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Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius

Thanks to Nickelodeon, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius already has a built-in audience. The cable channel is becoming extremely adept at cross-promotion, giving films lots of exposure before they hit screens so that rabid little mindless children will endlessly pester their parents to take them. Regardless of the quality of these films, they do occupy an underdeveloped niche, that of the pre-teen crowd. Jimmy Neutron is not the greatest film. Looking at the imagination that went into the animation is more interesting than the story itself. The title character (voiced by Debi Derryberry, Ghost World, Toy Story 2) is an under appreciated kid genius. While other kids worry about typical kiddie things. Jimmy is trying to invent great new gadgets (he is a boy genius after all) or play with his robot dog Goddard.

Every child's wish is to live without parents. Ah, the freedom. So when Jimmy wishes his parents were gone, and the next day they disappear, he is on cloud nine. It turns out that all adults are gone, leaving the children to run amok. What Jimmy does not realize is that aliens (who came in contact with a satellite he made) abducted all of the parents. They are holding the adults hostage on their planet while the children play all day, eat candy and junk food, and generally go insane. The children soon realize that they miss their parents and need them, and it's up to Jimmy to help them build spaceships and figure out how to rescue the adults.

The story is the weakest point of Jimmy Neutron. John A Davis (Santa vs. the Snowman), David N. Weiss (Rugrats in Paris, Rugrats the Movie), J. David Stern (Anastasia) and Steve Odekerk (The Nutty Professor II, Patch Adams) all receive story credit, with script credit going to Davis and Odekerk and Davis directing. Most so-called 'kid' movies rely on gross-out humor to make kids laugh. Jimmy Neutron holds off until near the end, mainly because it ran out of story. It also takes a while for the story to even get going. For adults, the entire experience will be pretty boring. Children will enjoy it more because there are enough things to distract them from a lack of plot.

The main distraction is the computer animation. Some films strive for extreme realism (Final Fantasy). Jimmy Neutron eschews this and goes for a cartoony look. This is a plus, since it gives the movie a unique look that it can claim as its own. Oversized heads, skinny bodies, and Jimmy's enormous pompadour allow animators to go for broke in giving him exaggerated expressions. The only imagination in the entire film also went into the animation. The best example is when Jimmy uses a local carnival and all of its rides for his fleet of space ships. Watching the rides launch into space and fly to the alien planet is oddly exhilarating. Goddard is fun to watch every time he appears on screen. Otherwise, Jimmy Neutron is a typical attempt at a movie for kids. Many tries at humor that often fail, little kids saving the day, fart jokes, and a handy moral wrapping things up.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 23 minutes, Rated G.

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