Friday, November 24, 2017

Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie | Interviews With The Creator And Cast | Nickelodeon *Updated 11/23*

To celebrate Nickelodeon USA premiering the networks brand-new Hey Arnold! television movie, Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie, on Friday, Nov. 24, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. (ET/PT), media outlets have unveiled a raft of fantastic interviews with Craig Bartlett, the creator of Hey Arnold!, and the shows OG voice cast, in which they talk about the show's past, The Jungle Movie, and what the movie may hold for Nickelodeon's iconic animated series! Check out a selection of the interviews below!:


Hey Arnold! voice cast interview on The Jungle Movie, reauditioning for roles

Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie Voice Cast: Olivia Hack, Anndi McAfee, Lane Toran at New York Comic Con 2017 - Photo Still Credit: Nir Regev

Hey Arnold!’s original voice cast spoke to us about the upcoming Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie and reauditioning for their roles.

Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie is arriving on Nickelodeon on Nov. 24. We got to speak to the film’s voice actors about reprising their roles and starting brand new ones. You might be surprised to learn that the original voice cast from the series had to reaudition for their roles. For some, the tides of time have changed their voice forever … Including the original Arnold, Lane Toran, who plays Che in The Jungle Movie.

Olivia Hack [Rhonda Wellington Lloyd] and Anndi McAfee [Phoebe Heyerdahl] promised there’s going to be answers and resolutions to “burning questions” that fans have pondered for a decade. The voice cast seemed enthusiastic about the chance The Jungle Movie leads to a new Hey Arnold! reboot television series, as opposed to a one-off definitive finale.

Good news for Hey Arnold! fans. Tune in and watch The Jungle Movie, tweet about it, and new episodes will surely follow.

Interview with Hey Arnold!’s Olivia Hack, Anndi McAfee, and Lane Toran – Nir Regev: So, this is it. The definitive finale for Hey Arnold! How do each of you feel about it?

Lane Toran: Wait, is this the end?

Anndi McAfee: Is this the end of Hey Arnold!? We don’t know! Sort of, kind of …

Olivia Hack: We’re saying that it’s resolution and not closure. So, hopefully we go to a series from this or what not. But there’s definitely going to be resolution for fans, there’s a lot of fan service.

Anndi McAfee: There’s answers to some burning questions that people have had for the past decade.

Olivia Hack: People are going to be really happy I think.

Lane Toran: What they said, that was perfect. A lot of questions will be answered.

FS: How does it feel coming back to his kind of show after so many years? Especially on a script that was originally written in the early 2000s.

Olivia Hack: It’s amazing! I mean, we all had to reaudition for our parts so that was a little nerve wrecking. You know, as to whether or not we’re gonna pass the test.

FS: Really?

Olivia Hack: Well, ’cause you don’t know if we’ve all been chain smoking for 20 years. Right? Our voices could change. It’s an honor and a privilege to get to do this again. It feels like right now they bring back a lot of shows but they don’t really. So, to be part of a show that resonated in the culture, that was worthy of bringing back is pretty cool.

Anndi McAfee: It’s such a perfect mix of some of the original people, who we grew up with on the show, and sort of a new generation of kids who are taking over some of the roles. It’s that old magic but then you get to continue it on with this new generation of kids and it makes it an even more unique experience.

Lane Toran: Yeah, Mason [Vale Cotton] and Lil’ P-Nut [Benjamin Flores Jr.] who’s playing Arnold and Gerald, the new ones, they’re awesome. I think the fans are going to absolutely love them.

Anndi McAfee: They’re so cute. And all the other kids.

Lane Toran: See, I don’t know the other ones, I haven’t met them.

Anndi McAfee: They’re sooo cute and they are these characters! I mean they picked it right up and fused their own personalities. They’re so good!

Olivia Hack: They did a great job of casting.

FS: When you mention that you had to audition for the parts, that process … Did anyone not make it from the original cast?

Olivia Hack: Yeah, well Lane obviously is playing a different character.

Lane Toran: Yeah, I didn’t audition. Obviously, I couldn’t play Arnold again.

Olivia Hack: They auditioned Jamil [Walker Smith] who played the original Gerald and I think they knew … But they wanted it to happen. I saw him at the audition and he looked at me and he was like, “I can’t still do this voice, I don’t really know why I’m here.” But he’s also playing a different role. So, that’s cool too. Yeah, so one person didn’t make the cut. Luckily as women, our voices don’t change too much.

FS: You’ve [Anndi McAfee] actually had a really storied career with The Land Before Time and the Tom and Jerry movie.

Anndi McAfee: Both Olivia and I have been continuing acting, that’s our gig. That’s what we do all day every day. We’re both voice actresses. We’re still there! Doing all these cartoons. And Land Before Time is something that I’ve done for just as long as I’ve done Hey Arnold! now. So, I started that when I was a kid as well and we just had a movie come out last year.

FS: Do you feel this is the wave of the future, to kind of reboot the past, the Nickelodeon past? The original cornerstones of the network.

Anndi McAfee: I feel like if people love a property or a show or whatever you want to call it. Why not? There’s so many ways to consume content now, and you can find an audience anywhere. So, if that’s what an audience wants …

Olivia Hack: And it gives people an opportunity to reintroduce it to their children in kind of a fresher way. It’s exciting.

Anndi McAfee: If something has that longevity, there are more stories to tell. Maybe in slightly different ways with new generations that grew up loving the stories. Now, they can add to it in their own way. Why not? I liked it.

Lane Toran: Yeah, it’s just, it’s nostalgia too.

FS: Are you guys big on nostalgia?

Anndi McAfee: I mean, I think so!

Olivia Hack: I think that’s a human thing. Something that tugs on your heart strings, that makes you think of a simpler time or a better time in your life. Who doesn’t love nostalgia?

FS: Clearly Hey Arnold! was that time for you guys! Thank you very much!

Hack, McAfee, Toran: Thank you!


From Bustle:

Arnold From 'Hey Arnold' Knows You Think He's Hot & His Reaction Will Make You Love Him More

Lane Toran, the actor who voiced Arnold on Hey Arnold!, for the most part, from 1996 to 2001 is probably a bigger fan of the show than you are. Toran is returning for the upcoming Hey Arnold Jungle Movie as a character named Che, since he is, after all, much too old to voice the 9-year-old Arnold. But the actor achieved fame outside of his voice acting roles for one huge reason: in 2015, viral articles began appearing that declared the "Guy Who Voiced Arnold In Hey Arnold! insanely hot now." And, as Toran reveals to me over the phone on a Tuesday afternoon, he wasn't at all expecting the internet to give him that title.

"I was literally on my couch one night — it was pretty late at night — and I was watching TV. My phone just started blowing up," he explains. "And I was like, 'what the hell is going on?' From there, people were sending me the article, and I was like, 'oh, okay, great.'"

Toran was especially surprised by the sudden praise for his looks because he hadn't been expecting Hey Arnold! fans to find him. During his stint on the show, he was credited as Toran Caudell, and, at the time that he became a 2015 viral sensation, he had just changed his professional name to Lane Toran. (He was born Lane Toran Caudell, if you're curious.) "I had literally just moved away from L.A. from the whole acting life and stuff and moved to North Carolina," he says. "... [So] it was actually overwhelming."

But don't think that Toran is, necessarily, upset by the attention. "It was great, though. It’s so cool interacting with these fans of the show and talk[ing] to them online," he says. However, he hasn't gone so far as to have internalized the compliments. You can think he's hot all you want, but he hasn't developed an ego about it. "Could you imagine if I was like ‘yeah, I totally think that of myself’? That’s so weird… Oh, god. No, I don’t see it like that at all. It’s actually more funny to me than anything."

Viral moments aside, Toran's relationship with his past as a Hey Arnold! voice actor is a good one. He attends conventions, he interacts with fans, and he speaks fondly of getting to see all the "memes and all the fan fiction... that we didn’t get to see when we were actually doing the show." To him, Hey Arnold! represents a kind of kids' show that we just don't get to see very often anymore.

"A lot of the [modern] cartoons, they’re so different than ‘90s cartoons in the way that it’s all very fast paced and loud noises. There’s no real storyline; it’s just a bunch of crap going on," he says. Which is partly why he's glad that Hey Arnold Jungle Movie is coming to introduce an entire new group of children to everything that made the show special. "It’s fun for younger generations to get a new take on how cartoons were in the ‘90s... Hey Arnold! has so many stories, real stories, and you learn stuff even if you didn’t realize it."

Toran is a self-proclaimed fan of the show, who claims that he didn't read any of the Hey Arnold Jungle Movie script but the pages his character was on so he could be surprised along with other fans. So much so that an unconventional Hey Arnold! episode has still touched him to this day: "Field Day." In the episode, Arnold's class visits an aquarium where he meets "terror of the deep," a giant sea turtle named Lockjaw. However, when Arnold sees Lockjaw, who is old, depressed, and so ill-cared for that his shell is covered in graffiti, he conspires with his grandmother to break the turtle out.

"I don’t remember exactly what Arnold said," Toran admits. "It was something along the lines of like ‘I got you’ or ‘I’m going to get you out of here’. But they had this moment. I’m a huge animal lover, so for me that was my favorite." Say it with me now: awww.

So, yeah, former Hey Arnold! voice actor Lane Toran is a regulation hottie now, and he knows that you think so. But he's so much more than that: a model, a musician, an animal lover, and a Hey Arnold! fan — probably a bigger fan than you are. If that just makes you crush on him even harder, you're not alone.


From Blasting News:

Craig, ‘Helga,’ and ‘Phoebe’ discuss ‘Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie' The popular animated series 'Hey Arnold!' is debuting a brand-new TV movie on Friday, November 24, 2017.

“Hey, Arnold!” is one of the most well-known and beloved animated children’s television shows that ever aired on Nickelodeon. Debuting in 1996 and running through 2004, the show [VIDEO]was renowned for its blend of surreal humor with realistic topics.

Craig Bartlett is the man behind “#Hey Arnold!” (not to mention other classics such as “Dinosaur Train” and “Ready Jet Go!”). Although it was an animated cartoon created for children, it was not targeted towards particularly young children. In fact, the plots and themes of the series frequently centered on very emotionally mature, psychologically deep, and serious issues including dementia, poverty, mental trauma and/or illness, childhood neglect, romantic obsession, unrequited love, addiction, and various kinds of dysfunctional relationships.

The remarkable feat (and beauty) of “Hey Arnold” was that, despite its serious content, the show was anything but gloomy. It was undeniably funny, entertaining quirky and sweet. The fantastic success of “Hey Arnold!” lay in its expertly blended balance between the serious and the humorous, the melding of real-life issues with cartoony fiction…and the majority of that harmonious mixture can be attributed to the incredible ability for writing that its creator, Craig Bartlett, possesses. After spending years working on the hit Nickelodeon shows such as “Rugrats,” Craig pitched his idea for “Hey Arnold!” to Nickelodeon. Subsequently, a pilot episode was produced in 1994, and the show was officially greenlit in the early months of 1995.

Television, content, and the series

“Hey, Arnold” ran from the year 1996 to the year 2004 and, within that time span, the series enjoyed remarkable success.

By the latter half of the 1990s, most children living in the United States (and elsewhere) recognized the characters at a glance. Its content was unique and even somewhat daring since most of the episodes contained a notable amount of educational content centered on deep and often-neglected topics such as human nature, emotions, and the relationship between actions and consequences. However, each one of the episodes--regardless of how serious the underlining themes were--was nonetheless rendered in an age-appropriate way that captivated young audiences. “Hey Arnold” went on to include a feature-length film (involving Arnold, who was raised by his grandparents, seeking to find out what happened to his mother and father) and the series has become a cult-classic that still enjoys air time via reruns even nearing two-decades after the airing of its finale.

The very popularity of this television show among a new generation of viewers is what prompted Craig Bartlett and Nickelodeon to decide to release an all-new TV movie--titled “Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie”--which will air, at 7 PM, on Nickelodeon come November 24, 2017.

“The very last episode we ever made ended in a cliff-hanger where Arnold found a map and wanted to go looking for his parents,” Craig explained via a recent interview. “We left the audience hanging fifteen years ago, and we want this film to help clear things up. Viewers will get to learn Arnold’s last name, find out about much more about his parents, and hear his feelings for Helga.”

Indeed, one of the greatest mysteries of the “Hey Arnold!” series was what became of his parents who apparently disappeared while exploring faraway lands by plane.

“We were making it up as we went along,” Craig said with a laugh. “We didn’t really know exactly what had happened to them either, but now I have had a long time to think about it, so I hope the explanation in this new movie will be satisfactory.”

Voicing characters and TV movies

Francesca Marie Smith, who voiced Helga when she was a child, considers the character to be the most extreme version of herself. Francesca began acting as a youngster and appeared in a number of live-action and voice-over roles for series such as “The Drew Carey Show,” “The Secret World of Alex Mack,” “The Amanda Show,” and more. As an adult, she attended Stanford University and earned a bachelor’s degree in linguistics. From there, she went on to Pepperdine University where she successfully pursued a master’s degree in communication. She is presently enrolled in a doctoral degree program at the University of Southern California, and her work focuses on rhetoric, media, and technology…areas that Francesca is well versed in. Now working as a consultant and a creative in the entertainment industry, Francesca helps to develop stories, plots, and creative worlds for media such as video games and series. Even with these many successes, she is perhaps still best known for being “Helga.”

“I went into the audition and delivered my lines in this aggressive way since Helga was described as a bully,” Francesca explained. “I have no idea where I got the rage from when I was a kid, but I went in and did the audition and got the part right away! Helga is a deep character full of highs and lows. It was very meaningful to have a team of writers help me to define her and, as we explored her more, it was easier for me to voice her.”

Anndi McAfee--best known as the voice of Helga’s sweet, timid, and loyal best friend, Phoebe--has been singing and acting since the age of seven and presently hosts a podcast called “FitMuses.” Although she has experiences with voice-over work in commercials and television (including credits on very successful shows such as “Home Improvement,” “Boy Meets World” and “The Land Before Time”), Anndi noted that it was initially quite challenging to convey the voice of Phoebe.

“The character had been drawn, but she wasn’t really well-rounded when I first auditions for the part and there was no voice for her yet at all,” Anndi explained. “I had done acting work before, but I always used my own voice. Craig told me to make my voice a bit gravelly and timid, and that worked.”

“Hey, Arnold!” was recorded every Thursday for four hours and, as Francesca and Anndi worked together more, their rapport as Helga and Phoebe grew. They started to understand their respective characters more, which deepened their on-screen relationship and even helped the writers develop more detailed plots surrounding Helga’s dominating personality versus Phoebe’s more subservient attitude.

“It’s wonderful to be part of another ‘Hey Arnold!’ project after all these years and experiencing it through the eyes of kids--now adults--who grew up with it,” Anndi stated.

Francesca readily agreed and added, “I hope this movie peaks kids interests and they start to explore the treasure trove that is the backlog catalog of our show’s episodes.”

For his part, Craig Bartlett is very impressed with how the series unfolded and how this new TV movie came together.

“Everyone rose to the occasion and did the best job possible,” he said. “I think this is the best ‘Hey Arnold!’ project ever and I really hope it helps usher in a whole new generation of fans.” #Television Series #Movies


From New York's PIX11 / WPIX-TV:

‘Hey Arnold’ returns for special television event

Arnold is back!

The beloved animated series “Hey Arnold” ended in 2004 but now there’s a special television event happening Friday, November 24th—“Hey Arnold: The Jungle Movie.”

PIX11’s Ojinika caught up with the cast and the creator while they were in town for New York Comic Con and learned what was behind making the new TV movie.

“Hey Arnold, The Jungle Movie” airs on Nickelodeon at 7pm on Friday, November 24th. Get a sneak peek of the movie here -


From SyFy Wire:


If you came of age in the 1990s, then you probably have fond memories of sitting too close to your non-flat screen television, watching old school Nickelodeon cartoons. The original lineup (including Doug and Rugrats) and its bumpers have become iconic, but one piece of programming had a particularly strong following. So strong, in fact, that its fans helped revive the series once they became adults.

Created by Craig Bartlett, Hey Arnold! ran from 1996 to 2004, telling the story of a football-headed youth living with his grandparents in their inner-city boarding house. Across five seasons, Arnold interacts with a plethora of colorful characters in a nameless city, a pastiche of Chicago and New York. November 2002 saw the release "The Journal," a two-part episode that promised to answer a lot of mysteries within the Hey Arnold! universe. "The Journal" revolved around Arnold finding a journal written by his father, documenting his parents' adventures in the Central American country of San Lorenzo as they helped cure the native Green-Eyed people of a strange sleeping disease. Also included are his parents' wedding, the birth of Arnold himself, and his parents being called back to aid the Green Eyes when he was a toddler and never returning.

The episodes were meant to be a prologue of sorts to a feature-length film, The Jungle Movie, that would have Arnold and his friends traveling to San Lorenzo and unraveling the mystery, but the movie was scrapped. Some credit this to the poor reception to the first Hey Arnold! movie while others cite a contractual disagreement between Bartlett and the network. What is more, the series ended with an episode that had no connection with "The Journal," in the summer of 2004.

Nothing more was said about making The Jungle Movie in an official capacity and the film (and the closure it promised for fans) languished in the ether. Online forums pondered endlessly on what the film might have looked like and the plot it contained, but that's as far as the affair went until about two years ago when the news broke that Nick was finally moving forward with the project.

SYFY WIRE got in touch with the show's creator, Craig Bartlett, as well as the voices of Helga (Francesca Marie Smith) and Phoebe Heyerdahl (Anndi McAfee) who gave us some well-needed answers, nearly two decades in the making.

Initial development

"The Jungle Movie was meant to explain the backstory of Arnold's missing parents and this big hole in Arnold's heart where he's not gonna be quite complete until he solves the mystery," Bartlett said. "And now, when everything got cancelled, that was quite a disappointment for us. The actors and I stayed in touch and the artists and I stayed in touch, but basically, we all went on with our lives for a decade."

Fandoms have power

Believe it or not, it was the people who watched the show as kids who saved the show from utter extinction thanks to the advent of social media.

"The groundswell of interest in Arnold from the kids who grew up and became professionals, you know, writing and being artists and being animators and talking to each other on social media, it just was like, over the last few years, it just built to the point where it was time to consider a reboot and I told the execs at Nick that I would love to reboot Hey Arnold!," said Craig. "And the thing we absolutely had to do first was make The Jungle Movie. So, I actually put together a kind of a PowerPoint presentation, I called it 'Arnold 101,' where I showed them what all the features of those hundred, half-hours of Hey Arnold! [episodes], what the main storylines were and how it all was leading to The Jungle Movie. And they said, 'Ok' and so here we are about three years later and we finally finished it."

"We were aware that there was this growing social media fandom out there and we were very honored by that," added McAfee.

So, if ever your child says they want to grow up not to be a fireman or astronaut, but someone who saves TV shows, encourage the hell outta them!

Getting the gang back together

The Jungle Movie not only brings back all of their favorite characters, it reunites a ton of the show's original cast and crew, including Dan Castellaneta (Grandpa Phil), Tress MacNeille (Pookie aka Arnold's grandmother), and Maurice LaMarche (Bob "The Beeper King" Pataki).

"I was kind of the first to actually believe it and I told the actors about it and they were shocked," Bartlett continued. "I think that they slowly came to believe it as well. The supervising producer and director of the movie is Raymie Muzquiz, who was going to direct it in the first place in, I think 2001, he came on and we developed it for a year or so. And I remember Raymie's complete disbelief and we were sitting around in meetings, interviewing people that we were gonna hire for the crew and he was just shaking his head going, 'I guess we're actually makin' this'. So that's been really fun, watching everyone's stunned disbelief become slowly a reality ... There'll be a certain amount of nostalgia about it [for fans]."

Getting back into the Arnold groove

Perhaps the most well-known character after Arnold himself is Helga Pataki, the unibrowed bully who harbors a deep love for the eponymous football head. Surprisingly, Helga was such a big part of Smith, that it wasn't super hard to voicing her after all this time. There was just one scary moment when Nickelodeon asked her to audition for the role again just to make sure she sounded like the character.

"For me, it was surprisingly comfortable [getting back into the role],"she told SYFY WIRE. "I grew up with the character so much, she was so integrated into my sense of self from the time I was nine until I was about 16, that I had kind of forgotten what it felt like to be able to sort of flip back into a role that felt so much like me. [It] so rewarding to have the snappy dialogue and the humor and the emotional range and everything provided for me by Craig and the writing team, both the original writing team and the newcomers who really, I think, managed to capture that spirit and that magic nicely."

For McAfee, who plays Helga's best friend, Phoebe, the experience was a bit more challenging. "To get back into Phoebe after only doing her voice like for fun two times in all of those years was [pretends to cough]. Getting those muscles working again, but once you go back there like Francesca was saying, it's such a part of who you are that it's almost like being home again. You have to find those muscles and then they're just part of you again," she said.

And even though they admit they sounded so much younger while doing the original series, Craig isn't worried in the slightest.

"That's what's kind of cool. Everybody grew up on this show and so, their evolution was happening anyway,"he said. "Everybody was growing up and so, I think it's a natural evolution that everybody will accept completely. I think Helga and Phoebe sound exactly like Helga and Phoebe when you watch The Jungle Movie."

A lasting legacy

Only fans with an unwavering love of the show could have revived it like this and Craig described this as "deep ties."

"I love the fact that this phenomenon of around 2012 where Netflix put up the whole series and people binge-watched,"he said. I'd go talk at a college or something and the student would come up to me and say, 'I just want you to know I binge-watched the whole hundred half-hours three times in a row' and I'd go 'Good, maybe you can stump me. Maybe you'll know some stuff that even I can't remember.'"

Here come the waterworks

Even the main man behind the show who knew what was coming before anyone else did, gets bleary-eyed while watching his creation. He promises the The Jungle Movie will have more of the same and if not, he'll reimburse you (somewhat).

"It's really interesting to watch the really emotional episodes like "Helga on the Couch", "The Journal," "Parents Day," the Christmas special ["Arnold's Christmas"] because I can't watch them without getting choked up and I'm sort of annoyed by when I watch it now like 'Why was I making such an emotional show?!'" Barlett said. "And I'm sitting their kind of [makes defeated noise], all kind go wrung out, wiping away tears. God, in "The Journal" when Arnold is born. When is the last time you guys watched that? It tears you up! All I can say is The Jungle Movie's gonna do that in spades because, I think, our powers of TV-making are even better now and I feel like we have the advantage of all the interest and the fan love for the show. And if The Jungle Movie doesn't make you cry, well, I'll send you a dollar."

Where do we go from here?

Bartlett said that The Jungle Movie need not be the end for Arnold. If all goes well, there could be more of him in the future.

"Nickelodeon has been telling me all along like 'Hey, don't forget'. It's great that there's a generation of super fans who are adults, but don't forget the network is for kids 6 to 11 and needs to serve them as well," said the creator. "So, we really did try to make the movie—introduce everybody properly, set up all the relationships that the series has been about, and be entertaining to kids as well. And if it works and it gets the good numbers and kids watch it as well, then there really is a possibility of doing what we call 'Season 6.' And I really tried to write it that way too so that the door's open at the end of the movie for them enter sixth grade and have a whole new bunch of adventures so that would be great for all of us. We would love it if that was the result and we did it with our eyes wide open, trying to make that happen."

Let's be honest, this is one of those movies (like the upcoming Incredibles II) that is for the adults who grew up with this property, plain and simple.

"I'd love the opportunity to go back to the way that we told stories as a series,"added McAfee. "We wanted it for so long, that waiting the 15 years or whatever it's been, makes it that much sweeter. So I'm trying to relish that right now."

Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie swings onto a television near you on November 24.


From The A.V. Club:

Even in the wilds of The Jungle Movie, Hey Arnold! rarely loses sight of its heart

It’s been 13 years since the last new episode of Hey Arnold!, “Phoebe’s Little Problem/Grandpa’s Packard,” aired on Nickelodeon. But the show’s true finale was “The Journal,” a two-part, story-within-a-story that told the tale of how Arnold’s absent parents met, married, and gave birth to a son in the fictional, Central American republic of San Lorenzo. Ending with Arnold’s discovery of a map that could lead to his parent’s whereabouts, the episode was intended to set up a second Hey Arnold! feature film, but those plans were scuttled, leaving fans of the show waiting indefinitely for a follow-up.

Now, that follow-up has arrived in the form of Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie, in which Arnold will finally, maybe learn what happened to his mom and dad when the kids from P.S. 118 trek to San Lorenzo. Craig Bartlett returns to his creation in the first of a host of Nicktoon revivals planned for the next several years, including movie sequels for Rocko’s Modern Life and Invader Zim. If The Jungle Movie is any indication, the process of bringing the sensibilities of these 1990s and 2000s cartoons into the 2010s will be a smooth one. The Jungle Movie maintains Hey Arnold!’s warm tone and careful pacing, its willingness to let its young characters absorb dramatic moments and contemplate within silences. It’s not an aesthetic many kids may be accustomed to—today’s youth-oriented programming is geared more toward wackier, faster-paced TV animation—but newcomers familiar and comfortable with an energy that’s between Steven Universe and Gravity Falls will be satisfied. And the Hey Arnold! vets will feel right at home, noticing various deep-cut references to the show that rarely distract from the story being told.

The Jungle Movie’s strengths are in the quiet moments, the ones in which the camera lingers on characters at their most emotionally honest and vulnerable, or when it tracks across city landscapes populated with people engaged in their own lives. The film utilizes montages for concentrated community work or emotional poignancy: Arnold’s grandparents (Dan Castellaneta and Tress MacNeille) confronting their grandson’s desire to ditch the class trip and search for his parents, or the testing of the complex, tenuous relationships between Arnold (Mason Vale Cotton), his best friend Gerald (Benjamin Flores Jr.), and his schoolyard bully/secret admirer Helga G. Pataki (Francesca Marie Smith). Letting characters and moments breathe was always Hey Arnold!’s hidden forte, and the same is true of The Jungle Movie.

Bartlett and his team also recognize the power of small, mundane objects, their symbolism hitting with the proper significance. Necklaces, treasures, and ratty journals have their visceral power, but even a quick shot of a playground slide resonates in the moment. These are just one component of The Jungle Movie’s visual prowess; the muted orange/purple/red color palette of the show has been greatly expanded for the movie, with more vibrant colors used for a brighter look, both for the city and jungle environments. The character designs are perfectly suited for Hey Arnold’s updated, 2017 look; nothing feels out of place except for a final 3-D-rendered locale that fails to awe as intended. Jim Lang’s delightful, jazzy score returns, beautifully mingling with more tropical sounds once everyone arrives in San Lorenzo. The voices are pitch-perfect, too; 13 years haven’t diminished Francesca Marie Smith’s vocal prowess as Helga a single bit, and while Benjamin Flores Jr. sounds a bit off as Gerald, he still acclimates to the character in fine form.

A couple of coincidences and plot conveniences come off a bit too contrived, and at times, The Jungle Movie strains the logic and credibility of its own world. Every so often, it feels like Hey Arnold! is extending itself to the extreme, a flaw that also marred 2002’s Hey Arnold!: The Movie. The Jungle Movie tries to lampshade or wink toward those extremes; Gerald even mentions how the contest that takes the characters to San Lorenzo seems “designed for” Arnold. Plot twists and revelations soften some of the contrivances, but they still feel like high-octane incidents meant to justify the cinematic stakes encroaching on Hey Arnold’s understated, wistful norm. (As a warning, there are some gruesome, offscreen occurrences here and there.) But while the first movie got caught up in its energetic story, The Jungle Movie takes more care to pull back for those richly muted moments, filled with reflections, regrets, wonder, magic, and hope. There’s plenty of humor as well: Lovable lummox Harold is still as amusingly clueless as ever, and the way the movie deals with the antiquated Pataki family business—Big Bob’s Beepers—is bluntly, ridiculously hilarious.

Because more than any of that, this is the story of Arnold, voiced perfectly by Cotton, the last of Mad Men’s many Bobby Drapers. Arnold is the quietly grounded, positive kid who lives and breathes hope, who in his own way gave that hope to a city and its citizens. In his quest to find his parents, he is taken out of his urban comfort zone, a place in which he is well-known and trusted, and thrust into the unknown, where his faith, resolve, and friendships are challenged. Arnold has always been a kind of an outsider though, a loner whose drive has always been backed, however subtly, by the idea that his parents were out there, somewhere. Now he has the chance to find them, and Bartlett presents that search as the true, adventurous, heartfelt culmination that he, and Arnold, deserve after all these years.


From Den of Geek USA:

Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie: Evolution and What’s Next

The series creator and voice cast discuss how the new Hey Arnold! movie's story changed over the years and where the series could be headed.

Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie has been gestating in series creator Craig Bartlett’s head for over fifteen years. While the film was originally supposed to come out in the early 2000’s it was shelved, seemingly for good.

While fans bemoaned the film not seeing the light of day back then, the movie might be even better now that Bartlett has had so long to reflect on it.

“At the time, I kind of didn’t want to reveal everything," Bartlett says. "It was my first series and I was very tentative and didn’t want to blow it. I was unsure of myself.”

Now after years of writing and creating television series, Bartlett was finally given the chance to make The Jungle Movie happen and he’s going all in.

“I realized, oh, I have tremendous power and I can make this thing anything I want it to be. I just felt this amazing power to make a satisfying conclusion to Arnold’s quest to find out what happened to his missing parents."

Even with having to add light updates to fit modern times, Rhonda now has a Smartphone, the spirit of the Hey Arnold! is still very much one of aspirational nostalgia for Bartlett. It doesn’t matter what generation he’s making it for.

“It’s a cartoon and we get to make stuff up anyway," Bartlett says. "So why not make it completely aspirational? Instead of your childhood being just playing video games or being helicoptered from place to place by parents, how about they’re out in the middle of the night having crazy unsupervised fun? It’s not a documentary. You’re trying to make it, wouldn't it be fun if? For kids.”

Many of the kids who grew up with the series are now working in the animation industry and were brought aboard to work on the film.

“We brought in next generation people,” says Bartlett. “It made it kind of a more fun let’s pull everything together into this story.”

Along for the ride are some of the original Hey Arnold! voice cast reprising their iconic roles. For Anndi McAfee who plays Phoebe, her character’s friendship with Helga has carried right into The Jungle Movie.

“(Phoebe and Helga) always have this kind of understanding, especially since throughout the series Phoebe knows her biggest, darkest secret which is that she loves Arnold,” McAfee tells us.

Francesca Marie Smith, who plays Helga, says her outgoing character will rely on Phoebe in new ways during the film. Much like the film’s story, the characters have changed for the better with time.

“We need something to get done and we’ll be able to see this somewhat more assertive, somewhat more action-pose version of Phoebe.”

Bartlett adds, “it’s like there’s more unspoken confidence and trust between the two girls than ever. Their friendship’s in a good shape and Phoebe seems to be emerging as a more confident character.

The movie sets up all the characters to be heading into sixth grade, aging them a few years from the original series. Barlett is taking it one thing at a time but imagines the franchise could go on forever, possibly following the characters into adulthood.

McAfee believes Phoebe would strongly benefit from the recent boom in the tech scene.

“It’s perfect for her personality. She doesn’t have to be the leader. She’s a programmer. She’s a perfectionist and I can see her writing perfectionist type of code. She does have a little bit of wild streak when she is out of control so I can (also) see her doing really disruptive types of programming for new technologies.

Smith doesn’t want to take away from any possibilities fans have speculated on over the years but she sees Helga getting into activism.

“Maybe politics. Maybe something a little more social activism, justice, blogging. But she does also have that sort of creative potential. She’s got a world of possibilities.”

We can only hope Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie is a massive success so we can see if any of these predictions come true. Even if we don’t, this film will answer all the questions fans have been asking Bartlett over the years. This film is for them.

“It’s about the hopes and dreams of the fans who grew up on the show.”

Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie premieres Friday, Novemeber 24 at 7:00PM on Nickelodeon.


From 89.3 KPCC:

How kids of the '90s saved 'Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie'

The oldest millennials are in their 30s, but already they're starting to feel nostalgic for their youth. That's why Nickelodeon is bringing back 'Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie' 13 years after the animated show ended.

Craig Bartlett is the creator of 'Hey Arnold.' "He's this calm center around in which everything happens," Bartlett says, explaining his initial pitch to the studio."He always tries to help people, whether they deserved it or not."

Bartlett says there were campaigns on Facebook with tens of thousands of signatures asking Nickelodeon to save the show, which ended on a cliffhanger back in 2004. With so much demand building online, Nickelodeon decided to bring 'Hey Arnold!' back. There's a new actor playing Arnold, but fans will hear some familiar voices too.

Francesca Marie Smith was nine years old when she first played the part of Helga Pataki. She's the girl who seems to hate Arnold but is secretly in love with him.

Being a voice actor as a child inspired Smith to pursue a PhD in media theory at USC's Annenberg School. "The Jungle Movie' obviously was a direct response to and very much integrated into the fan community and the fan response," Smith says.

Justin Shenkarow also returns from the original. He plays Herald Bergman, a bully with a soft side. "In real life, I'm the opposite of a nerd. I was teased growing up for having a big fro, so I really channeled that energy into portraying a vulnerable, almost lovable bully," Shenkarow says.

Now Shenkarow is an established actor, with credits on franchise films like 'Avatar' and 'Ice Age.' He's also put a positive spin on his hair by naming his production company "Shake That Fro."

Even he feels nostalgic toward 'Hey Arnold!' "I think millennials really long for that incredible time period in their life. With all the instability in the world, economically and politically, it's a bit scary," Shenkarow says. "Hey Arnold!' really represents their youth, just the fact that we were in a much happier world at that point."

There's a lot at stake for fans, and some wonder if the new movie will live up to their old memories.

'Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie' premieres Friday, Nov. 24, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. (ET/PT) and is available for download on Saturday, Nov. 25.


From NY Daily News:

The cast of the wildly popular Nickelodeon show Hey Arnold! reunited at New York Comic Con in October.

Original cast members Lane Toren (Arnold), Olivia Hack (Rhonda), Anndi McAfee (Phoebe), Francesca Marie Smith (Helga) and show creator Craig Bartlett talked to the Daily News about some of their favorite moments from the original show.

The series, which ended in 2004, returns with Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie on Friday November 24th.

WATCH the [...] video [here] for the full story. [...]


From New York's PIX11 / WPIX-TV:

Cast of ‘Hey Arnold’ shares Thanksgiving plans

The “Hey Arnold” gang’s Thanksgiving plans come as no surprise.

The whole gang is back for “Hey Aronld!: The Jungle Movie.”

Their die-hard fans can’t wait to see it, and the same goes for the cast.

PIX11’s Ojinika Obiekwe found out the what, when and where they’ll be watching “The Jungle Movie” when it premieres tomorrow night at 7, on Nickelodeon, Teen Nick and Nick Toons.


Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie will premiere on Friday, Nov. 24, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon USA, as part of the networks Thanksgiving celebrations.

Viewers can visit the Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie page on and the Nick App, along with the Hey Arnold! Facebook page and Instagram, to get a look at the TV movie. Fans can also watch full-length episodes on and the Nick App.

NickSplat will celebrate Hey Arnold! throughout the month of November with fan-favorite episodes every night from 12:00 a.m.-1:00 a.m. (ET/PT). In addition, NickSplat will treat fans to a marathon of every single Hey Arnold! episode beginning Friday, Nov. 17, through Friday, Nov. 24, from 11:00 p.m.–6:00 a.m. (ET/PT). Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie encores Saturday, Nov. 25, and Friday, Dec. 1, at 12:00 a.m. (ET/PT) on TeenNick.

Originally published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017.

More Nick: Episode 50: Hey Arnold! Deep Dive | The Jungle Movie | Nickelodeon Animation Podcast!
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