Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
directed by John A. Davis
(Nickelodeon, 2001)

In many ways, Jimmy Neutron is just your average 'tween.

He has a robotic dog named Goddard, machines that dress him and brush his teeth and a rocket pack that gets him to school on those days when he's too busy flying around in his makeshift airplane to catch the big yellow bus.

He shrinks himself to the size of a mouse, turns in science projects that baffle his teacher even more than they baffle his classmates (and the audience) and builds a communications satellite out of his mom's toaster. And he's much too busy trying to contact distant alien civilizations to even consider having breakfast with his family.

With all that going on, you'd hardly think Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius would need a plot. But it has one. You see, Jimmy (voiced by Debi Derryberry) is right about the egg-shaped aliens on the other end of his broadcasts: they're definitely trying to contact Earth. But he's wrong about their motives: they don't want to meet Earthlings; they want to eat Earthlings. And they've decided that adult Earth creatures would make terrific entrees, not just for themselves, but for their divine being, Poultra.

Still, a movie needs more than a storyline if it's going to hold up for 82 animated minutes. It needs a collection of characters, and here again, Jimmy Neutron has no shortage.

There's Jimmy "James Isaac" Neutron himself, of course, and his preteen pals Carl Wheezer (Rob Paulson), the asthmatic nerd who learns how to turn his inhaler into a weapon of deadly accuracy, and Sheen (Jeffrey Garcia), the superhero-addicted worshiper of Ultra Lord (Jim Cummings). They provide Jimmy with what little comic relief is needed when Goddard's not around.

Then there are Jimmy's parents, the clueless Cleaver clones (Megan Cavanagh and Mark DeCarlo). (As if their appearance isn't enough of a giveaway, Jimmy's dad's name is Hugh.)

And of course we get a 'tween love interest, Cindy Vortex (Carolyn Lawrence), Jimmy's competition in the classroom -- plus Jimmy's competition in the schoolyard, Nick (Candi Milo), a preteen James Dean, a rabble without a pause, who ultimately is forced to join forces with Jimmy to battle with....

The aliens, in particular, King Goobot, leader of the Yokians, and Ooblar, the king's aide and, in his own words, "Official checker of the new things to be checked." Patrick Stewart seems to be having a grand time giving vocal life to the evil king, and Martin Short's performance as the voice of Ooblar is proof positive Short was meant to be heard and not seen.

What Goobot and Ooblar have in mind for Jimmy's parents, and all the parents of Jimmy's town, is definitely a violation of the Geneva Convention, not to mention good taste. It's a scene you can't help but relish, especially if you've ever had the misfortune to experience the chicken dance.

Jimmy Neutron has been taken to task for its video-game-style animation and weak characterization. And there's no doubt it belches up some fairly gross gags.

But I say that's silly -- just like Jimmy Neutron. So enjoy it for what it is, before you and he get one day older.

- Rambles
written by Miles O'Dometer
published 7 December 2002

Buy it from Amazon.com.