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Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius

Animation voiced by Debi Derryberry; Martin Short, Patrick Stewart and Andrea Martin
Screenplay by John Davis and David N. Weiss & J. David Stem and Steve Oedekerk
Based on a story by John Davis and Steve Oedekerk
Directed by John Davis

IN SHORT: Take the kidlets and then let loose your inner child. [Rated G. 83 minutes]

It's not easy being a boy genius but that's what ten year old Jimmy Neutron (voiced by Debi Derryberry) is. Like any kidlet, there are times when he wishes that his parents would just disappear. But when aliens actually come and do the dirty deed, taking all the parents in the neighborhood, well, Jimmy is a flat out hero! When the kids realize that they actually miss their parents or, more specifically, don't know how to make dinner once they've plowed through all the candy -- Jimmy is in trouble. It's a good thing he's got that boy genius thing to lug around, and a working knowledge of rocket building to help redeem himself.

Thus begins the CG-animated Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, which a critic we know had already dismissed as "strictly for kids". We lugged our niece and nephew along with us, thinking we could at minimum add to our cache of "best uncle in the world" points and found ourselves laughing just as heartily as the kidlets in tow. That requires explanation . . .

We define four kinds of animated films. They may be strictly for adults or strictly for kids or mainly for kids with a joke or two for the grownups or vice versa. Thinking that JNBG was just kid stuff, we hoped for enough subtle grownup stuff to keep us interested. To our surprise, the film more than delivered enough guffaws to this over-the-hill kid that, at times, we were laughing harder than any preteen in the audience (and there were plenty of them). Seriously folks, any movie which can take the overhyped, underhorrifying Blair Witch Project and turn it into the joke that we always thought it was gets four stars in our book.

The catch remains: if we didn't have kids to lug along, the plain fact that Jimmy Neutron is a Nickelodeon Channel movie immediately places the film in the realm of kidlets first. Except for the fact that we've never outgrown 'toons, we would have passed on Jimmy Neutron. At least for a little while.

Jimmy Neutron is a kidlet whose imagination, and refusal to be bound by it, knows no bounds. (pun intended). He can turn a toaster into a communications satellite, broadcasting messages of friendship to alien beings wherever they are! He can transform a wad of bubble gum into a transportation device as fast as the school bus! He's got a ray gun which can shrink you to the size of a worm or zap you as big as a planet! He's even got a kid sidekick, as it were, Carl Wheezer (Rob Paulsen) and a robot dog named Goddard. Rounding out the neighborhood crew are Cindy Vortex (Carolyn Lawrence) who absolutely, positively doesn't like Jimmy -- and we all know what that means -- slick Nick (Candi Milo), the budding j.d. who will probably grow up to be Arthur Fonzarelli, and Sheen (Jeff Garcia), a rabid fan of cartoon superhero Ultra-Lord. When a brand new amusement park opens in Retroville and publicizes an in person appearance by Ultra-Lord (!) all the kidlets want to go. Problem is, the park opens on a school night and all the parental units, like Judy and Hugh Neutron (Megan Cavanagh and Mark DeCarlo), say "no". Urged on by Nick, the kids sneak out anyway and, while they're gone, the alien Yolkians take Jimmy's satellite up on its broadcast message to "come and visit". The Yolkians -- evolved from chicken eggs, neatly avoiding the question "which came first..." -- immediately recognize the parental units as the snack food that they are, and off they go. The kidlets, after looting the park, will tap Jimmy's mighty brain to help find and save the moms and dads, in time for dinner.

Patrick Stewart has maintained, in every interview we've done with him, that he's much sillier than any of the characters he's ever played. He proves it with his voice work as Yolkian King Goobot. Martin Short is the King's yes-yolk, Ooblar and Short's SCTV co-star Andrea Martin provides the voice of teacher Miss Fowl. The orchestral soundtrack is filled with harmonic references to Star Trek and Star Wars and similar flicks. There's a lovely nod to Dune towards the end and the song soundtrack includes "Blitzkrieg Bop" by The Ramones, which seems to be showing up in all the kid/teen-targeted movies we've been sitting through. Fine by us.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, he would have paid . . .


Given the release schedule this particular week, Jimmy Neutron sits as the family film of the week for those with kidlets not ready for the swordplay and violent fantasy in The Lord of the Rings. You know your crew better than we do. Choose accordingly.

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