. Dynamite explodes, no one is hurt. One character punches out another. A character stands under a bird and is hit in the face with bird droppings.


Sexy Stuff

Name-calling: "Football head."


Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There is a brief scene in a bar. Characters have unspecified drinks in front of them, but no one acts intoxicated.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hey Arnold!: The Movie has the potential to inspire family discussions about the importance of preserving historical neighborhoods, and how preservation can sometimes be at odds with monied interests and what others believe to be "progress." There's cartoonish violence here and there (punching, dynamite explosion where nobody gets hurt), but it's relatively tame compared with other cartoons out there. And there are lessons about the importance of close-knit neighborhoods and the people and small businesses that sustain them.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11-year-old Written by[email protected] January 16, 2019
Parent of a 9 and 12-year-old Written byBarry S. July 25, 2016

Pretty Bad

It's nothing short of idiotic.
Teen, 13 years old Written by9002K November 9, 2020
Age 5+??! Dumb?!!
Teen, 13 years old Written by9029K November 2, 2020

What's the story?

HEY ARNOLD!: THE MOVIE finds its football-headed hero with a heart of gold in a save-the-neighborhood situation. A big bad wolf industrialist named Scheck (voiced by Paul Sorvino) wants to turn Arnold's happy suburb into a "mall-plex." Most of the adults reluctantly sell their homes, but Arnold arranges benefits and does research on how to save the town, undiscouraged by Scheck's constant attempts to crush him and the pessimism of everyone else. He eventually finds out about a Boston Tea Party-esque event that occurred in his town during the Revolutionary War and works to get the town saved as a historical landmark.

Is it any good?

Hard-core fans of the television series will enjoy seeing the Hey Arnold! characters on the big screen. But most everyone else will be bored with the characters, the animation, and the predictable chain of events.

Kids may enjoy seeing Arnold save the day, but adults will snooze through it, due to a storyline everyone's seen before, unexceptional  animation, and characters that range from uninteresting to unappealing. There are some amusing voice cameos from Jennifer Jason Leigh and Christopher Lloyd, as well as references to Men in Black II and The Incredible Hulk. And if anyone these days comes close to being Mel Blanc, it's Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons), who gives wildly different characters such genuine personality that one would never guess that they come from the same guy. If only those voices had a better script.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Hey Arnold!: The Movie compares with the TV show.

  • What keeps Arnold so positive during such stressful times?

  • Why does Arnold's neighbor Helga (who looks and acts almost exactly like Rugrats' Angelica) feels the need to hide her crush on Arnold by being mean to him?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animation

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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