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Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius

review by Zach B.

 

 

Rating: G

Running Time: 82 minutes

Starring The Voices Of: Debi Derryberry, Mark DeCarlo, Patrick Stewart, Martin Short, Megan Cavanagh, Andrea Martin, Jeffrey Garcia, Rob Paulsen

Screenplay by: John A. Davis and David N. Weiss & J. David Stem and Steve Odekerk
Story by: John A. Davis and Steve Odekerk

Directed by: John A. Davis

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: The Making Of Jimmy Neutron, "Leave It Up To Me" Aaron Carter Music Video, "Kids In America" No Secrets Music Video, 12 Promotional Spots, Teaser Trailer, Theatrical Trailer. DVD-ROM: 7 Games

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 1.33:1 Full Frame, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selections (14 Scenes)

Released: July 2nd, 2002

 

 

Perhaps those business marketing brains at Nickelodeon/Paramount/Viacom are smarter than Jimmy Neutron himself. No, seriously. I think how this movie was marketed was pure genius (pun intended!), and just might be a good indication of why this movie went on to gross 80 million dollars at the box office last winter. Jimmy truly hit the mark that he was intended to hit, getting its demographic audience right at the core. Nickelodeon devised a scheme that involved showing a trailer (included on this DVD) over a year before the movie opened, and in the time between, created a few promotional spots that aired non-stop in between Nick's own programs that introduced Jimmy and the inhabitants of Retroville, plus a new trailer. Finally, the movie opened, did quite well and fleshed out the world of Retroville. To top off the rather big audience Jimmy now has inherited, a half-hour Jimmy Neutron CGI cartoon series is due to air on Nickeldeon in fall 2002 (and this had nothing to do with the movie's success, but rather, was part of the original plan). So it seems that Nick has created a new franchise. Again, genius (pun intended again!) marketing.

Thankfully, "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" is actually a very solid, fun and enjoyable movie. I missed its run last winter, but I was quite intrigued to check it out on DVD. I guess this is even a good pilot for the television series itself, as we're introduced the world of Retroville, the characters and Jimmy itself. So yes, we meet Jimmy. An elementary school student who's a genius. And since he's a genius, he devises and creates many incredible gadgets and inventions such as a method for traveling by bubble, a ray that can make things grow or shrink and a loyal swiss-army-knife-like dog named Goddard. Life seems good for Jimmy Neutron, especially with his loving parents and all, but all his latest gadgets keep getting him into trouble.

With the announcment of Retroland opening, a cool new amusment park, Jimmy and his friends Carl and Sheen get the idea that going opening night - a school night no less - is something important to do, especially since they think everyone important is going to be there. A fellow classmate named Nick gives Jimmy and his friends some ideas in how to go, especially since they all know that their parents won't let them out on a school night.

So Jimmy tries to butter up his Mom, and that plan fails. His friends can't go either. So they plan to sneak out, and they do and have themselves a fun night at the park. On the way home, Jimmy and his pals wish that they didn't have parents anymore so they could do what they want. Obviously, you should be careful what you wish for, since you might get it. That very night, all the parents in Retroville are kidnapped by an alien race, somewhat in part due to Jimmy, as he's been trying to contact alien life and this race got his message. And while it's all fun and games at first, soon all the kids of Retroville miss their parents, and it's up to them to save them from being eaten and return them to earth.

Many people and critics have complained about "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius," feeling that it wasn't worthy to be nominated for the first ever Best Animated Feature Film Oscar® early this year. Perhaps before people bash this movie into the ground and dismissing it as "kiddie fun," they should actually see it. Yes, as much as I did enjoy Waking Life, "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" did deserve to be up with "Monsters, INC." and the overrated Shrek. This is a very fun, very creative and very entertaining movie for all ages. I still think "Monsters, INC." should have taken the trophy home, but "Jimmy Neutron" is very superior to "Shrek" if you ask me.

The screenplay, credited to four writers, is very, very sharp, witty and creates a solid story for all the characters. Like I said, it almost acts as a pilot for the television show: it sets up everything very well, and does it without sacrificing anything. There are jokes in the movie that are truly aimed for a kid audience (if you're under twelve you'll really enjoy all those belches in the last scene), but most of the stuff is level headed. There isn't stuff that will fly over children's heads, but good natured laughs and fun stuff for a large audience, so if parents have to sit through it, they should have a good time. It's an overall solid story too that works, seperating and then unifying two different groups of people. Hey, in some cases, it's almost like a big summer movie with space aliens, the conflicts, danger and all. So, besides setting the universe up, it delivers a fine plot that entertains nicely.

I also really liked the animation. Some people did not, but it's really spiffy in my opinion. Everything here is so bouncy and rather detailed: it has a nice, full and clean look to it. The space world is quite imaginary while the designs of Retroville are also nice. There are some great and imaginary character designs too. Still, it all retains a pretty simplistic though nice look. It may not be as detailed as the PDI and Pixar stuff, but there's good reason for that: "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" was created on off-the-shelf software, stuff you can probably pick up in your local computer store or on the Internet. It's not as complex, but it surely looks it to varying degrees.

"Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" is also a very positive movie, teaching several lessons to youngsters without shoving those morals down their tiny throats, but rather, subtly putting them throughout. As much as someone us may hate are parents when we're young, old or whatnot, but they are important parts in our lives. Besides bringing us into this world, a lot of parents off their offspring unconditional love, helping them and providing food, shelter, advice and whatever they may need. This movie, as fun as it might be without parents, shows how important they are into the lives of kids. Another lesson the film teaches is about doing your own thing, for whatever you may do, may hurt, but it doesn't make you a bad person - especially when you help out in other ways. And yes, not talking to strangers is a more direct thing the film covers, but it's also about the little guy (Jimmy) showing his worth. There's a lot of good things to be taken account for in the film.

The voice acting is top notch, too. Martin Short is his great usual self as an alien sidekick, while Patrick Stewart is really great as the alien king. A lot of Stewart's work is pretty dramatic, and this voice calls for something much more humorous. You can tell it's Stewart's voice, but how he annunciates himself, is more giddy... it's really a side I haven't seen in his work before, so it's a nice change of pace and is quite solid. Performances from Debi Derryberry, Mark DeCarlo, Rob Paulsen, Andrea Martin, Jeffrey Garcia and Megan Cavanagh are very good too.

"Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" is a very good and solid family film. It drips with fun and creativity, making it a fine watch for all ages. If you missed it the first time around, be sure to check it out now for its home video release. I must admit, I'm looking forward to the "Jimmy Neutron" cartoon series now...

 

A very smart move by Paramount, the studio has given us "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" in widescreen and full frame formats. Thankfully, this is a studio that realizes some adults do tend to enjoy animated films as well as the widescreen format, all while pleasing the mass market consumer who prefer no black bars. And the transfers are not seperate releases either and are both on one disc, which is fine if you ask me, seeing how the film is short and the extras are somewhat sparse. This means there is no real dip in quality for you home theater fans.

I'll get the bad out of the way first: like another recent computer animated flicks to come their on DVD, this is NOT a direct digital to digital transfer. I could tell because only film like flaws could be found on it: grain is noticable sometimes, and I noticed some marks on the print, pieces of dirt and tiny scratches. Those are not distracting, but they are present throughout. I found that this was not a direct digital transfer slightly disappointing, but truthfully, I don't care because this is one of the best Paramount transfers I've ever seen. It almost looks like a digital to digital transfer.

Hues are quite nice, while color saturation is dead-on. Everything here is rather vibrant, has depth and a result pops right out at you. Everything is fully saturated and just looks splendid. The greens shine nicely on the space aliens, the humans look good and Retroville is colorful, blazing and bright. Black levels are quite good and background detail is perfect. There is some shimmering here and there, but I'll let it slide. Despite the minor shortcomings, this is pretty close to perfection. And you know what? That's certainly a great thing.

 

Wow, the English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix really jolted my speakers and took me by surprise! The 5.1 mix fits perfectly with the movie, and it's truly one of the best mixes I've heard in a long while. This track is particuarly impressive, especially since this movie uses a great deal of surrounds and has a fantastic feeling to the ambiance it holds. The variety of songs and their mixing is rather impressive. Be it the cover of "Kids In America," "Pop" from *NSYNC or the classic punk tune "Blitzkreig Pop" from The Ramones, everything here holds it own quite nicely. The fine score from John Debney is also rather nice too. All of these have good use of the channels and the .1 LFE.

Still, what impressed me most was the tremendous amount of surrounds. This movie has a fury of them, and thereby there is never a dull moment. Active surround use that uses clever and aggresive mixing and a lot of deep bass is present throughout. Be it the rides at Retroland, Jimmy blasting off into space, the climatic arena scene, explosions, Jimmy's inventions (they can be quite loud) and all sorts of action in between, there is a lot to love about this 5.1 mix and really brings you into the fun fantasy that it is. Even the smaller sounds like footsteps are slight echoes are quite good. Dialogue is very easy to hear too and quite crisp, and surprisingly, it's very hearable during the major action scenes. This is just a fine mix overall. Also included is an English Dolby Surround track, a French Dolby Surround track, English closed captions and English subtitles.

 

It's not feature packed, but the supplements here suit Jimmy's core audience fine and are enough to entertain some of his older fans. Everything here fits perfectly, actually, even if it's all technically promotional. The main thing here is The Making Of Jimmy Neutron which lasts slightly over sixteen minutes. Besides non-anamorphic widescreen clips, there are interviews with the cast and crew (such as with Martin Short, Steve Odekerk, Patrick Stewart, John A. Davis, Carolyn Lawerence, producer Keith Alcorn, Mark DeCarlo, Rob Paulsen and a few more) and behind the scenes footage such as storyboarding, model making and computer animation, plus voice acting sessions and sound effect sessions, among other subjects. It's a bit promotional the way through, but there's enough insight and information that should keep watchers satisfied.

We also have two Music Videos: Aaron Carter's "Leave It Up To Me" and "Kids In America," yet another cover of this song from No Secrets. I swear... every other kids movie has a cover of this song. And hey, it introduces us to the band No Secrets. A bit annoying for both music videos is that the name of the song, artist, the record label, the name of the soundtrack ("Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" Original Soundtrack of course!) and "IN STORES NOW!" is on both of these videos the whole way through.

We also have seven fun DVD-ROM games which sould entertain the kids and the Teaser Trailer for the movie and the Theatrical Trailer, both in non-anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1.

Still, my favorite thing on this disc was the 12 Promotional Spots. As I mentioned in my medium review, these were shown on the cable network Nickeldeon to hype the movie errrr introduce Jimmy to the audience. Again, great marketing. These are fun to watch, though the transfers aren't the film's quality. No matter, the quality of the shorts themselves count and these are very nice, and really fun to watch. They are divided up into two sections: five are "Cliffhangers" and the other seven are "Interstitaials." If you're a fan of the movie and haven't seen these, you'll surely enjoy them. Just short little entertainment bites, and again, great marketing in general. I'm happy they were included on the disc.

"Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" is a fantastic animated treat, and this DVD serves it up quite nicely. With some slight but very nice extras to bring us into Jimmy's world further, a wonderful transfer and a booming 5.1 mix, this little smart boy is worth checking out on DVD if you're interested, like animated films or just want a fun time. Don't miss it.