Hey Arnold! The Movie

hey arnold the movie

Hey Arnold! The Movie
Rating: PG
Run Time: 75 Minutes
Released: 2002
Directed by: Tuck Tucker

Cultural Rating: pawpaw

Overall, this film engages with race as one of the film’s lead characters is of color. Also, many different body types are present throughout the film.


When a giant corporation threatens Arnold’s neighborhood, he and his best friend embark on a mission to save the town.


Language: poo

  • Threatening and demeaning language- “football head,” “moron,” “losers,” “egghead,” “idiots”

Violence: poo

  • Punching
  • Choking
  • Fighting
  • Slapping
  • Slapstick fighting

Sex: poo

  • Kissing
  • Minor sexual innuendo

Drugs and Alcoholpoo

  • Nick has a drink at a bar

Cultural Analysis




  • Arnold’s best friend, Gerald, is black and one of the main characters.
  • The town is somewhat racially and ethnically diverse.

Sexual Orientation: N/A


  • The bus driver has a prosthetic leg. At the end of the film, the bus driver’s significant other says to him, “I love you just the way you are.”


  • Different body types are represented throughout the movie. For example, Stinky is tall and thin while Harold is fat-bodied.
  • No bodies are overly sexualized.



  • Bridget is valued for her looks before her skills as a spy. For example, Gerald receives a kiss on the cheek from Bridget then, overcome with infatuation, he passes out.
  • Helga is depicted as grotesque, mean and obsessed with Arnold. She doesn’t want to save the town because it’s the right thing to do, but because Arnold, the boy she likes, wants to save the town.


  • Sometimes races or ethnicities are depicted stereotypically. For example, the presumably Asian character has a thick accent. Also, Stinky, who is depicted as lower-class, has a twangy voice.

Sexual Orientation:


  • The bus driver’s girlfriend broke up with him because he “wasn’t a whole man” due to his disability (he uses a prosthetic leg). Also, at one point, his disability complicates a situation.
  • Arnold’s grandma is depicted as senile. Her disability is used as comedic relief and she does not contribute to the plotline. Also, Monkeyman, who is depicted as having a disability, is also used as comedic relief.
  • Brainy appears to have asthma and is depicted as creepy because of the way that he breathes. Helga also bullies him, which perpetuates the idea that it is permissible to bully kids with disabilities.


  • Many of the characters do not adhere to ideal body types; however, some of the characters who have aberrant bodies are depicted as immoral in some way. For example, Harold has a fat-body and is depicted as sloppy (his stomach protrudes out of his shirt and his mouth is sometimes covered with food). Also, Helga has a unibrow and is depicted as mean. Further, the fat-bodied police officer only agrees to save the town in order to save a doughnut shop.

Suggested talking points

  • A common theme in films is that a hero is male, muscular, and usually stereotypically attractive. It is important to discuss with your children that heroes come in all shapes, sizes, races/ethnicities, and genders.
  • At one point Helga forces a kiss on Arnold and it is depicted as funny. It is important that children understand how to appropriately express emotions. Just because a girl might like a boy doesn’t give her the right to kiss him without his consent. This idea applies to people of all gender identities.
  • In the film, Future Tech Industries is willing to do anything to make more money. This is a common theme associated with capitalism.

Image: Wikimedia.org

Keywords: hey arnold, movie, animated, nickelodeon, family, kids, body, two paws, 2 paws

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