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Film Review: Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
In 2001, John A. Davis released Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, based on some three-minute animated shorts seen on Nickelodeon and a pilot in 1998. Starring Debi Derryberry, Patrick Stewart, Martin Short, Frank Welker, Rob Paulsen, Carolyn Lawrence, Jeffrey Garcia, Crystal Scales, Megan Cavanagh, Mark DeCarlo, Jim Cummings, Kimberly Brooks, Andrea Martin, Billy West, Bob Goen, Mary Hart, and Greg Eagles, the film grossed $103 million at the box office. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, losing to Shrek, making it the first release from Nickelodeon Movies to receive a nomination for an Academy Award.
Though Jimmy Neutron is 10 years old, he has an IQ of 210 and works on inventions in his spare time with his robotic dog, Goddard. While he’s living a life that’s only ordinary for him, the communication satellite he launches is intercepted by aliens called Yolkians who eventually come to earth to abduct everyone’s parents.
Though it has an incredibly interesting premise for a kids’ film, looking at an alien abduction of an area’s parents, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius is a less than interesting, moderately decent film. What’s really odd, though, is it’s nomination for Best Animated Feature. While the award itself was a new addition to that year’s Academy Awards, this film doesn’t quite seem worthy of an Oscar nomination as the animation is pretty clunky and feels hastily done. Though Shrek won it for that year and Monster’s, Inc. was also nominated, there were plenty of other animated works during 2001 that should have been nominated in its place, like Atlantis: The Lost Empire, which had an interesting stylistic choice in its animation, and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Even the animated portions of Osmosis Jones felt better done than this film.
As for the film’s plot, it feels like the filmmakers only thought halfway through the premise of a 10 year old boy wishing for a world with no parents while the parents get abducted by aliens at the same time. For one, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t suspicion that everyone’s parents went to Florida for some orange juice but a celebration that they can do whatever they want. It’s only after they’ve jumped the gun and experienced failure at their own society do they think it’s strange. Further, while the Yolkians only took the adults, it seems that none of the kids in Retroville were any older than elementary school age, which doesn’t make any sense at all and only serves to foster the illogical idea that not one person in the entire town thought about the absurdity of everyone’s parents going away at the exact same time. What’s more is that not only were there no teenagers, but there’s no infants. It’s entirely unrealistic.
There’s also a pretty big plot hole when the kids discover the missing parents, reading off the stamped note the Yolkians left. Goddard was with Jimmy, Carl, and Sheen at this point, but he was also pretending to be Jimmy the night Jimmy made the wish. Goddard should have immediately known something was up and brought up the footage of Jimmy’s parents saying they’d see him in the morning instead of letting all the kids wreck the entire town before calling it up. This also shows that Jimmy’s only smart when the situation calls for it as he doesn’t think something’s up when everyone has notes that look exactly alike, only choosing to compare the notes to his parent’s handwriting after Goddard brings the aforementioned point to his attention.
Granted, there are some good points to this film, namely in its lessons. The film strives to tell its audience that it should be careful what they wish for as well as love, listen and understand where their parents are coming from because parents know what’s best for their children. The only problem is that the good points are caught up in a weird and pointless plot told with bad animation. The Yolkians are also the best part of the film, with the funniest moments coming from Ooblar and his initial fascination with the toast that springs up from the “satellite” and his eventual eating of it, all while King Goobot gives him a disturbed look.
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