We like Debi Derryberry, voice of Jimmy Neutron—she’s got a funny name and her last screen credit was Rude Coffee Customer in Ghost World. She’s also a girl doing a boy’s voice which is always cool even if Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius is the biggest dorkfest since Max Keeble’s Big Move. Neutron, like his Nickelodeon grandfather Inspector Gadget, is the poster boy for walking contradictions: he’s lazy (his gizmo wake-up routine is Pee-wee reductive) and while he may own a jet-pack, he still chases after the school bus. At least Gadget had an excuse: he was stupid. The Neutron parent brigade is quintessentially old-fashioned, so much so they’re rendered easily expendable. Once intergalactic aliens haul the film’s Mike Brady and Donna Reed clones off to a distant planet (home of a monster reptile/chicken hybrid), it’s up to Neutron & Co. to save TV Land from tummy aches and boo-boos. Cue moral lesson: parents may not let you have fun but if they’re gone who’s going to scramble your eggs? Jimmy Neutron‘s wide-eyed computer animation is considerably ho-hum by Pixar standards, especially when set to a lifeless teeny bopper soundtrack. The voice-work is top-notch (Andrea Martin’s Mrs. Fowl is joyously witchy and Rob Paulsen’s Carl is the funniest nerd this side of Ralph Wiggum) and sometimes awww-inducing (see the kid who eats too much cotton candy). The story itself is relatively conflicted, walking an awkward line between absurd (a boy looks for his parents inside a garbage can, Martin Short’s Ooblar talks to toast) and downright lame (Jimmy thinks sneaking out is “barbaric”). The been-there-done-that feel of Neutron, though, seems tailormade for the current Nickelodeon crowd—parents will yawn and crack a smile here and there while the 6-and-under crowd might actually stay in their seats.
The best thing about Paramount's Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius DVD are the adorable interactive menus that should keep young kids continually entertained, even after repeat viewings. Parents are advised to stand by and watch as children get to choose between widescreen and fullscreen versions of the film. If they select the fullscreen version, punish accordingly. The video transfer is nothing short of incredible. The print itself is clean while colors are vibrantly saturated. The transfer boasts the kind of warmth noticeably absent from transfers for other animated films of this kind. The Dolby Digital 5.1 is far and away superior to the 2.0 Surround, most noticeable during more frantic sequences. Overall, it's a lively mix.
"The Making of Jimmy Neutron" is less making-of featurette than it is a lengthy retelling of the film's plot by the filmmakers. What little insight is provided into the 3-D computer graphics behind the film is lightweight and uninformative. For pure, unadulterated terror, music videos for Aaron Carter's "Leave It Up to Me" and No Secrets's "Kids in America" have been included. Camp value is through the roof though we're guessing children may need to help parents lift their jaws from the floor. Also included here are the film's teaser and theatrical trailers as well as five cliffhanger promotional spots and seven interstitials. Pop the DVD in your computer's DVD-ROM and your kids have the option of playing seven games related to the film.
Ripe for repeated viewings, this one is a definite keeper for the young ones.