The Adventures Of Jimmy Neutron: Boy
review by Zach B.
Running Time: 110 minutes
Starring The Voices Of: Debi Derryberry, Mark DeCarlo, Megan Cavanagh, Jeffrey Garcia, Rob Paulsen
Retail Price: $19.95
Features: Behind The Scenes, Storyboards, Inventions Gallery, Previews
Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Stereo, English Closed Captions, Episode Selections
Released: October 24th, 2003
The television show "The Adventures Of Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius" is the final phase in Nickelodeon/Paramount/Viacom's master plan. You see, in 2001 a movie called Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and went on to become a smash hit at the box office and with critics (it was even up for an Oscar® under the catagory "Best Animated Feature Film" - it lost). The idea of the film was it was going to introduce people to a television series starring characters from the movie, and to hype the movie, promotional spots were shown throughout Nickelodeon months before the film opened in theaters (not to mention a trailer that debuted in the year 2000). It seems for Nick a new franchise was born - you couldn't turn away from Jimmy Neutron and you had to be subjected to his antics in a variety of different ways. I thought it was a brilliant marketing strategy and it was one that obviously worked. "The Adventures Of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" has gone on to become a very popular show kids, adults and even critics. Thankfully, the show is quite bearable and very inventive.
For those unfamiliar with the movie or the character, Jimmy Neutron is an elementary school kid who also happen to be a boy genius (almost reminds you of Dexter from rival network Cartoon Network's "Dexter's Laboratory"). He has two loving parents, a robot dog named Goddard and is always building new gadgets to get him out of trouble but always seem to get him into more trouble. Jimmy has a rival in a girl named Cindy, and he also has two best friends: the fan boy known as Sheen and the always afraid, semi-obese Carl. The show follows Jimmy, his parents and his peers as he seems to get into one zany situation after another. It's pretty formulatic actually: Jimmy does something wrong and he has to fix it. Nonetheless, it's always entertaining.
I enjoyed the Jimmy Neutron movie quite a bit, but I have to say I like the television show even better. The writing is even sharper and at times, it's even a bit more "out there" with some really funny bits of dialogue. The plotlines on the TV show are really creative and downright clever for the most part as they are well crafted. The characters are pretty funny, and so are the scenarios and many bits of the dialogue. Like many great cartoon shows, all ages can enjoy this. There are a lot of wonderful references (be it from popular culture, history or wherever) for older viewers that is sure to fly right over the heads of younger viewers (afraid you won't fit in because you missed a pop culture event based on an obscure piece of pop culture you've never heard of? a selling machine called the Willy Loman 3000? Just classic!). You really have to see an episode of the show to know what I am talking about since this show is so inventive and very imaginative.
It's hard to pinpoint what I like about this show best, since there's so much you can enjoy - be it the weird situations or obscure ideals that are covered in such a light-hearted manner. The characters are very likeable and seeing many of them interact is always great since they're all so weirdly but joyfully different. The show is entertaining in all aspects, and in fact, may even teach you something about doing things the right way and about science (all in my favorite way: being subtle and not preachy - huzzah!). In fact, I'll even go out and say that "The Adventures Of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" is one of the best and most noteable cartoon series to debut in the past fifteen or so years. It really helps that there is always so much to take in throughout each episode as most warrant repeated viewings to catch every little thing. Oh, and as I keep stressing, it helps that the show works on quite a few different levels so there are things the kids can enjoy and there are things older folks can enjoy.
The animation is exactly same as the movie, which is fine by me. I still think the computer animation the show features is really neat. Everything looks quite cartoony, bright and very detailed - like the movie, the show has a nice, full and clean look to it. Retroville is nicely imagined while the character, prop and setting designs are very nice all while maintaining a very simple but natural look. The show features some of the best computer animation ever for a computer animated TV series if you ask me, and was created with off-the-shelf software - stuff you can probably pick up in your local computer store or on the Internet. It all looks more complex than it looks. On a different note, the show has some terrific voice acting that really shines.
Paramount's second compilation of episodes from the show are quite enjoyable - most of them deal with themes of exploration and the ocean. The episodes included are "Raise The Oozy Scab," "The Phantom Of Retroland," "Hypno Birthday To You," "Hall Monster," "Trading Faces," "Journey To The Center Of Carl," "I Dream Of Jimmy," "Substitute Creature," "Broadcast Blues" and finally, "Professor Clamatitous, I Presume." Enjoy these episodes folks.
The shows are in their original 1.33:1 full screen aspect ratios, just as they were broadcasted on cable TV. Just like the first DVD, these transfers are pretty much perfect with the exception of a lot of noise that tends to interfere. What struck me once again is how great the picture looks - the transfers are clear and really pop right out at you. The episodes have strong color saturation as well with bold colors that are quite vibrant. Detail is also very nice and black levels are strong. In all, the transfers are quite sharp and very pleasing to the eye.
All the episodes have stereo tracks in English (as well as English closed captioning through your TV). Even though these tracks have limits, you'd be surprised in how much ambiance they bring across. The stereo tracks capture the show's sounds well. Despite the limited dynamic range, everything comes in together nicely: the background noises (such as birds chirping), the music is clear, the dialogue comes in well and is not distorted while a variety of sound effects provide much of the action. The episodes are pretty action packed: lightning, explosions, things firing off and Jimmy's inventions just to name a few. Fidelity on the tracks are also pretty high. Overall, these tracks are pretty nice and pleasing.
There are two Behind The Scenes spots on this DVD: "Drawing Goddard" and "Original Character Sketches." The first lasts a mere 30 seconds as storyboard artist Paul Claerhoust draw's Jimmy's robotic dog in 2-D - he doesn't speak and no insight can be found there. The character sketches bit does last a bit over a minute as the show's director and designer, Keith Alcorn, shows off original models and drawings of the show's characters and how they've evolved. Sprinkled in with a few show clips, it's a decent but very short overview of some of the show's evolution (Alcorn does crack a decent joke though at the expense of his young daughter).
Storyboards are story reels for the "Raise The Oozy Scab" and "I Dream Of Jimmy" episodes where the shows are mainly presented in 2-D drawings with just the voice tracks. These features aren't anything new, but can be interesting nonetheless. Inventions Gallery shows off some of Jimmy's inventions in pure 3-D stills and then you have a bunch of Previews for "SponeBob SquarePants" DVDs, "The Wild Thornberrys Movie," the first "Jimmy Neutron" DVD, a trailer for the "Jimmy Neutron" feature film and a spot for the videogame "Tak and the Power Of The Juju."
I do enjoy the "The Adventures Of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" show and Paramount's second compilation is perfectly suitable for fans of the series and movie. The stereo tracks are fine, transfers are excellent but the extras are a bit lacking. Nonetheless, the price is resonable. Hopefully future volumes will include more in-depth supplements, but if you like the show or know someone who does, this will do nicely.