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'Jimmy Neutron' Could Use Some Inventiveness

"Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" has so many bright colors and whirring parts that you wish it were either on your Christmas tree or beneath it. Whether you want something this shiny and shrink-wrapped on a movie screen is a whole other issue and, as is customary with such things, may depend on how old you are.

Digitally animated in the manner of 1950s puppet shows (Anyone out there old enough to remember "Rootie Kazootie"?), "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" is a spawn of the Nickelodeon cable network. Usually, this is good news, because so much of the animated fare on Nickelodeon achieves the difficult but welcome equipoise of kid-friendly bounce and crafty humor that keeps the grown-ups near the TV set (whether kids want them there or not). This time, however, the balance is, in many ways, out of whack, favoring the little ones, leaving the rest of us fidgeting and sulky.

Jimmy (voiced by Debi Derryberry) is a 10-year-old whose enlarged head is capacious enough to contain an overactive, overreaching brain and sport a voluminous spit curl that Ace Ventura would covet. Indeed, Jimmy, with his constant sugar rush, brash geekiness and annoying flair for self-dramatizing platitude, could be Ace's younger, smarter brother--no accident, because Steve Oedekerk, who wrote both "Ace Ventura" movies, helped produce and write this one. As with all self-absorbed scientists of far-reaching ambition, Jimmy doesn't give much thought to the consequences of rocketing into the stratosphere past Air Force radar, rearranging his teacher's molecules or making contact with extraterrestrials. The last really gets him into trouble when the Yokians, a race of wicked aliens, are lured to Jimmy's hometown of Retroville, where they intend to kidnap all the adults and whisk them to their planet.

At first, it's party time for Retroville's parentless schoolchildren, all of whom believe as much in the Nickelodeon "kids rule" gospel as their young audience. But after all the rules against eating too much junk and staying up too late are properly abused, Jimmy and his classmates feel the need to seek adult guidance. So they fly through space in search of their parents, who are in the Yokians' clammy clutches, mind-controlled and doomed to be lunch for a giant chicken.

The movie's clatter and whiz-bang suggests more humor than there actually is, although the tension between Jimmy and his female bete noire Cindy Vortex (Candi Milo) is thorny enough to strike some sparks among the pastels. Otherwise, there's barely more invention in the animation than in the concept.

Gene Seymour is a film critic for Newsday, a Tribune company.

*

MPAA rating: G. Times guidelines: Action may get a little hectic for more sensitive younger children.

'Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius'

Debi Derryberry...Jimmy Neutron

Patrick Stewart...King Goobot

Martin Short...Ooblar

Andrea Martin...Miss Fowl

Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present an O Entertainment and Nickleodeon production, released by Paramount Pictures. Director John A. Davis. Producers Steve Oedekerk, John A. Davis, Albie Hecht. Executive producers Julia Pistor, Keith Alcorn. Screenplay by John A. Davis and David N. Weiss & J. David Stem and Steve Oedekerk, story by John A. Davis and Steve Oedekerk. Music John Debney. Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes.

In general release.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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