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JIMMY NEUTRON:  BOY GENIUS

Review by Michael Jacobson

Voices:  Patrick Stewart, Martin Short, Debi Derryberry, Candi Milo, Rob Paulsen
Director:  John A. Davis
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1, Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio:  Paramount
Features:  See Review
Length:  82 Minutes
Release Date:  July , 2002

“James Isaac Neutron, how many times have I told you not to launch yourself from the roof?!”

Film ****

Jimmy Neutron:  Boy Genius is frantic fun from start to finish.  If you’re a kid, it works because it taps into just about every fantasy a kid ever had.  If you’re an adult, it works because it makes you remember what it was like to be a kid and have those fantasies.

It’s a superb technical achievement, too, and one that carves its own niche out of the burgeoning genre of computer animated flicks.  While other recent films like Final Fantasy strove for more and more realistic depictions, Jimmy Neutron is pure imagination from start to finish.  The characters are vivid and three dimensional, but not even close to being realistic…their plastic appearance actually makes the entire movie come to life as the ultimate kid’s playroom, or a giant colorful pop-up book.

But those characters are also vivid and memorable…real or unreal, this movie boasts one of the most delightful group of kids I’ve seen in many years, and each one is distinctive and charming in his or her own right.   And that group is led, of course, by young Jimmy.

Jimmy is a boy with a ridiculous amount of brainpower.  His inventions include a communications satellite made from a toaster, a shrink ray gun, and best of all, a mechanical dog named Goddard, who does everything a real dog does and much more.  His latest excursion is to make contact with aliens he believes are signaling earth.

Those aliens track Jimmy’s signal, visit our planet, and…make off with all the parents!  At first, it’s a festive field day for Jimmy and his friends.  But soon, they realize that having no one to tuck you in, make your lunch, or kiss your boo-boos can be a real drag.  Jimmy and friends realize there’s only one thing to do…go to outer space and rescue their parents.  Impossible, you say?  Not for Jimmy!

This movie is endlessly inventive, making use of all the liberation computer animation has to offer.  How Jimmy gets him and his friends into space, for example, is wonderfully imaginative, and I’ll leave it for you to discover.  It’s only the beginning of what the film has to offer.

The aliens, called Yolkians, are also instantly unique and memorable…you’ve never seen anything quite like them.  The fact that their pompous king is voiced by Patrick Stewart is just another part of their charm.

But despite the visual fluidity and imagination, nothing in the picture detracts from the kids themselves.  They are all easily recognizable exaggerations of the real things, and their combined looks and personalities add to the comic goings-on of the film.  And I’ve barely touched on how funny the picture actually is…it’s a high-octane serving of energetic slapstick that would tire the Three Stooges, and serves one clever ace after another in terms of gags, situations, and observations.

And even worse; I haven’t even done justice to the movie’s amazing visual style, which is an incredibly rich and detailed three dimensional canvas where anything and everything is possible.  It even makes the revolutionary Toy Story look like a beginner’s attempt at computer animation.

All elements combined make Jimmy Neutron one of last year’s most manically hip and entertaining movie offerings.  I only hope sequels are in the works!

Video ****

Those who have experienced the lush beauty of computer animation on DVD will be pleased to know Paramount has carried on that tradition of excellence.  Jimmy Neutron is flawless in both anamorphic widescreen and full frame presentations.  This disc preserves all the rich, digital detail of the animators’ efforts, and it will turn your viewing monitor into a playground of images, colors, and movement.  Reference quality.

Audio ***1/2

The 5.1 soundtrack is quite good, too…it might have been a little more bold in the use of rear stage effects, but generally makes good with the medium’s capabilities, keeping the music, dialogue and effects lively and dynamic, with select but effective uses of panning on both axes.  The addition of several updated 80s pop favorites is a fun and welcome touch, too!

Features ***

The disc contains a 16 minute of making-of featurette…not very in-depth as far as the computer animation goes, but does feature a number of cast and crew interviews.  There is also a teaser and theatrical trailer, two music videos (one by Aaron Carter, and one for a brand new version of “Kids in America”), 12 interstitial promotional spots (five of which actually make a story via a series of cliffhangers), and a pair of DVD ROM games.  The menu screens are fairly cool, too.

Summary:

Jimmy Neutron:  Boy Genius is that rare family offering that proves just as fun for the adults as the kids.  This is a fast paced, charmingly funny and imaginative computer generated effort that will have everyone in your house cheering.  Highly recommended.