Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius [2001]

Jimmy Neutron, the feature that launches Nickelodeon's attempt to create a new children's franchise, plays like a cross between Rugrats and Dexter's Laboratory in outer space. Accompanied by his cyberdog Goddard, "boy genius" James Isaac Neutron (voiced by Debi Derryberry) invents fantastic devices that work only sporadically and with decidedly mixed results. The communications satellite he makes out of his mother's toaster allows for a race of gooey, egg-shaped aliens to kidnap the adults in Jimmy's town with the intent of sacrificing the parents to their chicken-god. Converting amusement park rides into spaceships, Jimmy saves the day, despite a few false starts and misadventures. Several of the characters feel like slightly older versions of Rugrats: smart-alecky Cindy (Carolyn Lawrence) resembles Angelica; sniffling nerd Carl (Rob Paulsen), Chuckie. The most original member of the cast is Sheen (Jeff Garcia), the maladroit devotee of superhero Ultralord--a very funny spoof of cartoon fandom. The characters look more like plastic toys than human beings. Instead of the thousands of individual hairs on the heads of the realistic figures in Final Fantasy, Jimmy sports a one-piece hairdo that recalls a soft-serve ice cream cone. The animation is weightless and the acting minimal, but the often quirky story carries the limited visuals and will appeal to elementary school kids. Rated G; suitable for ages 6 and older; cartoon violence, minor gross humor. --Charles Solomon

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