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Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius Reviews

Dexter's Laboratory, but without the satire. This computer-animated children's feature — based on a character introduced to its target audience in a series of Nickelodeon network interstitials designed to create awareness for the yet-to-be-made film — is just as inventive as its gadgeteering hero, though a bit sugary in terms of family-film lesson-giving. Tall-haired eight-year-old James Isaac Neutron (voice of Debi Derryberry) lives in the 'burbs, goes to elementary school and builds personal rocket-jets that look like a cross between WWII Messerschmidts and go-carts. He does this so that he can, say, launch a communications satellite made from a toaster in order to reply to an apparent alien transmission. No one finds this unusual — mom and dad (Megan Cavanagh, Mark DeCarlo), who look uncannily like actress Christine Baranski and Jefferson Airplane's Paul Kantner, simply remind him not to play with rockets. And as for aliens, doesn't he know better than to talk to strangers? Jimmy's classmates — smart, pony-tailed Cindy (Carolyn Lawrence); fat, asthmatic Carl (Rob Paulsen); tough-kid Nick (Candi Milo); and dim, excitable Sheen (Jeff Garcia) — both encourage and make fun of his shrink rays, bubble transports and other inventions that don't quite work as they're supposed to: When Jimmy tells Goddard the robo-dog to play dead, the mechanical pooch explodes. On the same night that Jimmy, Carl and Sheen sneak out to an amusement park's hugely hyped grand opening, the alien Yokians respond to Jimmy's message and kidnap all of the town's adults and plan to feed them to their chicken-god. The kids, who are led to believe that their parents have suddenly left for Florida, indulge in an orgy of food fights, hot-dog bingeing and jet-skiing through flooded school corridors. Jimmy soon learns of the adults' fate and the kids resolve to kick alien butt; in the film's best visual, they fly an armada of converted amusement-park rides to confront the aliens on their own planet. Jimmy Neutron originated as Johnny Quasar, the star of a 40-second short made for a 1995 computer-graphics festival; the movie is similarly computer generated, but in the traditional "big-foot" cartoon style that recalls nothing so much as a big, bold-colored children's book. Grownups who grew up on The Jetsons and children who, like the movie's heroes, aren't yet nine years old, should enjoy this film. Older kids can check out a dark-side version in the similar, cult-hit comic Barry Ween: Boy Genius.