Rated G - Running Time: - Released 12/21/01

While it lacks the sparkling wit of other recent children's movies, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius is a serviceable piece of juvenile entertainment with high production values and low expectations. Based on the story written by director John A. Davis and Steve Oedekerk, and adapted for the screen with the help of David N. Weiss and J. David Stem, the film stars pint-sized, huge-headed, pompadour-wearing inventor and braniac James Isaac Newtron, whose inventions don't always work exactly the way they're supposed to, but never fail to get him in plenty of trouble with his parents. It features crisp, digital 3-D animation and a spectacular array of beautiful colors, wrapped around a mediocre-at-best script with a pedestrian story and marginally interesting characters.

Always trying to reach out to the alien community, the pre-pubescent Jimmy (voice of Debi Derryberry) launches a crude communications satellite made out of his parents' toaster into space with a brief video message announcing the existence of planet Earth and its human inhabitants. Little does Jimmy know his message is intercepted by King Goobot (Star Trek's Patrick Stewart), the ruler of a race of egg-shaped, gooey green aliens from the planet Yokus whose transparent shells keep their green liquid insides from spilling out. Thinking that humans might be a tasty treat for the huge monster chicken that seems to be in control, the nasty king and his toady assistant Ooblar (Martin Short) dispatch a fleet of ships to Earth to abduct the entire adult population. While Jimmy and his friends are at an amusement park, their parents are taken aboard the rubber-chicken-shaped ships and flown back to Yokus to begin the traditional brainwashing/indoctrination/sacrifice procedures.

Although at first the kids love living without the annoying rules of their elders, they soon realize that no one is making them dinner. Jimmy figures out what happened, plans a rescue mission, and designs a collection of spaceships out of amusement park rides. Soon he is flying through the galaxy with his friends, who include the asthmatic and wimpy Carl Wheezer (Rob Paulsen); tough guy and teen heartthrob Nick Dean (Candi Milo); Jimmy's prime intellectual competitor, brainy girl Cindy Vortex (Candy Milo, who is apparently a different person from Candi); and his trusty robot dog Goddard. There they find Jimmy's mother (Megan Cavanagh) and father (Mark DeCarlo), and all their parents, under the control of the brainwashing headgear placed there by Goobot and his minions.

As I have mentioned before, it is only in this age of ever-increasingly-amazing computer animation that a film like Jimmy Neutron would be judged as average. Ten years ago, it would have changed the world. But considering that the honeymoon period of CGI has worn off considerably, the script is the next thing to be judged, and in this case it is nothing to write home about. There are some clever comments and a few quirky supporting performances (like SCTV alum Andrea Martin, who plays Jimmy's teacher with amusing psychosis), and the artwork is certainly distinctive, but for the most part this film is another low-rent idea gone Hollywood. ***½

Copyright 2001 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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