“I may be small, but I have a big brain!” shouts the hero and title character of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (voiced by Debbi Derryberry). And that’s the point of the movie: Even the smallest school kid — given the brain of a genius, a motley crew of friends, a pet robot dog and the wild inventiveness of a fresh batch of animators — can solve any problem, even flying to distant galaxies to rescue their parents from the clutches of human-eating aliens. Little kids will love Jimmy Neutron. It’s an absolute feast for the eyes and it never — I mean never –stops moving. Apparent in every aspect of the movie — from each character through each line of dialogue and every piece of action — is the underlying theme that children are creative dynamos. Jimmy’s parents are indulgent of his wild creativity and encourage his science experiments, even if most of them explode. They smile benignly when Jimmy knocks down the chimney in his attempts to achieve space travel. When he sets the house on fire in another explosion, Mom just scoots out from underneath the car she was fixing in the garage and wipes the transmission fluid off her dress before she scolds him. Another theme is one that parents will really appreciate: The kids in Jimmy Neutron actually love their parents. (What a concept!) The kids complain, of course, about their parents and fantasize how exciting life would be if their parents would just disappear and leave them to their own misbehavior. But when their parents get sucked up into alien spaceships and parent-knapped to a distant planet, one by one the kids admit they love their parents and want them back. Older kids and adults will like Jimmy Neutron if they can forget trying to be entertained by the story. The truth is the amorphous-shaped Yokian aliens are about as interesting as well, runny eggs — which they resemble — and once the story gets to the alien planet it’s pretty boring. Not even the voices of Patrick Stewart and Martin Short can rescue it from cosmic cuteness. Perhaps the movie’s creators decided realistic aliens would be too frightening for little kids. Maybe so, but the result was aliens who are irrelevant. Do however, plan to be absolutely enchanted with the wit and artistry of the animation. Jimmy Neutron is the first feature-length film to be done completely in 3-D computer-generated imaging (CGI, as insiders calls it) with no pretense whatsoever of re-creating a semblance of reality. The story takes place in Retroville, a time-warpy universe juxtaposing the ’50s and the future (the film’s creators call its style future-retro). Here, PCs look like old Motorolas, cars have Edsel-like tail fins and houses are all painted in Fiesta Ware(R) shades. In any case, enjoy the fantastic details of Jimmy Neutron’s attempts to do something clever and different, rather than lament the fact that it isn’t quite perfect.
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