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Saving the Neighborhood

The Nickelodeon-Cartoon Network movie war continues with Nick's most-recent entry into the fray, Hey Arnold! The Movie.

An evil industrialist (voice of Paul Sorvino) intends to knock down the neighborhood in which Arnold (Spencer Klein), the kid with the football-shaped head, and his friends happily reside. Needless to say, Arnold must fight the clock to thwart this catastrophe. In the '80s, animator Craig Bartlett introduced Arnold in some independent claymation-styled shorts. "Arnold Escapes from Church" was brilliant, and "Arnold Rides a Chair" almost as good. Eventually Arnold got picked up as a series on Nickelodeon, which is still running after six years. The series format mandated a joke pace much less dense than the rapid-fire shorts, and the first Arnold feature (directed by Tuck Tucker, from a script by Bartlett and Steve Viksten) dilutes the richness even more. There are mildly amusing parodies of Disney films, Speed, and Mission Impossible, and one or two jokes directed toward adults, but for the most part Hey Arnold! The Movie is just barely diverting, even at less than 80 minutes--a TV episode inflated past its natural length.


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