WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
As far as children's entertainment goes, the computer-animated Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius is a gem in a field of coal. It's imaginative, bright, entertaining, and it even has half a brain. Take one glimpse of Saturday morning television, and you'll appreciate the playful genius of this film. True, Jimmy Neutron doesn't have the far-reaching all-ages brilliance of a Pixar presentation (to which it's been compared), but you have to admire this film for achieving its modest goal: to be a vastly entertaining kiddie flick that's sure to plaster a smile to the faces of reasonably intelligent children everywhere.
James Isaac Neutron is a whiz kid, a child prodigy with a preternatural talent with computers and other gizmos. He can electronically conjure just about anything his pre-teen brain can dream up—although most of these wild inventions tend toward goofy failure and end up driving his parents crazy. He drives his mom so nutso, in fact, that when he begs her to let him attend the geekfest Retroville Fair, she refuses. Naturally, Jimmy is forced to sneak out of the house, and space aliens end up kidnapping all the towns' parents, and Jimmy and his pals plan a daring outer-space rescue…but this fast and silly tale is best savored within the wild digital-cartoony world in which it takes place.
This is a film for the kids. Not that it talks down to children—something I've always despised in kids' entertainment—but if you're expecting lots of sly adult humor hidden in the juvie images, you'll probably be disappointed. If you go into Jimmy Neutron expecting a joyful, innocent ride that hearkens back to your own childhood adventure stories, updated with computer technology, then you're on the right track.
Compared to the previously mentioned Pixar productions, Jimmy Neutron has a bit of a low-rent look. Its characters aren't as painstakingly realized, and the artists seem to have compensated for an inability to address extreme detail by painting their digital creations in broad comic strokes. Remember, though, that this film was brought to life on the equivalent of home computers, and you'll begin to appreciate this achievement.
HOW'S IT LOOK?
Paramount presents Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius in an anamorphic-widescreen transfer of the film's original 1.85:1 theatrical presentation. Image quality of this direct digital-to-digital transfer is exceptional, with detail reaching into backgrounds and vivid colors that pop from the screen. Admittedly, sharpness isn't quite perfect, but I was still impressed by this effort. Blacks are deep and solid, and I noticed only the mildest instances of edge enhancement.
To betray the director's original framing intentions, you can choose to view the film in an optional full-frame presentation.
HOW'S IT SOUND?
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack surprised me. From the very start, the surround activity is very aggressive, creating an involving sound mix that swirls all around you. The front soundstage is also expansive. Dialog is clear and accurate. Music is powerful and punchy.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
The disc offers a few noteworthy special features, but frankly, I was expecting more, thanks to high expectations set forth by ultragroovy editions put forth by Disney and Dreamworks.
The 16-minute The Making of Jimmy Neutron featurette is engaging, giving a nice behind-the-scenes glimpse of the making of the film. Many of the voice cast offer their thoughts on their characters. I always enjoy watching the voice talent do their work in the recording studio, and this featurette doesn't disappoint in that regard.
The supplements go downhill from there. You get a couple of tepid Music Videos, Aaron Carter's bland teeny-bopper "Leave It Up To Me" and No Secrets' cover of "Kids in America." You also get a bunch of Promotional Spots, including seven interstitial spots for daytime TV and five cliffhangers. Finally, you get two amusing Theatrical Trailers, in non-anamorphic widescreen.
WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY?
Above-average video and audio presentation make this presentation of Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius an excellent addition to any DVD library. I hoped for more supplemental material, but even so, this is a fun joyride of a film that is good for all ages—particularly younger ages.