Reviewer's Rating 2 out of 5  
Hey Arnold! The Movie (2002)

US kids' TV channel Nickelodeon has a solid track record of creating startlingly popular shows for the little 'uns.

Animated series Hey Arnold!, chronicling the adventures of a genial lad with a football-shaped head and his quirky neighbourhood, is no exception; it's regularly watched by 45 million people a month.

While clearly ripe for big-screen treatment, Hey Arnold! - like all of Nickelodeon's previous attempts ("The Rugrats Movie", "Jimmy Neutron - Boy Genius") - suffers from a debilitating laziness and a stubborn refusal to do anything new.

The story is rife with political correctness and liberal sympathies as Arnold and his band of cheerful pals team up against greedy industrialist forces, who want to turn their beloved neighbourhood into a mall.

So, Arnold and his best mate must race to locate a document which will attest to the area's historical importance and make it a protected landmark.

Chief amongst the film's problems is the rough 2D animation, which compared to what cinematic audiences are regularly greeted with these days, comes across as an abomination and somewhat embarrassing.

There is also a laboured reliance on homaging other films ("Speed", "Men in Black II", "Scooby-Doo"), which, while fun to spot, highlight a lack of imagination.

Which is not to say that the venture is entirely without merit. The considerable charm of the TV show has made it intact to the screen, and the pace is brisk.

The film is also blessed with an array of memorable characters, and the portrayal of a close-knit community is both funny and affectionate.

Die-hard fans will love it, but, despite being mildly diverting and inoffensive, nothing special leaps off the screen.

End Credits

Director: Tuck Tucker

Writer: Craig Bartlett, Steve Viksten

Stars: Spencer Klein, Francesca Smith, Jamil Walker Smith, Dan Castellaneta, Paul Sorvino, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Christopher Lloyd, Vincent Schiavelli

Genre: Animation, Family

Length: 76 minutes

Cinema: 20 December 2002

Country: USA

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