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2001 Paramount/Nickelodeon Pictures
"I can fix that..."

"He's got to save the world and get to school on time.
So many things to do and not much time..."

Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
Paramount/Nickelodeon Pictures, 2001
Running Time: 83 minutes. Rated: G.
Review by Amy Harlib

Directed by: John A. Davis (I)
Writing credits: John A. Davis (I) (story) Steve Oedekerk (story)

Cast: Megan Cavanagh .... Mrs.Neutron/VOX  / Debi Derryberry .... Jimmy Neutron / Martin Short .... Ooblar /  Patrick Stewart .... King Goobot  / Rob Paulsen .... Carl Wheezer  / Andrea Martin (I) .... Mrs. Fowl / Carolyn Lawrence .... Cindy Vortex / Candi Milo .... Nick Dean /  Mark DeCarlo .... Hugh Neutron / Crystal Scales .... Libby /  Frank Welker .... Goddard

IMDB Website: Jimmy Neutron
Official Website: Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius

Partners with big ideas from a small CGI animation company, creator/helmer John A. Davis and writer Steve Oedekerk convinced the "suits" at Nickolodeon to produce their concept for a new style of computer animation and the result is a sci-fi comedy adventure for big and small kids of all ages.

Already familiar as a series to Nickelodeon watchers,  Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius employs a unique style of CGI animation perfectly suited for the limitations and strengths of the medium: highly stylized, intentionally artificial-looking human characters with exaggerated, huge heads surrounded by brightly colored yet dense, intricate backgrounds.

Their milieu (with the tongue-in-cheek name of Retroville), mildly satirizes 1950's idealized suburbia by mixing period and contemporary objects and design elements. By making no attempt to mimic consensus reality, Jimmy Neutron's world takes on a life of its own, the characters having just enough depth to arouse sympathy even while their antics and sight gags come thick and fast throughout.

The precociously brilliant Jimmy (Isaac) Neutron (voiced by Debi Derryberry), his self-built, gizmo-laden, robot-dog Goddard and his Ozzie and Harriet-derived type parents (Megan Cavanagh and Mark deCarlo), live in suburban Retroville where the youngster attends grade school.

Jimmy manages to have plenty of spare time to spend in his secret, ultra high-tech basement laboratory inventing useful gadgets: shrink rays, portable jet-packs and a toaster-based communications satellite designed to contact alien life forms.

This last project proves to be a bit too successful, as it attracts the attention of the Yokians, an extra-terrestrial race of slimy green creatures housed in egg-shaped, highly functional containers.

These beings, ruled by despotic King Goobot (Patrick Stewart) and his chief henchman Ooblar (Martin Short), in their fleet of chicken-shaped starships, search for suitable life-forms to study and destroy and find their ideal specimens in the adult population of Retroville.

The grown-ups get abducted in a delightful parody of 1950s flying saucer films---levitating up (interrupted in the midst of all sorts of comically G-rated compromising activities) in beams of white light accompanied by eerie Theremin-synthesizer music of course!

Free from parental supervision, Jimmy goes on an all-night junk-food frenzy along with his pals, an engaging assortment of schoolyard archetypes: lovable, tubby, asthmatic, glasses-wearing best-friend Carl (Rob Paulsen); Sheen (Jeff Garcia), geekily obsessed with a cartoon and video-game action hero named Ultra-Lord; secret heart-throb and 2nd smartest kid in class Cindy (Carolyn Lawrence); and Nick, the lollipop-sucking, prematurely side-burned bad-boy in denims with matching jacket.

The inevitable sugar blues consequences and lack of older loved-ones quickly palls and equally swiftly, our guy Jimmy and his gizmos detect the trail of the adult-knapping culprits.

Cleverly transforming Retroland Amusement Park rides into space ships, Jimmy and his friends and school-mates soar into the heavens in scenes of surreal visual beauty and execrable science, unless the creators of this CGI cartoon universe really intended to feature fully breathable atmosphere and comfortable pressure and temperatures in every bit of the vast regions of the void between solar systems.

Nit-picking aside, the hapless grown-ups (in the thrall of mind-control devices), become the entertainment in a coliseum-like arena where they will be sacrificed to Poltra, the Yokians gigantic, Godzilla-sized, unearthly-looking poultry God.

The youthful, heroic rescuers endure near-disasters attempting to free their Moms and Dads and also engage in an exciting space skirmish when their squadron engages King Goobot's foul fleet of fowl-shaped spacecraft.

Brimming with energy, zest, dazzling visuals and lots of puns, genuine wit and laughs amidst the goofy silliness, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, never meant to be taken seriously for a second, still contains enough sentimentality, feeling and common sense wisdom to emotionally satisfy without sermonizing.

The design concepts for the characters and their environment work perfectly to portray the zany, over-the-top, sci-fictional happenings intersecting with the idealized, mundane and refreshingly multi-racial community of Retroville.

The chicken-and-egg-themed Yokians and their homeworld manage to be visually gorgeous and funny simultaneously while robot-dog Goddard and his array of ready-for-anything, built-in, gimmicky devices artfully amazes and amuses especially when combined with believably canine behavior.

John Debney's music, ranging from dramatic to peppy, rock-beat pop tunes to parodies of genre soundtracks, works perfectly.

This movie offers nearly non-stop colorful action to keep the young folks happy, and plenty of yokks along with the yolks to please the adults, the most savvy of whom should be on the look out for a truly delightful Dune parody in the very last scene, alone nearly worth the price of admission!     

2002 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu                                                                              sa 01.18.02