Paramount // 2004 // 104 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Packard (Retired) // November 26th, 2004
"Keeping a space creature as a pet is a violation of scientific protocol!" -- Jimmy Neutron
Pint-sized brainiac Jimmy Neutron and his classmates are back in The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron -- Attack of the Twonkies, a tale about nauseatingly cute creatures from a passing comet who soon wreak havoc in Retroville. Unfortunately, Jimmy's had better adventures: With a plot that largely rips off another film, less humor than an episode half its length, a weak ending, and mostly void of the fun that's typical of the regular episodes, this "double-length feature" (it clocks in at well under an hour) comes up short. Thankfully, any one of the three regular-length bonus episodes included on the disc is more enjoyable than the titular episode.
For the uninitiated, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron -- Attack of the Twonkies is based on the Nickelodeon animated series The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Featuring computer-generated imagery that's impressive for a television series, each episode usually revolves around the insanely intelligent James Isaac Neutron and the trouble that his actions and inventions (most of which would make Einstein weep with appreciation) bring to his home town of Retroville. Aside from his clueless mom and dad and his loveable robotic dog, Goddard, Jimmy's exploits often involve his friends and classmates: Carl is a rotund, bespectacled asthmatic who usually serves as fodder for Jimmy's experiments; quasi-psychotic Sheen is obsessed with all things regarding his favorite super hero, Ultra Lord; and Cindy Vortex is the smart blonde tired of playing second fiddle to Jimmy's noggin, although several episodes have hinted at the crush she has for Neutron.
In this adventure, Jimmy and Goddard fire up his Strato XL rocket to rendezvous with Twonkus-3, a passing comet. Back on Earth, they find a small creature in the sand sample taken from the comet. Carl adopts the creature he dubs "Twonky," which seems harmless enough with its large, adorable eyes and batting eyelashes. But soon the thing is violently coughing up babies (how it got preggers in the first place, we're not told), and with enough Twonkies for everyone, Carl's classmates become proud parents to the bald, Furby-ish aliens.
Of course, with the word "Attack" in the title, we expect something to be amiss with the Twonkies. It's not long before the cuddly critters mutate into vicious, toothy bastards, sending the residents of Retroville scurrying for their animated lives. As usual, it's up to Jimmy to figure out how to stop the rampaging Twonkies and save the citizens of Retroville from their wrath.
While the court will focus primarily on the double-length Twonkies episode, evidence presented by the bonus episodes will be weighed as well. That said, let's get right to the feature presentation.
* "Attack of the Twonkies"
If you think this sounds eerily close to the plot for 1984's Gremlins, you're right. It's no secret that the series occasionally makes references to pop culture or other films or television series (in the bonus episode "A Beautiful Mine," Jimmy fools his parents into thinking he's going to camp by creating a holographic bus that looks like the one tooled around in by The Partridge Family.) Unfortunately, so much of Gremlins is used for the basis of this episode that it comes off as more of a blatant rip-off than any kind of homage to Joe Dante's film. Consider the following:
A well-meaning young man adopts an impossibly cute creature. The creature multiplies by popping out offspring like a lotto machine gone haywire. A normally-mundane event triggers the critters to morph into clawing, snarling beasties with an appetite for mayhem (even an escape to the movies isn't safe when the damn things invade a cinema!) Soon, the entire town is overrun with the little monsters.
Guess which movie is described in the above paragraph? I'll give you two guesses, and they're both right.
It's not enough that the plot was heavily cribbed: The mutated, evil Twonkies bear physical similarities to the titular gremlins of the other film. Oh, sure, they're not exactly spitting images, but the claws, greenish skin, and mouthful of teeth made me wonder why the animators couldn't come up with something a little more original.
Aside from my Gremlins gripes, I didn't find the episode to be particularly exciting or funny. Few jokes stick, and the ones that do are best appreciated by adults (Ms. Fowl's flash cards show the letter "A" for "ant" and the letter "B" for "botulism," complete with a picture of a gentleman spewing green vomit.) Even Jimmy's solution at ridding Retroville of the Twonkies is ho-hum, lacking some of the quirkiness and ingenuity that he usually comes up with in fixing the messes into which he gets himself. There's a slight twist near the end relating to an encounter that Jimmy and Goddard had when they first visited the comet, but by that point, I found myself wishing I was watching the far superior Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius flick instead of this uninspired fluff. The ending is literally questioned, and while the opportunity for a sequel is left wide-open, I hope this episode is the last we'll see of Retroville's adventures with the Twonkies. Heaven forbid we have to sit through Twonkies 2: The New Batch.
The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius has always been for an
older audience, and parents should note that there are several scary moments in
"Attack of the Twonkies" that young kids will probably find too
intense. One scene in particular shows a sweet acorn-hoarding squirrel
surrounded by approaching, ravenous Twonkies; seconds later, the scene cuts away
to nearby grass, where the acorn rolls into view sans squirrel. Also, a giant
monstrosity of a Twonky makes a couple of frightening appearances that little
ones won't be keen to watch. Don't be fooled by pictures of the adorable
pre-Satanic Twonkies; leave this one strictly to the older kids.
Since I'm focusing on the negatives here, I must mention the Special Features menu option. You get two choices: Previews (it's the same stuff you're forced to chapter-skip through when you first fire up the disc) and Main Menu. I'll leave it up to you decide which of those options, if any, is truly "special."
Don't go thinking that The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron -- Attack of the Twonkies is total dreck. A few rebuttal witnesses will do their best to make the case for this disc warranting a purchase.
I'm putting the three bonus episodes in this section for good reason: these episodes have the humor, adventure, and overall fun factor that seems to be lacking from "Attack of the Twonkies." Watching them, I was reminded why I enjoy watching this series in the first place.
* "Send in the Clones"
Jimmy cooks up a half dozen clones to do his chores so he can head off into space to collect ice crystals. The clones aren't exactly carbon copies: there's a rainbow-haired comedian, a love-struck Frenchman complete with pencil mustache, a pessimistic sourpuss, a happy lad with a Dutch boy haircut, a John Travolta wanna-be, and a mischievous clone with devil-horned hair that sounds very much like Jack Nicholson. Mayhem ensues when various townsfolk run into the numerous Neutrons. Highlight: watching the love clone professing his feelings for Cindy and her resulting reactions.
* "A Beautiful Mine"
When a meteorite crashes to Earth and splits open to reveal its bounty of gems, Cindy and her friend, Libby, fashion the "asterubies" into jewelry and grab the attention of Jimmy, Carl, and Sheen. With alibis firmly in place, the group ventures into space with hopes of striking it rich by locating and mining more asterubies. Thieving aliens and plain old greed threaten their plans. Highlight: a surprisingly-thrilling outer space chase in the asteroid belt as the pursuing aliens blast lasers at the escaping kids.
* "The Junkman Cometh"
Jimmy, Carl, and Sheen are interrupted from their viewing of Wrestlepalooza by an emergency transmission from Brobot (Brobot is the robotic little brother that Jimmy built previously but later banished to the moon, along with a set of robot parents, after the little bugger proved to be too annoying.) The trio rocket to the moon, only to find that Brobot's message was a ruse for attention. They learn he's not a pestering robo-boy calling robo-wolf when Brobot's parents are abducted by the Junkman, a four-armed cosmic junk scavenger. Highlight: The humor. Definitely one of the funniest episodes I've seen.
From an audiovisual perspective, there's nothing wrong with this disc. The video is nicely mastered, and the computer-generated world of Retroville and its inhabitants looks wonderful. The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo offering is crisp and brings excellent clarity to snarling creatures, engine rockets, and Carl's nasally pipes. It'd be great to hear "A Beautiful Mine" or "The Junkman Cometh" given the full 5.1 treatment, but the offering here is sufficient.
Given Jimmy's past adventures, it's a shame that The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron -- Attack of the Twonkies feels so rehashed and dull. Younger audiences who are unfamiliar with Gremlins may be unable to find fault, but parents may feel like they've seen it before. However, the three bonus episodes are loads of fun and keep this release from being a complete disappointment.
The court hereby finds The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron -- Attack of the Twonkies guilty. However, as evidenced by the bonus episodes presented by the rebuttal witnesses as well as 2001's Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, the court knows that we can -- and should -- expect better than this. Hence, there's no need for a strict sentence, and the court will forgive this misstep if future extended adventures contain more of the unique humor and ingenuity so prevalent in the series' episodes. Court dismissed.
Review content copyright © 2004 David Packard; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site