For many kids of the ‘90s, the best toons were Nicktoons. Rugrats, Doug (before Disney took it down way too many pegs), Aaahh!! Real Monsters, CatDog. While all of these were great and complemented Nickelodeon’s even superior live action series at the time, there was no greater animated series that touched closer to home for some than Hey Arnold!
The series ran for 5 seasons in the late ‘90s, following a strange football-shape-headed boy who lived with his grandparents in a boarding house in an urban neighborhood of Washington. Arnold’s grandmother lives with dementia, Helga, his bully, has a business-focused father and alcoholic mother, his best friend Gerald is more realistic in terms of morality. Ensembled with the boarding home and town’s multiple strange residents (Mr Kokoshka, Mr. Potts, Eugene, Stoop kid, etc.), the series has something for audiences of any age to ponder and relate.
When the series ended in the early 2000s, it concluded without resolution. Arnold had lived with his grandparents for years and very little information was known about his parents. Why did they leave? Where did they go? As viewers we saw that Arnold remembered them, as shown by his miniscule hat they purchased for him as a toddler. Yet neither he nor his grandparents talk like they are dead.
So what happened to the mysterious parents? Nickelodeon decided to finally answer this question, not only with a new episode over 10 years after the series ended, but also with Hey Arnold: The Jungle Movie. When Arnold finally gives up on waiting for his parents to return, he discovers his father’s journal of their adventures in the jungle. He learns more about their research and work with tribes in need of medical assistance. After giving birth to Arnold however, they decide it’s time leave their jungle research and return to the city. That is, until the tribe they were working with suddenly falls ill and need the Shortmans’ assistance (yes, this is actually Arnold’s last name). This is the last time Arnold sees his parents.
After reading the journal, Arnold’s class is invited to take a trip to the same city he read about in his father’s journal. This is his chance to learn what happened to them after the last page.
The Jungle Movie is an adventure every bit as fun and exciting as the series, and helps fill in the biggest mystery of the entire show while putting a conclusion to the many driving forces of the plot we knew for years (e.g., Helga’s psychotic, loving behavior). If you were a fan of the show as a kid, or discovered it recently in reruns, this movie is a must-watch. The Jungle Movie is available on demand on Nickelodeon.