'Jimmy Neutron' is smart, funny animated wonder
By Margaret A. McGurk
The Cincinnati Enquirer
|JIMMY NEUTRON: BOY GENIUS (Rated G) Three Stars (Good)
An inventive young boy leads the children in this animated romp on a space adventure to save their parents who have been kidnapped by human-eating aliens. Featuring the voices of Debi Derryberry, Patrick Stewart, and Martin Short. Directed and co-written by John A. Davis. Paramount Pictures. 84 mins.
But this big-screen romp is jazzed up with ambitious storytelling that takes smart advantage of the high-tech computer animation tools used to create it.
The star is a little boy with a hyper-powered brain. (Like Bart Simpson, his voice is provided by a woman, in this case Debi Derryberry). Where other kids give their parents the shakes by playing with chemistry sets, Jimmy's parents fret about his experiments with atomic-powered rockets. (Apparently he gets it from his mom, who spends part of the movie fixing the transmission on the family car.)
Jimmy's vast array of inventions, including an amazingly talented robotic dog, don't make him especially popular with his classmates, particularly his rival in brain-power, Cindy Vortex (voiced by Carolyn Lawrence).
From his home-grown lab, Jimmy inadvertently leads an army of marauding aliens to Earth looking for humans to eat. The ooey-gooey green globs happen to arrive the night all the kids have snuck out for the opening of a new amusement park, so when the kids come home, all their parents are gone.
After a day of parent-free indulgence, the kids turn to Jimmy to lead them on an outer-space mission to bring home the folks. The resulting action-packed adventure is fast, funny and inventive; for example, the young rescuers travel in a colorful caravan of spacecraft adapted from amusement park rides.
The animation owes a debt to stop-motion clay modeling. It boasts many references to earlier films, including a sequence that pays homage to the 1957 sci-fi classic "The Incredible Shrinking Man." (Thanks to careless handling of Jimmy's homemade shrinking ray, his teacher ends up doing battle with a worm.)
Director John A. Davis shares writing credit with three others, including Steve Oedekerk, author of "The Nutty Professor" and "Ace Ventura." His influence presumably accounts for the mild toilet humor that caused giggle fits in a preview audience of 6-and-younger kids.
The only Christmas release aimed at very young viewers, "Jimmy Neutron" comes equipped with appropriate lessons about the value of learning and, not incidentally, of parents.
Celebrity voices include Patrick Stewart as the alien King Goobot and Martin Short as the king's henchman Ooblar. The bouncy soundtrack includes fun tunes from N'SYNC, Britney Spears, Aaron Carter and Lil Romeo.