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Jimmy Neutron: Confusion Fusion

Paramount // G // May 27, 2003
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Jason Bovberg | posted June 3, 2003 | E-mail the Author

WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?

When the feature film Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius premiered in 2001, I was impressed by the CGI kidgeekfest's clever writing, retro-slick style, and simple-yet-sly humor. Knowing nothing of the character, I assumed the film was launched from a Nickelodeon television series, but the truth is the opposite: The movie served as the launch platform for a series.

The series manages to be a fine extension of the characters created for the film, bringing all the nostalgia-laced 50s-era stylings and aggressively silly and loud humor faithfully to the small screen—not to mention the oddly sophisticated writing that only the most precocious children would understand. James Isaac Neutron, pint-sized kid genius with the wild pompadour and the robot dog Goddard, is a weirdly marvelous creation in this age of brain-dead Saturday mornings. His vocabulary is consistently challenging—even for some adults—and his ideas are insanely intricate and fun, and yet he retains that aura of silliness and ridiculousness so vital to kids' programming.

The show's Retroland setting is a perfectly vivid and colorful environment for Jimmy to thrive in. Characters interacting with Jimmy include his pie-obsessed dad Hugh Neutron, his loving 50s-TV-show-patterned mom Judy, and his friends—Far Side-inspired Carl, Ultralord-obsessed Sheen, and Kirsten Dunst-soundalike Cindy. It's a fun ensemble whose actions appeal to the kiddie set but whose words often aim for the parents. You get fart jokes combined with quotes from Shakespeare and words like "exacerbate."

Although Jimmy Neutron's debut ostensibly took place in movie theaters, he'd been around for a while, under a few guises. Most notably, the character appeared in interstitials on the Nickelodeon network to generate interest for the film. Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius was a surprising success and was even nominated for a Best Animated Film Academy Award. The animated series debuted in late 2002, and collected on this DVD are the series' first nine episodes. Here they are:

1) When Pants AttackThis double-length episode (at 22 minutes) finds Jimmy getting lectured by Mom to pick up his pants. Naturally, he decides to use nanotechnology to animate the pants so that they can pick up themselves.
2) Normal BoyIn effort to become more "normal," Jimmy drains the smarts from his brain. It's up to his goofball friends to save him.
3) Birth of a SalesmanJimmy's convinced he'll win a candy-selling contest, but his proves to be a bit too earnest. His invention of a mechanical salesman proves disastrous.
4) Brobot—In a fun homage to Frankenstein, Jimmy creates a mechanical little brother. Unfortunately, Brobot proves to be more perfect than Jimmy hoped.
5) The Big PinchUsing a time machine, Jimmy yanks Thomas Edison out of the year 1899 to prove a point to Cindy. Then, abruptly, Edison falls hard for modern times, as well as the strange Ms. Winifred Fowl.
6) Granny Baby—Jimmy's assigned with babysitting his annoying grandmother (Phyllis Diller). Tired of her constant prattle, Jimmy decides to make her young again—too young. Lots of potty humor in this one.
7) Time is Money—Another time-travel episode, this blatant homage to Back to the Future finds Jimmy and his friends traveling 15 years back in time to convince his dad to invest in such a way that the family becomes rich. This episode convinced me that Jimmy's mom is kinda hot.
8) Jimmy on Ice—To escape some stifling summer heat, Jimmy decides to block the sun. He unwittingly brings on an Ice Age.
9) Battle of the Bands—Jimmy and his cohorts form a band to compete against Cindy in a talent contest. However, ego problems develop within the band.

HOW'S IT LOOK?
Paramount presents Jimmy Neutron: Confusion Fusion in an impressive full-frame transfer of the show's original 1.33:1 television presentation. Although the series lacks the full three-dimensional depth of the feature, this image is pretty impressive. Detail is spectacular, and colors are warm and vivid. I scanned closely for edge halos and came up virtually empty. However, the presentation isn't without digital artifacting, particularly in the form of aliasing and shimmering along hard lines, especially during pans.

You'll inevitably compare the quality of this CGI animation with that of Pixar. Although the animation suffers in comparison, remember that the creators of Jimmy Neutron put this series together using common software and comparatively puny computer systems. And compared with the animation in the Jimmy Neutron feature film, this animation represents still another step down because the production for television necessitated some shortcuts. All that being said, this is some fine computer animation that's a lot of fun.

HOW'S IT SOUND?

The disc's Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track is full and active. Dialog is accurate and lively, and the low end gets a surprising workout.

WHAT ELSE IS THERE?

The disc offers a couple of extras that are fairly interesting, if a bit lackluster. The first is the original Jimmy Neutron Pilot Episode from 1998 (proving that Jimmy was actually around long before the feature film). The 13-minute episode is entitled Runaway Rocketboy. Although it has a slightly clunky, unfinished look, its characters are startlingly close in appearance to those of the eventual polished series. Jimmy launches Carl into space from his roof and is grounded by his parents. As a result, Jimmy runs away from home. This is an interesting piece, particularly for a little historical perspective.

Under Behind the Scenes, you get three very short featurettes about the making of the series. Created as interstitials for Nickelodeon, these are woefully aimed at the kiddies, but they're still entertaining. In the 1-minute How Hugh Moves, one of the animators acts out character movements. In the 1-minute Hugh's Virtual Makeover, one of the modelers examines the alteration of Hugh's look in the Time is Money episode. In the 30-second The Storyboard Artist, one of the storyboard artists presents some of his drawings.

In the Previews section, you'll find 5 minutes worth of previews for Spongebob Squarepants DVDs, The Wild Thornberries Movie, and the Tak and the Power of Juju videogame.

WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY?

Jimmy Neutron: Confusion Fusion will appeal to the kids as well as gleefully immature adults. I found myself laughing at a lot of the adult-aimed humor. Terrific image quality and a couple of okay extras deserve at least a rental.

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