A smart, original eulogization to childhood with vivacious animation, enthused scoring, a sci-fi/kids-gone-wild balance, weighty themes of parental dynamics, and tonal capture of its demographic’s spirit, Nick’s boy genius tale is a mega-charming kids blockbuster. 8.5/10.
Plot Synopsis: A 10-year-old boy and his robot dog’s story is told – battling evil, rescuing his parents, saving the Earth – and returning home in time for dinner. Jimmy’s always inventing gadgets to make his life in Retroville more interesting. A boy genius with real kid emotions, JN fantasizes about life on his own. But when the parents of his hometown are kidnapped by invading alien species, he quickly discovers that things aren’t so great when they’re gone.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
Official CLC Review
Boy Genius. 2001’s Jimmy Neutron launched a childhood sensation unlike the world had seen for a long time, cementing Nickelodeon’s franchise eventually complete with everything from a TV series to mega-merchandising to Universal Studios theme park attractions. The aptly-titled film follows a 10-year-old trying to balance the pressures of everyday-childhood/growing up with a massive brain-fueled predisposition for science and creating the most impressive inventions and gadgets you’ve ever seen, and the (extremely-original) idea works like a charm given an equally-clever worthy translation to film. A smart, original eulogization to childhood with vivacious animation, enthused scoring, a sci-fi/kids-gone-wild balance, weighty themes of parental dynamics, and tonal capture of the spirit and innocent vibrancy of children, Nick’s boy genius tale is a dazzlingly-charming kids’ movie – despite a strange villain.
The animation, soundtrack, and childhood-celebratory concept/tone. Perhaps the biggest thing Neutron delivers is that is the ultimate kids’ movie – feeling like it was crafted and made by kids, for kids. Vivacious in bright, energy-infused animation style with textural work holding up well to this day and way ahead-of-its-time, the film is a treat to look at – something a vast number of 2000’s-animated works cannot say. The visual childlike wonder is mirrored by a fantastic soundtrack steeped in bubble-gum 2000’s pop from top-billed acts like NSYNC and No Secrets’ ultra-catchy ballad “Kids in America”, while also working in emotion-laden light orchestral themes and action-thumps to deliver a sensational array for the ears too – best soundtrack I’ve ever heard in a kids’ movie. The tone feels like a celebration of childhood and simpler times, with absolutely brilliant ideas like showing what would happen in a kid-ran society without adults, sneaking out to amusements parks, and using them as rockets into outer-space also balancing the idea with the bonkers possibilities and scale opened up by its boy genius addition with equally-snappy pacing for a nostalgic rush of a time.
The characters and tonal mix. Anchoring and translating this billion-dollar kids’ idea with massive franchise potential to screen is a plucky cast of diverse characters skillfully written to cover the full gamut of childhood tropes. From coming-of-age boy genius Jimmy to wise-cracking scornful Cindy to lovable llama-obsessed dweeb Carl to superhero geek Sheen to rap-girl Libby to cool-guy Nick, the characters are rich – and very-well voice-acted to bring to life. The tonal mix is also impressive for a kids’ movie – working in sci-fi with even some edge and pseudo-horror in parts including a slasher-like bit in the abduction of parents and scary story-telling reference to Blair Witch Project for adults (amazing Easter Egg), power-driven triumphant childhood celebration, comedy, and a pinch of drama/sweet sentiment too in its smart parental-need/checks-and-balances themes in homage to the love and symbiosis of family.
The only flaw, though it is a big one (literally) is Poltra. One of, if not perhaps the *worst* movie monster of All-Time the mega-chicken big bad is one of the most imbecilic antagonists ever concocted. It’s really sad seeing as how it’s so ridiculous and cringeworthy, it’s impossible to take seriously and holds the film back from equal greatness in its back-half as its flawless first half, and Jimmy and his pals deserved a far better-written villain. The Yolkians aren’t very frightening or intimidating either, but I would’ve wholeheartedly taken them as the villain rather than a building-sized chicken. Sigh.
Overall though, this boy genius tale is a dazzlingly-charming kids’ movie and summer blockbuster. Wildly original with vivacious animation, enthused scoring, a sci-fi/kids-gone-wild balance, and a tonal capture of the spirit and innocent vibrancy of childhood, despite a poor villain, it is an iconic part of 2000’s kid culture. Spawning a (near)-equally great TV series leading to nostalgic exaltation amongst the greats of Nickelodeon’s reign, the movie that started it all deserves every bit of fame and fortune it got after. Bravo, Nick.
Official CLC Score: 8.5/10