For roughly a decade, the possibility of seeing Arnold reunite with his parents seemed like a pipe-dream, but it has finally become a reality.
We begin this movie with Arnold landing in San Lorenzo, the place where his parents went to before their mysterious absence. Eventually, he reaches a temple and finds his parents inside...but the inside of the temple looks like the neighborhood and they soon leave with Eduardo on another adventure. Of course, this is all revealed to be a dream, one that Arnold has had for quite some time based on his talk with Grandpa Phil after he wakes up. Gerald meets up with Arnold as they both head off to school for the last day of this school year. Helga & Phoebe do the same at Bob's Beepers and Helga points out to her dad that no one wants beepers now that cellphones exist. On the last day of school, Mr. Simmons tells the class of a humanitarian project, it's sponsored by Helpers for Humanity, the same group that Arnold's parents worked for and the prize is a trip to San Lorenzo. Naturally, Arnold volunteers for this project and Gerald agrees to help his friend, the project is due in one week.
Arnold (with Gerald's help) decides to build a house for Monkey Man that can float on the river, but other homeless people take it apart, claiming the items used to built it as their own. Some time after this unfortunate turn of events, Abner manages to find Arnold and wants to go on a walk; they run into Helga not too long after that and Helga hears about Arnold's disappointment that his hopes to make it to San Lorenzo have gone down the drain. Once Arnold leaves, Helga monologues to herself about helping Arnold fulfill this goal and after her usually routine with Brainy, she activates the "Arnold Signal" (an obvious nod to the Bat Signal) to contact Phoebe and we find out that Helga has recorded many of Arnold's exploits (even the ones we, the audience, never saw Helga present for) and she goes to Gerald's help to compile the footage together in a way that would be presentable for the project. Gerald points out how awkward it is that Helga has all this footage of Arnold, but agrees to help for Arnold's sake and asks why Helga would want to help Arnold (although his smile when Helga gives an answer suggests he knows the truth); we also see the other class members lending their help too. Later on in the night, Arnold returns home and his grandpa tells him that there are people waiting for him on the roof and the these people vary from his classmates to other adults; they present Arnold with the video they created to help him win the trip to San Lorenzo. Besides Helga's gathered up footage, there are clips of various characters talking about how Arnold helped them, one of them is Pidgeon Man, which puts a certain rumor to rest. Mr. Simmons adds that the class was immediately chosen for the trip upon seeing the video and Gerald tells Arnold that he has Helga to thank for making this possible, Arnold gives his thanks to Helga and Helga has a big smile on her face. Elsewhere someone is looking at Arnold's image on a computer screen, seeing his head matches the football shape and lets out an evil laugh.
As Arnold is preparing for the trip, Grandpa Phil enters the room to tell Arnold that Arnold's passport has arrived but he doesn't want to give it to Arnold unless Arnold promises not to go looking for his parents, fearing that Arnold may run into La Sombra as his parents have in the past but doesn't seem to object to Arnold meeting up with Eduardo. When Arnold is signing his passport, it is revealed that his last name is "Shortman", a fact that Craig Bartlett had revealed in some interviews after the show ended. The next day, the class are at the airport and we see Mr. Simmons saying goodbye to Peter, who appeared in the Thanksgiving episode and Olga reveals that she is joining the class on this trip as both the student teacher and a chaperon (Big Bob wants her to bring a bag of beepers along for the trip); Abner also stowed away to join Arnold on this trip. Upon arrival at San Lorenzo, Arnold goes to Eduardo's house with Gerald but they notice that it looks like a struggle happened...only for them to discover, not too long afterwards, that Eduardo is the captain of the boat that the group will be taking to their destination; Eduardo looks a bit different compared to how he looked on the show and he is now voiced by Alfred Molina rather than Carlos Alazaraqui. Eduardo tells Arnold a bit about his parents on the boat ride and gives him a necklace from the Green-Eyed People, mentioning how Arnold silenced a volcano when he was born. Gerald is upset with Arnold for keeping his conversation with Eduardo a secret because they're best friends and Helga also becomes upset when Arnold dodges her when she tries to confess her feelings to him, she even rips her Arnold picture apart and tosses it and the locket into the river...but Brainy dives into the river shortly afterwards. While Abner is acting strange around Eduardo, river pirates attack the boat although the group eventually manage to escape even though the boat explodes (Abner is also no where in sight). Eduardo admits that the river pirates are affiliated with La Sombra and that they're after Arnold but won't tell the others anything else, which adds to Gerald & Helga's frustrations towards Arnold. Upon arriving to their destination, Eduardo reveals himself to be La Sombra and this was all a trap to lure Arnold to San Lorenzo to use him to find the Green-Eyed People but he words it in a way to have the other group members turn against Arnold!
Although Arnold is in a separate cell from the others, the walls of the two cells are connected and Helga overhears Arnold crying about how bad things have become and that he'll never see his parents again. Helga's anger evaporates and she declares to herself that she will help Arnold but is horrified when she remembers what she did with her locket...only for Brainy to reveal that he found it and put it back together for her; Helga kisses Brainy in gratitude and he responds to it by playing a pan-flute. Helga, Gerald and Phoebe hatch a plan where the fist two will escape with Arnold while the latter will lead everyone else from the cell, figuring that the guards will stay behind as long as most of the prisoners are still in the cell; they are able to pull the plan off and Phoebe manages to combine Rhonda's cellphone, the beepers Olga has and various other items to form an S.O.S. message without needing the password for the wi-fi...she sends the message to Bob & Miriam who realize Olga is in danger...and acknowledge Helga too, after a moment. Meanwhile, Abner managed to return to Sunset Arms Boarding House (we see flashbacks explaining Abner's journey after the river pirate attack) and tells Arnold's grandparents with Grandma Gertie/"Pookie" translating for Abner that Arnold is in danger. At the airport, the Shortman Grandparents meet up with the Pataki Parents and they all take a plane Big Bob rented to reach San Lorenzo. Unfortunately, La Sombra planned on Arnold escaping since the Green-Eyed People wouldn't show themselves if he was present, so he placed a tracking device on Arnold so he could follow him from a distance.
With Helga and Gerald, Arnold discovers that looking at the map in his dad's journal through the Green-Eyed People necklace he has provides directions to reach the Green-Eyed People and it helps them to bypass the obstacles that were made to stop unwanted visitors; La Sombra uses his minions as human shields to get around these obstacles which leads to the death of these minions. While this is going on, the rest of the group plan their escape and how to trap the guards and they manage to pull this off but one guard was unaccounted for and plans to attack...only for the Shortman Grandparents and the Pataki Parents to arrive and rescue the rest of the group! After going through all the obstacles, Gerald falls through a hole covered by flowers with Arnold & Helga following after him and they come across a shrine resembling Arnold (Helga quips she's seen better) and they see a group of people dressed like animals...and they recognize Arnold and call him by his name! The animal dressed characters are revealed to be children of the Green-Eyed People and they take the trio to the secret village of the Green-Eyed People...but there only seems to be children present. The leader of the children show the trio around and thanks to noticing some sleeping adults and looking at paintings, they figure this relates to the sleeping sickness that Arnold's parents tried to cure; the leader of the children shows Arnold the Corazon (the item that La Sombra has been obsessing over) and try to tell him something but the only English she knows is Arnold's name and Arnold tries to explain he needs more details to go off of to help.
Unfortunately, La Sombra arrives (revealing the tracking device was on the necklace) and he holds Arnold hostage so he can escape with the Corazon; Helga & Gerald follow after him but the wooden bridge they're crossing is breaking and La Sombra refuses to let Arnold help them until he opens the Corazon. Like the map, Arnold figures out how to open the Corazon by looking at it through the Green-Eyed People necklace and the artifact inside is the Heart of Gold; La Sombra is shot with a poisonous dart from the Corazon when he tries to claim the Heart of Gold and he falls over the ledge. Arnold tries to pull Helga and Gerald up but he ends up being in their position of possibly falling off...but all three of them are saved by the real Eduardo (who actually resembles his appearance in the show and is voiced by Carlos Alazaraqui); he explains that La Sombra did try to ambush him at his house but he was able to escape and follow after them. La Sombra climbs back up and now has a sickly look, he tries to claim the Heart of Gold one more time but it ends up falling over the edge and he does so again once the poison takes full effect.
Thanks to a nearby stone bridge, the three kids and Eduardo return to the secret village and Eduardo is able to translate for both languages; it turns out Arnold's parents are still alive but they were also affected by the sleeping sickness. Helga figures out that they were suppose to put the Heart of Gold into an indent on a device to activate the cure and she offers he locket as a substitute and it results in the cure being released as an artificial rain! Slowly but steadily, the parents of the Green-Eyed People awaken and Arnold's parents awaken last, their first words to their son upon waking up is a title drop for the show. Later on, Helga tries to get her locket back and Arnold goes to her to talk about what she had on her mind; he admits he figured Helga might have actually had feelings for him and that he didn't want to deal with that earlier on but he also recognizes that Helga went through so much for him and she is to thank for him finally reuniting with his parents...this leads to Arnold and Helga sharing a kiss.
The next scene is Arnold waking up in his room and things in Sunset Arms Boarding House seem to be playing out as they did in the beginning of the movie...until Arnold's parents show up with breakfast, confirming that it was no dream. We also find out that time has skipped ahead to the next school year and Arnold and Gerald head off to school with Helga and Phoebe...Arnold's parents even want to walk him to school. The movie ends with Arnold entering the school and his parents assuring him they will be waiting for him when the school day is over.
It's still a surreal feeling knowing that Hey Arnold has finally received proper closure after about a decade of being unsure; it definitely reminded me of Samurai Jack's final season earlier this year in regards to that surreal feeling. I laughed, cried and smiled throughout the movie, it definitely brought forth many feelings and reminded me of why Hey Arnold is one of my favorite shows. Thank you Craig Bartlett, Nickelodeon and everyone else involved for giving this great show the ending many have been waiting for very patiently.
I LOOOOOVED this movie! It was way better than the theatrical 2002 film. I'm glad (and also not surprised) they had Saerom Animation do the overseas animation, given they worked on the original series. They did a great job working with the characters and franchise again here, even if the colors were brighter.
As for the voices, the new guy that voiced Mr. Huynh and Oskar was perfectly spot-on! Arnold, Eugene and Sid also sounded really good; Gerald was so-so and Stinky wasn't that great. (With Arnold it's probably because I was so used to how he was recast a few times in the original series.) I also loved hearing Harold and Helga's original voices; they can still do them really well (ESPECIALLY with Harold.)
As for the whole Shortman thing, I'm not that surprised, as Craig Bartlett did confirm that was Arnold's last name. (Maybe with the "Rocko's Modern Life" TV movie, Rocko's last name will be revealed as "Rama?") I also enjoyed the callbacks to the original series, and giving Mr. Simmons and Olga prominent roles.
I also find it interesting how despite using several modern technologies (like the Smartphones), people in Arnold's city were still driving older-style cars (from the 40s to the 60s at least) and the city was operating old-style buses, but then again, the original series did that a lot as well. And then there was Helga editing the contest video on what appeared to be a massive older tape-based linear editing system. I thought she would've done it on a computer, as that's how many people do it today (especially at my college, where they mostly use Mac desktops for video production.)
But yep, this was such an awesome movie that wrapped up the "Hey Arnold!" franchise really nicely. Now to start waiting for "Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling!"
I saw the movie and I just loved it. Arnold finally found his parents and he confessed his feelings for Helga. One of the best TV movies I've ever seen. And it's a good thing this whole cliffhanger thing died out.
Might I say that this was a better send off than Samurai Jack?
I for one think that by far, this was much cleaner than the wrap up season 5 of Genndy's masterpiece. But then again this was one movie while Jack got a mini season (not sure if that makes Samurai Jack's ending less disappointing or more so for me). All in all, I didn't hate Samurai Jack season 5 at all, but this is definitely how you end an old, nostalgia soaked, animated classic after over a decade of cancellation.
Great suspense, great action, great resolution. And yet you feel the adventures could just go on and on as usual. Honestly if this was just a test to see if continuing the series was a viable option, I wouldn't be too upset (although I can see such a cash grab ruining everything very easily ).
Truthfully, besides Samurai Jack (apologies for bringing this up again), I didn't see a need for any old childhood cartoon to be regurgitated for nostalgia pandering, I'm so glad Craig Bartlett, the crew and Nickelodeon proved me wrong.
Good bye, Hey Arnold.
EDIT: Also what is the nature of Arnold and Helga's relationship going forward?
I liked this movie, but it ended kind of abruptly. Arnold's reunion with his parents was more subdued than I was expecting, but it was alright. I would've liked if they had some more screentime though. This is a nitpick, but I thought the movie was a little excessive with the nostalgic callbacks. But they started happening less and less as the movie went on.
I thought the fakeout with Eduardo being Sombra was foreshadowed well, given how he wasn't voiced by Carlos Alazraqui in the beginning and the stuff about Eduardo's house being ransacked. I'm not sure if I'd rank this movie above The Journal, but it was a fine end to the series.
I actually wouldn't mind if a sixth seasons happens now. I'd like to see Arnold interact with his parents more.
That was amazing. I even teared up a little. A really satisfying conclusion to one of Nick’s most beloved shows. I wasn’t even expecting him to find his parents still alive (and yeah, they stayed in good condition after a decade long coma), so that was a nice surprise.
I’m now definitely looking forward to future specials of old Nicktoons now!
I loved it! After all these years waiting for Arnold reuniting with his parents, I think it's worth a wait. And I agree, this is so much better than the 2002 Hey Arnold Movie. Also, Arnold and Helga finally kissed. I think us 90's fans had a great night. I don't know how I say this, but I guess petitions really paid off after all. Anyway, I'm so glad Arnold finally reunite his parents after be awaken by this Sleeping Beauty Syndrome. All I can say is, thank you Craig Bartlett and congratulations for finally giving us the great ending of the series.
Every second from start to finish was spectacular.
Craig Bartlett, the cast and his crew put so much effort, ingenuity and love and into it -- and you can tell how much they worked on it by bringing back the font alone. Thank you, everyone and Nickelodeon.
it looks like the best movie ever, i also like the ending with Arnold's parents finally meeting Arnold, and they walk Arnold to school. I wonder how the ratings will turn out? Since I've seen there's a trend on twitter, then maybe I can guess, at least 2 mil viewers? If the movie does well, then I should expect this to show encores of movie as well in future
My personal synopsis: I'm not the most energetic or enthusiastic person you'll ever meet, but that doesn't mean I can't have fun. Generally, I'm pretty introverted and usually play video games, watch anime, and also study in the field of IT. I'm a huge music fanatic, as well. And I listen to pretty much everything except country. My favorites being trap, jazz, and metal.