Listen up, all you football heads: The new “Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie” trailer is here, and it looks like it’s about to clear up some phallacies.
“Hey Arnold!” creator Craig Bartlett told HuffPost that in the 15 years since the last movie, he’s seen various fan comments online that ended up informing the direction of his new film. Those comments helped him understand which questions needed answering, and what kinds of changes he should make.
“I said, ’Look we know we’re going to have to redesign everything from the ground up ― the characters, the backgrounds,” he explained in an interview on Tuesday. ”‘Let’s make it so that a couple years have gone by ― a year or two, say ― so you can accept that the kids are a little older, they’ve gotten a little taller.’”
One character in particular, Grandpa Phil, underwent a redesign inspired by fan comments. You see, in the years since “Hey Arnold!” went off the air, some dedicated viewers spread images online noting Phil’s, erm, interestingly shaped head.
“Once that image went out online, it’s like you can’t unsee it, right?” Bartlett said. “That’s my biggest beef about that. It’s like, ‘Oh, man, now that they’ve done that people are going to have a hard time looking at Grandpa without seeing that.’”
The “Hey Arnold!” creator confirmed to HuffPost that the new film addresses the issue.
“I think if you look at the new model of Grandpa,” he said, “the design was always that he was just really lumpy. He had that kind of lump on top of his head, and he kind of had big ears that stuck out and big jutting cheek bones, and the big cleft in his chin. So I think when we redesigned him we made the lump on top of his head look a little bit less that way.”
Behold, the new Grandpa Phil:
Also, you can forget about the days of thinking Arnold’s shirt tails were actually a kilt.
“That was kind of a gag between me and the designers,” Bartlett said of Arnold’s look. “Hey, maybe he’s still kind of wearing the same shirt, but he’s a little taller [in the new movie] and so now you can see more of his pants, so it’s not as kilt-like.”
The new Arnold:
Bartlett promises that all your lingering “Hey Arnold!” questions will be answered in the movie, but why wait? We wanted some answers now.
A lot of the original “Hey Arnold!” fans are adults now. I’m one of them. Is this new movie geared toward adults or kids?
I didn’t see this coming. Here we are, 15 years after the run, rebooting it. So we’re in an interesting situation. We’ve got Nickelodeon. They’re the company we’re making it for and that we made it for in the first place, which really is aimed at kids 6 to 11 [...] The first 20 minutes of “The Jungle Movie” are really about laying that pipeline. “Hey, in case you’ve never seen it before, here they are. Here are the relationships. Helga seems to hate him but secretly loves him. Gerald is his super loyal best friend, etc.”
And, as you know, a huge part of the audience that’s gonna watch are like you. They grew up with the show and now they’re adults. I even think there’s a third audience, the children of adults, and they’re like, “Hey, you gotta watch this ‘Hey Arnold!’ show. This was my favorite when I was growing up.” So that’s really like three groups of people watching this show. I will say this movie very much has everything for these grownup super fans, because it checks every box. It covers all this. It’s about answering all the questions.
As far as the questions, does Arnold have a bald spot under his hat, or is that him parting his hair?
He does remove the hat. It was funny. The first time he took his hat off was in Episode 3, “Arnold’s Hat,” and it was really funny when he took it off. Man, there was a big empty spot where the hat goes, and it plays like a bald spot. When he takes the hat off in the “Jungle Movie,” it’s not quite shown in that way. It’s like we kind of have him at a little bit more flattering angle, but that’s kind of a running joke that there’s a bald spot where the hat goes.
Oh, yeah, it’s all about the angles.
[Laughs] Yeah, totally. That’s what’s fun about cartoon making. It’s how you choose to show something. You could show it or not.
Something else we want to know you’re going to show (and I saw this teased a bit) ― but Pigeon Man is definitely in the "Jungle" movie?
Yeah. As you may know, there was an internet rumor that he jumps off the building to commit suicide, and that was the most annoying internet rumor of all to me. Because, first of all, we would never. That is not the show at all. We would never have a story like that. What makes those rumors go is the idea that we wanted to do something dark and the network wouldn’t let us. That stuff really makes me mad, because my relationship with Nickelodeon is way better than that. We wouldn’t come up with that for a kids’ show. That’s a crazy idea. I think people enjoy the idea of, oh, it’s forbidden, and we had to change it. I was there. We made the story that he hooks up the pigeons to his little harness thing and flies off. I always intended him to go to Paris.
He’s basically living in Notre Dame taking care of pigeons in Paris. I was so annoyed about that rumor that I specifically put him in “The Jungle Movie” to know that he’s alive and well and in Paris.
The movie kind of has that quality, anyway. It sort of checks off all the boxes, and there are cameos by kind of everyone in that one specific scene. Basically, in the story they put together a video to win the contest to go to San Lorenzo, and so they basically go out and interview everyone that Arnold’s ever helped, which is very meta.
What? That’s cool to bring everyone back.
Yeah and very satisfying for the audience, too, because you kind of get to check in with everybody.
“Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie” airs Friday, Nov. 24, at 7 p.m. ET on Nickelodeon.