Monday, September 7, 2015

Nick Nostalgia Train: That Rumored Nicktoons Movie...

I'm sure you've heard about it...

It's all over the Internet. Major film reporting sites have picked up the story, it's spreading like wildfire all over social media.

Apparently Paramount wants a live-action/animation hybrid that will not only bring back the characters from the 1990s Nickelodeon animated shows that everyone in my age group can't stop reminiscing about, but will cross them all over! The best (or worst, depending on who you are) part is, Viacom owns Paramount, Viacom owns all the classic Nick shows, so no rights issues!

So... Who got the story first? A site called Tracking Board, whose reputation isn't the best. They are noted, especially by the big film sites reporting this story, for the amount of false rumors they throw out there. A hit-and-miss site as people are saying, though sometimes they're right.

Since that's a fact, I'm going to take this story with massive piles of salt.

Even historian Jerry Beck, who is close with Nickelodeon, said on the Cartoon Research Facebook group that it isn't happening as far as he knows...

That all being said, if it were real, I can't really see it working. Why's that?

Almost all of the shows Nickelodeon made from 1991 to 1999 are all different and unique to each other. Unlike Cartoon Network's 90s line-up, most of which was done by Hanna-Barbera and Cartoon Network's own production house, Nick's shows were made by different studios: Spumco (Ren & Stimpy), Klasky-Csupo (Rugrats, Ahhh! Real Monsters, Wild Thornberrys), Joe Murray Productions (Rocko's Modern Life), Jumbo Pictures (Doug), Snee-Oosh (Hey Arnold!), Flying Mallet (KaBlam!), Peter Hannan Productions (CatDog), and so on.

All of them had their own styles and what not. Rugrats and its "what do babies do when adults aren't around" episodes certainly wasn't the out-there, comedic madness of Ren & Stimpy, while both weren't like Hey Arnold! and its big city life story, which often had some rather surprisingly emotional episodes and an overarching storyline involving the titular character's parents. You had your all-out comedies like KaBlam!, and your more relatable shows like Doug. So I can't really see them all interacting, but then again Nick did do a Rugrats/Wild Thornberrys crossover movie in 2003 called Rugrats Go Wild... Though to be fair, Klasky-Csupo made both of those shows.

Visually, outside of the three Klasky-Csupo shows, they were all different.

So, plot-wise, how would a crossover of all of these completely different shows even work? What would they have to do? What's at stake? They obviously won't take on a bad guy, that would be stupid if you ask me. Maybe it could be a very meta comedy that pokes fun at 90s nostalgia and what Nick is up to now, I don't know. Maybe it could be an anthology film that details what happened after the cancellation, or something like "where are they now?" Could it go the Roger Rabbit route? After all, it's said to be a hybrid feature, so I guess the Nick characters will be in-movie cartoon characters who star in the shows for a living, much like Roger and everyone else. What could it possibly be about?

If one indeed is on the docket, would I be excited? I would be on the fence. The 90s Nick shows have certainly really stayed with my age group, and while I have fond memories of watching those shows like everyone else who does, quality is my main concern. When rewatching these shows a few years back, some of them I found to be of pretty good quality, writing-wise, such as Doug and Hey Arnold!, and who doesn't like the John K seasons of Ren & Stimpy? The others I think are decent for what they are, some are a lot of fun and are entertaining, but nothing way too notable if you ask me.

What matters is that they were all decent-to-good quality shows that kids could enjoy, and the parents didn't have to cringe when watching them with their children. I would probably see this movie just out of curiosity, but if anything, I would prefer new episodes of these shows that keep the spirits of their originals. More than any of these shows, Hey Arnold! needs closure. They had a whole story going there, and the original intention - as many a Nick and/or animation fan would know - was to end the series with a movie where Arnold and his class go on a field trip to a jungle in South America, which ends with Arnold finally reuniting with his long-lost parents.

Creator Craig Bartlett had wanted this to be the first and only movie, but Nickelodeon took the planned hour-long TV special Arnold Saves the Neighborhood and turned that into a theatrical film instead. The result, Hey Arnold: The Movie, was a box office flop when released in 2002. After that, Nick slowly gave up on theatrical animated films based on their shows, the streak of films culminated with The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie in fall 2004.

Around that time, Barlett was at work on a new, Wild West-flavored series for Cartoon Network called Party Wagon. Nick wanted him to sign an exclusivity contract, but he said no, thus Hey Arnold! would not continue, its last episodes airing out of order from 2003-2004. The "jungle movie" was no more. Oh, and Cartoon Network stuck the Party Wagon pilot in a death slot and no one got to see it, thus that didn't take off either.

I'm guessing that the success of Sponge out of Water (to the shock of no one, a third movie is being planned right now) and the fact that 90s nostalgia is in full swing right now has made Viacom/Paramount see potential in these older shows. For a while we've heard about plans to reboot some of the shows, such as Rugrats and Hey Arnold!, but this crossover movie is quite a rumor. Whatever they end up doing, hopefully Hey Arnold! gets its "jungle movie", some shows return with a bang, and everyone goes home happy.

What's your take on this rumor? How would you like to see the 90s Nick shows come back? Do you think the Hey Arnold! "jungle movie" will ever happen? Sound off below!


  1. Much as I love the idea of Nickelodeon bringing back their classics, I think this is a supremely bad decision, if it's real in the first place. Why?
    Lack of familiarity. This movie, being a Nickelodeon movie, is obviously going to be marketed towards kids. But today's kids aren't the kids of the 1990s. They watch different TV shows, and probably--especially if they were born after, say, 2005-- might not know much about Rugrats or Hey Arnold.
    A much more sensible way to profit off the renewed interest in these shows would be to launch a spinoff network dedicated to them, a Nickelodeon equivalent of Boomerang, if you would.
    But hey, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe kids today DO recognize these shows. Maybe nickelodeon WILL market this movie to more than just children. And maybe scallops will fly out of my pants.

    1. And just like that, Nick has announced a Boomerang-esque channel for their 90s shows:

    2. I wonder how this will go. Given Nickelodeon's recent track record (Legend of Korra notwithstanding) the best I can say is that I'm cautiously hopeful.

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