January 23, 2012

Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001)

I VAGUELY REMEMBER the kids cartoon The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius airing on Nickelodeon during its 2002-2006 run. But since my boys were born in ’03 and ’06, any TV time offered to them would have been in the more appropriate worlds of PBS Kids or Disney Junior (nee Playhouse Disney).

However, my wife came home recently from our local Once Upon a Child with a near-mint copy of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, the movie that begat the TV series. It follows the antics of Jimmy (Debi Derryberry), an inventive and occasionally mischievous young boy in the town of Retroville, where he lives with his doofus dad (Mark DeCarlo), strict mom (Megan Cavanagh), and trusty robot dog Goddard. All day, every day, Jimmy comes up with outlandish inventions and contraptions, including a communications device that lets him talk with unknown life forms in outer space.

Unfortunately, one of Jimmy’s conversations launches an alien invasion of Retroville, with the parents of the town being kidnapped as part of a ritual sacrifice. Initially, Jimmy and the kids of Retroville are thrilled that that are no more parents to tell them what to do. But when they soon realize that they really do need their parents in their lives, the kids – led by Jimmy and his friends – head to the alien planet to rescue their moms and dads and bring them home.

There’s rarely a dull moment in Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius – whether it’s Jimmy causing chaos with his inventions, or the kids of Retroville arriving on the aliens’ home planet to do battle and bring back their parents. (There’s an especially exciting sequence as Jimmy and the kids turn the rides of their town carnival into spaceships to go battle the aliens.) Yet director and co-writer Jon A. Davis keeps the action from getting too overwhelming, while offering just enough character depth to make you care for everyone involved, even Jimmy’s classmate and nemesis, Cindy (Carolyn Lawrence). Also, the underlying message of not chatting with unseen strangers – which is what Jimmy does, causing the aliens to invade – definitely has a parallel to the Internet safety we preach to our children.

The film also features a pretty rockin’ soundtrack, with covers of classic songs by Thomas Dolby, Kim Wilde, and The Ramones, plus original songs by Aaron Carter and N*SYNC (hey, it was 2001; those guys were popular at the time).

If your kids like the Disney Channel show Phineas & Ferb (also featuring overachieving kids making wacky inventions), they’ll probably enjoy Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. It has continuous action, peppy dialogue…oh, let’s be real: It’s about a smart kid who makes cool inventions, owns a robot dog, and travels to outer space to battle aliens. What kid wouldn’t be intrigued by a combo like that?


What did Dash and
Jack-Jack think?

Both boys really got a kick out of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. They were caught up in the action sequences, and – like any young boy – laughed at many of the jokes involving bodily functions (see some examples below).

Is it suitable for your kids?
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius is rated G, but there’s content that some parents may find objectionable…
  • Language: The following are said by different children: “barf,” “dweeb,” “nerd,” “got their butts kicked,” and “kick some alien buttocks.” There are also passing mentions of constipation, puberty, and a bachelor party.
  • Humor: The film has its share of scatological humor: Goddard, Jimmy’s robotic dog, poops out nuts and bolts in one scene; an abducted father is sitting on the toilet when the aliens beam him up to their spaceship; one kid declares, “I’m peeing in the shower!” as he is shown from the waist up; the word “POOP” is shown as graffiti on a school statue; and several characters, including Jimmy’s parents, go into belching fits after drinking some of Jimmy’s specially created soda. Dad even says, “At least it’s coming out of the attic and not the basement!”
  • Behavior: Bad-boy Nick (Candi Milo) encourages Jimmy to sneak out of his parents’ house after bedtime to go to the carnival. Jimmy does in fact sneak out, disobeying his parents’ orders.
  • Scariness: The idea of aliens kidnapping and eating kids’ parents may be a bit much for very young children (though five-year-old Jack-Jack didn’t seem fazed by it). Also, one of the aliens declares to the children, “Now, you all must die!”
Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
If she has no objection to the content described above, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius is a film for the whole family to enjoy, FilmMother included.

'Neutron?' Sorry, not on the list.

Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
* Director: John A. Davis
* Screenwriters: John A. Davis, David N. Weiss, J. David Stem, Steve Oedekerk
* Stars: Debi Derryberry, Megan Cavanagh, Mark DeCarlo, Jeffrey Garcia, Carolyn Lawrence, Andrea Martin, Candi Milo, Martin Short, Patrick Stewart
* MPAA Rating: G

Rent Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius from Netflix >>


Budd said...

I have met Debi in real life. She is really nice. I lent her some baby stuff while she was in Nashville about 11 years ago. our kids are the same age.

Neil Dunsmore said...

Yeah, this is a relatively enjoyable film, not great, but better than the show. (Especially those painful crossovers with Fairly Odd Parents where Cindy is ALWAYS out of character!)

By the way, I have a strong recommendation for you to show your kids: Cats Don't Dance. It's funny yet deep when you think about it enough.

Surfer Jay said...

Here here I do concur! This one is written well, with just enough mildly crude jokes. It's one of my 3.8yearold's favs, (but then again, which CGI movie isn't one of his favs as I have them all). But he still does get plenty scared with many of the alien scenes and the obducted parental units. He runs and hides behind the couch while peeking over the top, but he won't let me turn it off just the same. So I went and downloaded the whole series and he watches those sometimes.

I was quite impressed with the script when it first came out as well. But I do remember scoffing at the lack of detail/texture in the animation. I really wished it was more detailed, rather than smooth classic style animation drawings. Considering it is CGI, and even in the earlier years of CGI blockbusters way back in 2001, with the increased computer processing power at that time, it was then not only possible, but increasingly demanded to have higher detailed and more complex animated CGI imagery. As was done that same year with Shrek, which of course marked the beginning of DreanmW animation. Nonetheless, a great pick.

I gotta ask, what was your criteria for giving it 3 stars? Rather, than say, 3.15? perhaps the dozen epic CGI films since then has tainted your views of this now cgi classic....no?

I;ve got to add, that the spinoff, Planet Sheen, is horrible. Just awful...the bright colors, lame scripts, re-used and abused jokes. It should have been canceled before it aired.


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