An IQ of over 200…and only 2 feet tall.
Remember last year's Academy Awards ceremony? There were three movies up for the Oscar in the new category "Best Animated Feature." Two contenders included DreamWorks' mega hit Shrek and Disney's furry monster tale Monsters, Inc. The winner, of course, was DreamWorks' Shrek. However, if you'll recall there was one more movie up for that award: Paramount's gizmo toddler show Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Of course, everyone knew that award would go to either Shrek or Monsters, Inc., leaving Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius in their wake. But thanks to the wondrous technology that is DVD, animation fans can finally catch that "other" Oscar nominated movie on in the privacy of their own homes!
Facts of the Case
Meet Jimmy Neutron. Jimmy lives in Retroville with his doting parents. Jimmy goes to school and works hard. Jimmy has a best friend in the form of the chubby Carl. Jimmy is also a super-genius who builds plutonium powered rockets, robotic dogs, and toaster satellites in his spare time.
Needless to say, Jimmy is one bright little tyke.
Jimmy and his neighbors lives are suddenly turned upside down when a nasty race of aliens (led by King Goobot and his nutty sidekick Ooblar) intercept one of Jimmy's toaster satellites, learns earth's coordinates, and kidnaps all the parents of Retroville for use as a sacrifice for their mutant chicken god! Now it's up to Jimmy, Carl, and all their friends to save their parents by building spaceships out of amusement park rides (keeping in mind that this is a cartoon and Jimmy is a genius) and blasting off into the stratosphere to save their parental units from mass annihilation! It's all in a day's work for Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius!
I've seen both Monsters, Inc. and Shrek. After watching Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, I've come to the conclusion that it's my least favorite of 2001's animated features. This isn't to say that it's a bad movie; kids are going to eat this thing up like it was a tub of cotton candy laced with goobers and milk duds. While I enjoyed Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius enough, I felt that it lacked the heart and soul that goes into more superior animated films. But even with these problems, the film is cute and fun without being overly sentimental or sappy.
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius was written and produced by Steve Oedekerk. So far I haven't been even slightly entertained by most of Oedekerk's fare (this includes, but is not limited to, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Patch Adams, and Thumb Wars Episode I: The Phantom Cuticle). As you can see, Mr. Oedekerk is already on my poop-list (that's the safest word I could find…this is a G-rated review, you know). Of all the movies he's been involved with, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius is his best to date. I liked the feel of the animation—instead of trying to be slick and cutting edge, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius goes for a more 1950s look (style, not animation), which lends itself well to the story. Jimmy himself looks as if he stepped off of a demented version of Leave it to Beaver. His parents are even more nostalgic looking in appearance than he is. And where would a boy genius be without nerdy best friend?
When I was a kid, I would pretend to build rocket packs and laser guns. I think for many young boys and girls this was a cornerstone of their youth. Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius taps into that fantasy by letting Jimmy come up with all kinds of weird gadgets and gizmos. Jimmy's dog Goddard is made from spare parts and is like a portable utility belt (when he plays dead, he really plays dead—he explodes!), and some of Jimmy's creations are downright exciting! The voice work in this film is very good, especially the teaming of Martin Short (Innerspace) and Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: First Contact) as the lead baddies King Goobot and Ooblar the sidekick. And could that be ex-Studs host Mark DeCarlo as Jimmy's goodhearted father?
I have only a few complaints about Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, the main one being Debi Derryberry, the woman who provides the voice for little Jimmy (yes folks, like Dexter and Bart Simpson, Jimmy is really a "she"). Derryberry, aside of being cursed with a horrid last name, is far too screechy and irritating as Jimmy's vocal chords. Halfway into the film I wanted to reach through the TV tube and either strangle the character or force him though puberty. My only other complaint is a minor but substantial qualm: I'm no NASA expert, but when you travel through the deepest recesses of space don't you need a space suit and helmet?
Intergalactic quibbles. Enjoy the film for what it is: youthful escapism. So says the Ultra Lord! (See the movie to get the reference.)
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, as well as an optional 1.33:1 full frame version. I was very impressed with how nice this transfer looked. Colors and black levels were very bright and dynamic without any bleeding or artifacting. Edge enhancement was non-present while pixelation and any other defect appeared to be absent. All in all Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius is a nearly reference quality transfer.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English, as well as Dolby 2.0 Surround in English and French. Much like the transfer, I was impressed with this film's 5.1 mix. I wasn't expecting the movie to be quite as loud and bombastic as it turned out to be. Rockets zoomed by the front speakers while laser cannons blasted through the rear channels. I heard no signs of distortion or hiss in any of the dialogue, effects, or music. Overall, this ended up being quite a pleasant audio track. Also included on this disc are English subtitles.
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius is a kids' movie, which means there are a few extra features that are for the most part insubstantial. The best of the supplements is a fairly extensive "Making of Jimmy Neutron" featurette that covers everything from the voice casting to the animation to the foley work for the sound effects. I'm always interested in how these animated films are made, and this featurette is a good start to learning what goes into making something like Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Some of the interviews are a hoot (including director John A. Davis, writer/producer Steve Oedekerk, and voice stars Martin Short and Patrick Stewart), and the behind-the-scenes footage is really a lot of fun to watch.
Next up are 12 promo spots—seven interstitials (little comedy shorts) and five cliffhangers (short stories with nail-biting endings), all presented in full frame versions. Finally there are two music videos (Aaron Carter's "Leave it up to Me" and No Secrets' remake of The Go-Go's "Kids in America"), a teaser trailer, a theatrical trailer for the film, and some DVD-ROM content for a personal computer.
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius isn't the best animated film I've ever seen, but it's imaginative, goofy, and full of spunk. If you can tear your kids away from Shrek or Monsters, Inc. for more than ten seconds, they might actually enjoy this scientific little expedition. Paramount's work on the disc is more than adequate, especially in the video and audio presentations.
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius is acquitted on almost all charges, except for his annoying voice! Case dismissed!
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