While lacking the depth and scope of 2001's best animated features,
"Shrek" and "Monsters, Inc.," "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" is a mostly
fun way to spend 77 minutes and, with its lovely candy-colored visuals,
it looks good too. Based on the character from the Nickelodeon series,
there are enough pop cultural references to please adults as the kids
get involved in the cute characters and their adventures.
Set in the peaceful town of Retroville, Jimmy Neutron (voiced by Debi
Derryberry) is the smartest kid in his school, a rambunctious tyke
always working on his latest amazing invention and running around
with friends Carl (Rob Paulsen) and Sheen (Jeff Garcia). When Jimmy
returns home late one school night after sneaking out to go to the
grand opening of the town amusement park Retroland, he finds a note
on the refrigerator from his loving parents (Megan Cavanagh, Mark
DeCarlo) saying that they have gone to Florida. When it becomes apparent
that all of the adults in the town are mysteriously missing, Jimmy
and his schoolmates--including the snooty Cindy (Carolyn Lawrence)
and prepubescent stud Nick (Candi Milo)--join together to save their
parents, who have been kidnapped by intergalactic aliens.
Running at a zippy pace and stacked to the nines with '80s cover pop
songs (from the likes of Britney Spears and Aaron Carter), "Jimmy
Neutron: Boy Genius" is a joyful family film that goes down with relative
ease. The writing (by director John A. Davis and co-screenwriters
David N. Weiss, J. David Stem, and Steve Oedekerk) is surprisingly
clever, such as Jimmy's reasoning for why he thinks his mom didn't
write the note on the fridge: "The serifs and kerning are all wrong."
There are also a number of creative ideas on hand, from Jimmy's robotic
dog pooping out nothing but nuts and bolts, to the alien spacecraft
being in the shape of chickens (whom they worship and plan to sacrifice
the parents to). The most showstopping moments, however, comes when
the kids create spaceships out of the rides at the local theme park.
The sight of an octopus ride, a rollercoaster, and a ferris wheel
flying gracefully through space is not only beautiful to behold, but downright incendiary.
"Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" slows down as it starts its homestretch,
running out of steam before its already-slim 77 minutes are over.
It also can't hold a candle to the superior, more original animated
pictures of late. Still, the film is good-natured and has more than
a few choice moments to warrant a recommendation for both children
and grown-ups alike. If a sequel were made (as I predict there will
be), it wouldn't be such a horrid idea. After all, there is more promise
held in five minutes of "Jimmy Neutron" than in the whole of "The Rugrats Movie."
Copyright © 2001 Dustin Putman