Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
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Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius is a 2001 American computer-animated science fiction comedy film produced by Nickelodeon Movies, O Entertainment and DNA Productions, and distributed by Paramount Pictures. The film was directed by John A. Davis and written by Davis and producer Steve Oedekerk. Its voice cast includes Debi Derryberry, Patrick Stewart, Martin Short, Rob Paulsen and Jeffrey Garcia. The film follows the title character, a schoolboy with super-genius powers, who must save all of the parents of the world from a race of egg-like aliens known as the Yolkians.
|Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John A. Davis|
|Music by||John Debney|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$103 million|
The idea for Jimmy Neutron was first created by Davis in the 1980s, in which he wrote a script for a short film titled Runaway Rocketboy and starring a prototype character for Jimmy named Johnny Quasar. After coming across the abandoned script several years later, Davis decided that it would be a good idea to revisit it and retool it as a computer-animated short and potential TV series. A 40-second demo was animated using LightWave 3D and gained popularity at the 1995 SIGGRAPH convention where it was shown off, grabbing the attention of Oedekerk and leading DNA Productions to develop an extended TV Pilot. After a successful pitch to Nickelodeon, a 13-minute-long TV episode was developed, and Nickelodeon, impressed with both the character and the 3D technology, raised the possibility making both a TV series and a full-length feature film. Davis, in turn, suggested that the film be made first, so that the development team could create the assets at theatrical quality and reuse them in the TV series. Production officially began in early 2000, and was completed in roughly 24 months, with DNA Productions considerably raising its staff count and expanding its studio space. Animation was done entirely using commercial software, including LightWave and project:messiah.
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius was released on December 21, 2001. Backed by a strong pre-release campaign, the film was a box office success, grossing $103 million worldwide. This film along with Shrek and Monsters, Inc. were nominated for the inaugural Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2001, ultimately losing to Shrek. It was the only animated Nickelodeon film to ever be nominated in that category for nearly a decade until Rango (2011) was nominated and won.
The film served as an introduction to the Nickelodeon animated television series called The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, which premiered on July 20, 2002 and ended on November 25, 2006. Eight years later, another spin-off series called Planet Sheen was produced, focusing on Jimmy's friend Sheen Estevez. This series premiered on October 2, 2010 and ended on February 15, 2013.
Jimmy Neutron, a genius 11-year-old boy, lives in Retroville with his parents, Judy and Hugh, and his robot dog, Goddard. Jimmy's friends are overweight Carl Wheezer and hyperactive Sheen Estevez, and he has a long-standing rivalry with his intelligent classmate, Cindy Vortex, who teases him for his small stature. After Jimmy launches a communications satellite into space in hopes to contact alien life, he crashes his makeshift rocket into his house's roof, upsetting his mother. When Jimmy, Carl and Sheen learn of the opening of Retroland, an amusement park, popular kid Nick Dean convinces the boys to sneak out and attend. Jimmy attempts to persuade his mother to go, but she refuses. After Jimmy's jetpack accidentally starts a fire in the house, Judy grounds him. Taking Nick's advice, Jimmy uses his shrink ray invention to sneak out and meets Carl and Sheen at Retroland for a night of fun.
Meanwhile, Jimmy's satellite is intercepted by the Yolkians, a race of egg-like aliens from the planet Yolkus. Their leader, King Goobot views Jimmy's message and takes notice of a picture featuring his parents, declaring his search complete. The Yolkians arrive on Earth and abduct all the adults in Retroville. As their ships return to space, Jimmy, Carl and Sheen mistake their departure for a shooting star, prompting Jimmy to wish their parents were gone. The next morning, all the children notice the parents are missing and party recklessly. The following day, the children are miserable and realize they need their parents. Jimmy learns that his satellite has been found and deduces the parents have been abducted. He enlists the children to create rocket ships out of Retroland's rides and they blast off into space after their families.
After braving a meteor shower and camping on an astroid, Jimmy and company eventually reach Yolkus and find the parents with mind control devices attached to their heads. They are captured by Goobot, who reveals to the children that Jimmy had led them directly to Earth to take their parents, whom the Yolkians intend to sacrifice to their god, Poultra. Jimmy is separated from Goddard by Goobot's brother and assistant, Ooblar, and is locked in a dungeon with the rest of the children. Taking pity on Jimmy, Cindy confesses she and the rest of the children need Jimmy and encourages him to help them escape. Using a cellphone owned by Cindy's friend, Libby Folfax, Jimmy contacts Goddard, who escapes from Ooblar and breaks the children out.
Jimmy and company reach the Yolkian's colosseum where a giant egg is hatched, releasing Poultra, a gigantic three-eyed chicken. As Goobot arranges the parents to be eaten using a mind control remote, Jimmy rallies the children to storm the colosseum and battle the guards while Sheen retrieves an escape vessel, which knocks Poultra on the head upon his return. Jimmy steals the remote from Goobot and the children escape Yolkus with the parents. Goobot arranges a fleet to pursue them, which is all destroyed when the children fly their ship through the sun, save for Goobot's vessel. When Goobot and Ooblar tease Jimmy for his short size, Jimmy charges at Goobot's ship with Goddard in a flying bike form and uses his shrink ray to enlarge himself into the size of a planet. He then blows Goobot's vessel away into an astroid, destroying it. Goobot survives and vows revenge. On the return trip to Earth, Jimmy reconciles with his parents, admitting that despite his intelligence, he still depends on them.
- Debi Derryberry as Jimmy Neutron
- Patrick Stewart as King Goobot V
- Carolyn Lawrence as Cindy Vortex
- Rob Paulsen as Carl Wheezer/Mr. and Mrs. Wheezer (Credited as Carl’s Mom and Dad)
- Jeffrey Garcia as Sheen Estevez
- Crystal Scales as Libby Folfax
- Martin Short as Ooblar
- Frank Welker as Goddard (uncredited)/Poultra
- Candi Milo as Nick Dean/Britney/PJ
- Megan Cavanagh as Judy Neutron (Credited as Mom)/VOX/Mrs. Vortex (Credited as Cindy's Mom)
- Mark DeCarlo as Hugh Neutron (Credited as Dad)/Pilot/Arena Guard/Mr. Vortex (Credited as Cindy's Dad)
- Carlos Alazraqui as Mr. Estevez (Credited as Sheen’s Dad)
- Kimberly Brooks as Zachery/Reporter/Angie
- Andrea Martin as Ms. Winfred Fowl (Credited as Ms. Fowl)
- Billy West as Bobby's Twin Brother/Butch/Old Man Johnson/Robobarber
- West also did various other voices, according to the film's closing credits.
- Bob Goen and Mary Hart as Yokian newscasters
- Dee Bradley Baker as Norad Officer
- Greg Eagles as Mr. Folfax (uncredited)
- David L. Lander as Yokian Guard/Gus
- Jim Cummings as Ultra Lord/Mission Control/General Bob
- Keith Alcorn as Bobby/Control Yokian
The idea for a series about a boy with super-genius powers was first conceived in the 1980s by John A. Davis, who scripted and storyboarded a short narrative titled Runaway Rocketboy, centering around a character named Johnny Quasar (inspired by a facetious nickname that his Summer co-workers had coined for him in his youth who builds a rocket ship and runs away from his parents. Davis stated in an episode of the Nickelodeon Animation Podcast that he initially wrote the concept with the intention of creating it as a live-action film with special effects and matte shots, even going so far as to apply to receive a grant in order to fund the project, but found that getting such an investment was difficult since the film wasn't educational or informative. The idea laid dormant for several years until Davis came across the abandoned script while in the process of moving. Around the same time, Davis' Dallas-based studio, DNA Productions, had just began experimenting with the use of computer animation after obtaining copies of LightWave 3D. In turn, Davis realized that the film would be fitting as a CG film, since all of the science fiction set pieces could be entirely modeled in 3D.
Davis, alongside DNA co-founder Keith Alcorn, created a 40-second proof-of-concept demo film which depicted Johnny and his robot dog, Goddard, flying through an asteroid belt and greeting the viewers. Simultaneously, Davis and Alcorn worked to create a story bible outlining a potential television series. The demo short was shown off in 1995 at the SIGGRAPH CG convention, where it was entered into a competition for LightWave films. The demo quickly garnered notability in the computer animation industry, receiving frequent press coverage in magazines and winning two "Wavey" awards- one for Best Character Animation and another for Best in Show. Among people who caught wind of the film was Steve Oedekerk, the founder of O Entertainment, who saw a still shot of Johnny and Goddard in a CGI magazine. Oedekerk, a strong backer of computer animation, was impressed by the characters' designs – he stated in an interview that the image particularly stood out to him because it "seemed fun" compared to the mostly-photorealistic work being done with computer animation at the time. He cold-called Davis requesting to see a tape of the full short. After watching the demo, as well as seeing the show bible which Davis and Alcorn had developed, Oedekerk expressed interest in helping to pitch their concept to different networks.
After teaming up with O Entertainment, DNA Productions began working on developing a full-length episode for a TV series, titled The Adventures of Johnny Quasar, writing an expanded version of the original Runaway Rocket story and tweaking aspects of Johnny's design to make him look more like a child. In Fall 1995, the idea was pitched to Nickelodeon, who expressed immediate interest in the idea. Albie Hecht, the then-president of Nick, was particularly impressed- coining him to be "half Bart Simpson and half Albert Einstein," he strongly praised Johnny's blended personality as an adventurous and intelligent character and one grounded in the reality of childhood, which, according to him, made him "the perfect Nick kid." Following positive reception, Nickelodeon commissioned for a 13-minute pilot episode to be created. After several years of going through the review process, the episode began production in late 1997, and was completed in 1998. The name "Johnny Quasar" was changed at the request of Nickelodeon, who did not want the character to be confused with similarly-named ones such as Jonny Quest and Captain Quazar, so Davis brainstormed other character names while walking his dog around the neighborhood block, eventually coming up with the final name, "Jimmy Neutron."
After the pilot was completed, Nickelodeon executives, who were impressed by the pilot and still enthusiastic about the show's potential, raised the prospect of creating a theatrical film to accompany the TV series, much to the surprise of Davis and his team at DNA. During the initial pitch to Nickelodeon, Oedekerk had highlighted the idea that using computer animation would allow the same models and assets to be reused between both a film and a TV show, an idea which Nick held strong faith in. Davis further suggested that the feature film be created first, since the characters being modeled could be created at a higher quality than they would have with a TV budget. Although Nick was worried that it would be more difficult to attract a movie-going audience without the TV show to build an install base for the series, these concerns were answered with a series of short TV interstitials which would begin airing in order to build up hype for the upcoming film.
With a budget of roughly $30 million, production of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius was greenlit in Fall 1999, and work began on a script for the film. Production officially started in February 2000 under the direction of Davis. In order to speed up the pace of work for a feature film, DNA's staff count was considerably increased from 30 to around 150 employees, and the studio's workspace was also reformed in order to fit such a team of filmmakers. The film was completed in 24 months- roughly half that in which most other CGI films were completed.
The screenplay for Jimmy Neutron was written by Davis and Oedekerk, as well as Rugrats show-writers David Weiss and J. David Stem. In creating the many ideas in Jimmy Neutron, Davis and Oedekerk thought back to their childhoods, trying to think about "what a kid would create if he had the ability to create any kind of gadget." The film was largely inspired by Davis' own love of science fiction which he had since childhood, drawing influence from various sources including The Thunderbirds and Ray Harryhausen's stop motion work. Oedekerk's 6-year-old daughter, Zoe, came up with the idea for "burp soda," which ultimately appeared in the movie as one of Jimmy's many inventions. According to Davis, the Ultralord-obsessed Sheen Esteves was inspired by Davis' own love of collecting. Sheen was initially intended to be Japanese, as he was named after the nickname of a Japanese employee who had worked for Davis, but the filmmaking team had trouble finding a good Japanese voice actor. Incidentally, they changed the character's nationality to Mexican after opening the role to a broader category and eventually settling on Mexican stand-up comic Jeff Garcia.
Jimmy Neutron was the first computer animated film to be created entirely using commercial animation programs rather than proprietary software, with most animation done using both Lightwave and project:messiah. Characters were first modeled in Lightwave, after which they were rigged and animated in Messiah. Texture painting was done via Adobe Photoshop, while compositing work was completed in Maya Fusion. In addition to serving as executive producer, Alcorn was the film's lead character designer, and created actively simplistic and cartoonish designs in order to avoid overcomplicating production. To animate crowd scenes, methods of simplification were used to make animation less time-consuming- characters that were farther from the camera less articulation, and animators would duplicate the same characters, offset them to different areas, and change their body parts to differentiate them. One particular scene shows a crowd of 6000 Yolkians, each of which uses one of 30 distinct animation loops.
According to Davis, the character models were intentionally given a "sculpted, graphic look," both to avoid making them look overly realistic and to circumvent the prospect of having to deal with simulating cloth or hair. The over-the-top character designs, in turn, influenced the film world's aesthetic (e.g. cars were modeled to be able to fit the characters' stylistically large heads). Off-the-shelf shaders were favored over ones which created more photorealistic lighting in order to maintain a cartoonish appearance throughout.
Jimmy Neutron was played by female voice actor Debi Derryberry, who would continue to play the character in the TV series. The film was Derryberry's biggest acting role at the time, as previously she had mostly provided minor roles in films and TV shows.
The movie soundtrack was released by Zomba Music, Jive Records, and Nick Records on November 20, 2001, a month prior to the film's release. It includes covers of DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince's "Parents Just Don't Understand", Thomas Dolby's "She Blinded Me With Science" , and Kim Wilde's "Kids In America".
|1.||"Leave It Up to Me"||Aaron Carter||2:59|
|2.||"Pop" (Deep Dish Cha-Ching Remix)||*NSYNC||4:13|
|3.||"Parents Just Don't Understand"||Lil' Romeo, Nick Cannon, and 3LW||3:55|
|5.||"He Blinded Me with Science"||Melissa Lefton||3:15|
|6.||"A.C.'s Alien Nation"||Aaron Carter||3:23|
|7.||"Kids in America"||No Secrets||3:07|
|8.||"The Answer to Our Life"||Backstreet Boys||3:17|
|9.||"The Chicken Dance"||Werner Thomas||1:32|
|10.||"I Can Count on You"||True Vibe||3:46|
|11.||"We Got the Beat"||The Go-Go's||2:31|
|12.||"Go Jimmy Jimmy"||Aaron Carter||2:39|
|13.||"Parents Just Don't Understand (Bonux Mix)"||Lil' Romeo, 3LW, and Nick Cannon||3:52|
|14.||"Blitzkrieg Bop"||The Ramones||2:12|
|15.||"Jimmy Neutron Theme"||Bowling for Soup||2:08|
|1.||"Jimmy Neutron Theme"||Bowling for Soup||2:08|
|2.||"Leave It Up to Me"||Aaron Carter||2:59|
|3.||"Pop" (Deep Dish Cha-Ching Remix)||*NSYNC||4:13|
|4.||"Parents Just Don't Understand"||Lil' Romeo, 3LW, and Nick Cannon||3:55|
|6.||"He Blinded Me With Science"||Melissa Lefton and The Matrix||3:15|
|7.||"A.C.'s Alien Nation"||Aaron Carter||3:23|
|8.||"Kids in America"||No Secrets||3:07|
|9.||"The Answer to Our Life"||Backstreet Boys||3:17|
|10.||"The Chicken Dance"||Werner Thomas||1:32|
|11.||"I Can Count on You"||True Vibe||3:46|
|12.||"We Got the Beat"||The Go-Go's||2:31|
|13.||"Go Jimmy Jimmy"||Aaron Carter||2:39|
|14.||"Parents Just Don't Understand (Bonux Mix)"||Lil' Romeo, 3LW, and Nick Cannon||3:52|
|15.||"Blitzkrieg Bop"||The Ramones||2:12|
|18.||"Jimmy's Rocket Machine"||1:20|
|21.||"The Plan (Part 1)"||0:37|
|22.||"The Plan (Part 2)"||0:17|
|25.||"RetroLand Theme Park!"||0:40|
|26.||"Oyster & Diamond"||0:34|
|27.||"Alien Space Craft/Jimmy's Message"||3:02|
|35.||"Say Goodbye/Angry Mob & 75/Launch"||7:07|
|36.||"Beauty of Space/Meteor"||2:25|
|37.||"The Alien Planet"||1:12|
|39.||"King Goobot's Shock"||0:20|
|40.||"Poultra: God of Wrath (Part 1)"||0:10|
|41.||"Poultra: God of Wrath (Part 2)"||0:20|
|43.||"Cindy & Jimmy"||1:34|
|44.||"Ooblar's Danger/Cell Dog Phone/Rescue"||3:09|
|46.||"Bring on the Humans"||0:47|
|50.||"Jimmy to the Rescue"||2:02|
|51.||"Escape from the Planet/The Big Chase"||2:42|
|52.||"Jimmy Is the Winner/Apologize"||2:15|
Movie Theatrical release
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius was released on VHS and DVD by Paramount Home Entertainment on July 2, 2002. It was re-released on DVD on June 22, 2011 and re-released again on DVD on April 25, 2017. The film has yet to be released on Blu-ray.
These shorts were used to promote the film. They have all been released on the official Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius DVD release of the film. All of the inventions in each short were seen again at some point on the television series (except for the Pain-Transference helmet). Clips from similar versions of these shorts, along with clips from the unaired "Runaway Rocketboy" pilot, appeared in the teaser trailer for Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. The biggest difference between the clips seen in the trailer and the original shorts is that Jimmy wears the white and red striped shirt he wore in the pilot, rather than his trademark shirt.
|"Carl Squared"||Carl asks Jimmy lots of questions when he clones himself. The cloning machine is seen again in "Send in the Clones" and "The Trouble with Clones".|
|"Calling All Aliens" (Parts 1-5)||Jimmy receives a message, thinking that it is from aliens. But when he says "school Goddard", he gets teleported to school. He tries several attempts to try to communicate with the aliens. Aliens are also mentioned in Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. It serves as the prologue to the movie.|
|"Cookie Time"||Jimmy has a remote control that controls time. He asks his mom for a cookie and gets it. He keeps rewinding but Goddard bites the remote and sends them back to the prehistoric era. The remote is seen again in "Sorry, Wrong Era".|
|"Hyper Corn"||Jimmy invents his HyperCube, to store infinite items in one small place. But, it is dinner time and they are having creamed corn, which Jimmy hides in his Hyper Cube. After Jimmy's dad thinks it is a brain teaser puzzle and breaks it, Jimmy finds out that he likes it after all. The Hyper Cube makes appearances in the episodes "Hypno Birthday to You" and "Holly Jolly Jimmy", although it looks different from in the original short.|
|"New Dog, Old Tricks"||Jimmy introduces his robotic dog, Goddard, to Cindy and her dog, Humphrey, who Cindy says is the best dog in Retroville. However, after showing each other new tricks, Goddard wins the argument. Humphrey makes brief cameos in other episodes. Note: A clip from a slightly different version of this short appeared in the original theatrical trailer for Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. This version ends with Goddard putting himself back together after Jimmy says, "I can fix that."|
|"Pain Pain Go Away"||Jimmy visits Dr. Pane, the dentist, using his Pain-Transference Helmet to transfer the pain to Cindy. He gets in trouble, though, when Cindy snatches the helmet the next day and retaliates by injuring herself and sending the pain to Jimmy.|
|"Sea Minus"||Jimmy accidentally uses his Matter Transporter to move the Neutron's House underwater! The Matter Transporter is seen again in "My Son, the Hamster".|
|"Ultralord vs. The Squirrels"||Sheen gets his new Ultralord Action Figure in a tree. Jimmy must get it back with his Hypno Ray invention to keep it away from the squirrels. The Hypno Ray is seen again in "Hypno Birthday to You". Note: A clip from a slightly different version of this short appeared in the original theatrical trailer for Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. In the trailer version, the scenes take place in the park, rather than in Jimmy's backyard, while Sheen is replaced by Nick Dean.|
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius received generally positive reviews from critics and audiences. The film scored a 75% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critics' consensus reads: "What Jimmy Neutron lacks in computer animation, it makes up for in charm and cleverness." According to Metacritic, the film also scored 65/100, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Rita Kempley of Washington Post praised the film, saying that "this little charmer both celebrates and kids the corny conventions of family sitcoms". Nell Minow of Common Sense Media enjoyed the "stylish 3-D computer animation, good characters", giving the film 3 out of 5 stars. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave this film a B+, calling it "a lickety-split, madly packed, roller-coaster entertainment that might almost have been designed to make you scared of how much smarter your kids are than you". Paul Tatara of CNN.com called the film "the most delightfully original children's film of 2001". Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a 3/4 score, saying that "it doesn't have the little in-jokes that make Shrek and Monsters, Inc. fun for grown-ups. But adults who appreciate the art of animation may enjoy the look of the picture".
The film was financially successful, bringing in $13,833,228 on its opening weekend for an average of $4,407 from 3,139 theaters, and ended up with a total of $80,936,232 domestically, and the film did better overseas bringing in $22,056,304 which made a total of $102,992,536 worldwide. It had a budget of roughly $30 million. It is one of only twelve feature films to be released in over 3,000 theaters and still improve on its box office performance in its second weekend, increasing 8.7% from $13,832,786 to $15,035,649.
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius was nominated for the first Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, losing to Shrek. It was the first release from Nickelodeon Movies to receive an Academy Award nomination.
Cancelled sequel and possible reboot film plans
In February 2002, a sequel was reported in development for a Summer 2004 release. Producer Albie Hecht reported to The Los Angeles Times that the sequel "would be made on the same budget as the first, but with a new batch of inventions and adventures in Jimmy's town of Retroville." In June 2002, it was reported that Kate Boutilier had made a deal to write a sequel to the film. However, the film was later cancelled as the writers could not agree on a story and Alcorn later stated in an interview that "once the TV series came out, there wasn't a lot of incentive to make a movie when fans could simply watch Jimmy Neutron for free at home."
When asked about a reboot in 2020, Rob Paulsen stated "Well, I've got to tell you, man. I go all over the world when we don't have the coronavirus, and people love Carl. They love Carl. I don't think it would be a bad thing at all to reboot Jimmy Neutron. I think that's one of those shows that a lot of people would love to see again. It was very good. Really smart. That wouldn't surprise me."
Television series and spin-off
Jimmy Neutron was originally pitched to Nickelodeon as a television series, with executives opting for a feature film to introduce the character to the general public before launching the show. The show, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, ran from July 2002 to November 2006. Eight years later, a spin-off titled Planet Sheen, focusing on Sheen Estevez, ran from October 2, 2010 to February 15, 2013.
Genius, Sheenius or Inbetweenius
An event that aired on May 19, 2007, Nickelodeon rehired Debi Derryberry, Jeffrey Garcia and Rob Paulsen to return for a special audio commentary version of the film that features their animated counterparts' silhouettes, spoofing Mystery Science Theater 3000.
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