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Toon Talk: From the Other Side - Hey Arnold & The Powerpuff Girls
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Toon Talk, From the Other Side
Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt
Hey Arnold- The Movie
The PowerPuff Girls Movie
Made for Television
At a recent screening I attended for the live action Scooby-Doo movie (or, as a friend calls it, Scooby-Don't!), there was the prerequisite twenty minutes of trailers beforehand. Nothing unusual about that, but what I found curious was that almost all of the movies being previewed were for the big screen versions of basic cable television series. (And the fact that these were being shown prior to yet another movie based on a popular television series, now achieving resurgence popularity due to the Cartoon Network, did not escape my notice either.)
Yes, coming soon to a theater near you, the silver screen escapades of such pay TV characters as the Cartoon Network's The Powerpuff Girls, Nickelodeon's Hey Arnold and The Wild Thornberrys and ... "Crikey!" ... even the Crocodile Hunter! (One wonders where this trend will take us ... Bam! The Emeril Movie? Home Shopping Network: The Motion Picture? Interior Motives: The Wrath of Christopher Lowell???)
It is not new for movie versions of television series to come out while the show is still running (The X-Files and South Park being recent examples), but it is still a risky move: why pay for a movie when you can see it at home for free? What is required is a 'very special episode'-type of story that warrants a trip off the couch and into the multiplex. And the bigger budgets afforded to features doesn't hurt either, giving the creators a chance to stretch their visions beyond the typical 22-minute episode. Just make sure that you have enough to say to fill out the ninety-minute or so running time.
Thus are the pitfalls of transferring a popular franchise from the small- to big-screen, and the first two examples mentioned above are prime examples of how to do it right ... and how not to. While one soars into a whole new medium, the other should have remained in the 'idiot box'.
First the bad news: Certainly not at the level of his Nickelodeon channel-mates the Rugrats, Hey Arnold apparently has enough of a fan base to make an attempt at the big leagues. But why this personality-less, unfunny character with an oddly shaped head was given the star treatment is beyond me.
Reportedly the final three episodes of the series redone into feature-length, the theatrical release of which smacks of blatant cashing-in on the Nickelodeon Movies name enriched by the Rugrats films, Hey Arnold - The Movie hinges on a predictable David vs. Goliath scenario, with Arnold (voice of Spencer Klein) taking on the big corporate baddy Scheck (Paul Sorvino), who's planning on leveling the old neighborhood in order to make way for his high tech shopping center.
Nothing new there, and not a lot is done with it to make it interesting or even remotely amusing. Obvious riffs on such 'adult' fare as Mission: Impossible, Speed and even The Shawshank Redemption are in place for the parents in the audience, but by the time the by-now tired Men in Black homage is trotted out for the umpteenth time, one will be reaching for the non-existent remote.