Few things take you back like the pop culture gems of your childhood. Whether it's a throwback song you used to listen to incessantly or a TV show you used to watch religiously, these cultural timestamps come to shape some of our earliest, fondest memories. For those who grew up in the '90s and early 2000s, Nickelodeon (in its pre-"Nick" days) held a special place in our hearts. The cool-kid channel of its competitor set, Nickelodeon always promised laughs, some wholesome rebellion, and plenty of green slime.
Nickelodeon Movies was founded in 1995, and a year later, we had Harriet the Spy as its inaugural release, swiftly followed by a series of feel-good films guaranteed to transport you right back to your younger years. If you're feeling like indulging in a healthy dose of nostalgia over the weekend, queue up a Nickelodeon movie (or two, or three), and head right back to the early aughts.
Here are our picks for the best Nickelodeon movies of all time.
Harriet the Spy (1996)
Young Michelle Trachtenberg plays precocious Harriet M. Welsh, an 11-year-old spy, in a movie based on Louise Fitzhugh's 1964 novel of the same name. In theaters, the pilot episode for another Nickelodeon favorite, Hey Arnold!, played before the film.
Good Burger (1997)
A year after its first film, Harriet the Spy, the studio released Good Burger, a comedy starring Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell. The movie was based on the Good Burger sketch from Nickelodeon's sketch comedy series All That, of which the duo were two of the original cast members. Thompson and Mitchell also starred in their own show, Kenan & Kel.
Hey Arnold!: The Movie (2002)
Arnold's neighborhood is going to be bulldozed and turned into a shopping mall in Hey Arnold!: The Movie. Arnold, Gerald, and Helga must save the neighborhood in the film, which is based on the TV show. Anyone remember the theme song?
The Rugrats Movie (1998)
The Rugrats Movie was the first animated release from Nickelodeon Movies and first to be based on a Nicktoon. The film featured the voices of guest stars Whoopi Goldberg, Margaret Cho, and Busta Rhymes and grossed $140 million in the U.S., making it the highest-grossing animated film based on a television program and first non-Disney animated film to gross over $100 million.
The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002)
Eliza Thornberry must rescue a cheetah cub from poachers in The Wild Thornberrys Movie. This film based on the show was even nominated for a Best Original Song Academy Award for the song "Father and Daughter" by Paul Simon.
Snow Day (2000)
Snow Day stars Chevy Chase, Josh Peck, Chris Elliott, and Emmanuelle Chriqui. It was originally planned to be based on the Nickelodeon television series The Adventures of Pete & Pete, but in the end, it was rewritten and produced as a stand-alone story.
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004)
The evil plankton wants to steal Mr. Krabs' krabby patty formula and take over the world by framing him for a crime. Naturally, SpongeBob and Patrick must save the day in The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. This film was meant to be a series finale for the TV show, but as we all know, it's still going strong today.
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
Nickelodeon branched out with the film adaptation of Lemony Snicket's first three books in his Series of Unfortunate Events. The movie shares the story of the orphaned Baudelaire children who are left in the care of their relative Count Olaf—a man with bad intentions. This flick even won an Academy Award for Best Makeup.
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001)
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius was Nickelodeon Movies' first CGI animated film. It was based on a series of shorts that aired on Nickelodeon in 1998, and after the success of the movie, the channel released a television series, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, that aired from 2002 to 2006. The film was nominated for the first Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, but it ultimately lost to Shrek.