Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen version on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. I expect a lot from DVDs with animated films, as they often offer the strongest visuals available. Jimmy Neutron didn’t disappoint me; the image looked absolutely spectacular.
In fact, Neutron looked so good that I suspected it might be a digital-to-digital transfer. However, I assumed incorrectly; after a consultation with Paramount, I discovered that the image actually came from the usual film-to-tape methods. Paramount outdid themselves with this one, for the picture seemed so strong that it just narrowly missed an “A+”.
Sharpness seemed immaculate. The image always remained crisp and well defined, and I saw no signs of softness or fuzziness. The film seemed tight and accurate at all times. I detected no jagged edges or moiré effects, and I also witnessed no evidence of edge enhancement. Print flaws appeared totally absent, with nary a speckle, mark or other defect in sight.
Neutron provided a dazzling palette, with an extremely broad array of tones. The DVD reproduced these wonderfully well. The colors looked bright and vivid throughout the movie; it’s a cliché, but I have to call them “eye-popping”. The hues remained tight and deep and never displayed any signs of problems. Black levels also appeared dense and solid, and shadow detail appeared appropriately heavy without excessive opacity. I felt the image of Neutron lacked that certain intangible that would earn it an “A+”, but it came very close; the movie looked spectacularly good.
While the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius didn’t quite match up with the superlative visuals, it worked quite well nonetheless. The movie featured lots of opportunities for broad and active audio, and the mix took advantage of those. Throughout the film, I heard many examples of elements that appeared from all five channels, and the sounds blended together smoothly and cleanly. Of course, the loud action sequences seemed most impressive, such as during a meteor shower. However, they didn’t offer the only positive spots, as I also felt that film provided a fine sense of general atmosphere. The environment seemed convincing but not overwhelming.
Audio quality appeared very good. Dialogue seemed natural and warm, with no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Music sounded bright and vivid, as the score and songs offered fairly solid clarity and fidelity. Effects also showed good dynamics and reproduction. They lacked distortion and seemed clean and accurate, with pretty solid low-end response as well. Bass could have been a little more prominent, but those tones still appeared deep and rich. Overall, Neutron featured a soundtrack the benefited the film.
While not a special edition release, the DVD of Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius does include a mix of extras. First we find The Making of Jimmy Neutron, a 16-minute and four-second featurette about the flick. It combines the usual mix of movie clips, behind the scenes shots, and interviews. We hear from director John A. Davis, producers Steve Oedekerk, Keith Alcorns and Albie Hecht, foley artists Sarah Monat and Robin Harlan, actors Patrick Stewart, Martin Short, Mark DeCarlo, Megan Cavanagh, Carolyn Lawrence, Rob Paulsen, Jeff Garcia, Crystal Scales, Bob Goen, and Mary Hart.
Despite - or perhaps because of - that extended roster of participants, the program offers little more than a promotional piece. Essentially we see lots of bits from the movie while he hear about the story and the characters. We watch a few seconds of the different animation stages and also get a quick glimpse into the foley studio, but the show lacks any real depth or insight.
Two music videos appear on the DVD. First we get “Leave It Up to Me” from Aaron Carter, little brother of Backstreet Boy Nick Carter. Man, could this kid seem any more smug and obnoxious? The video combines movie clips with a theme in which Carter goes on a school field trip. He rocks out in a lab and even appears in computer-animated form. Yawn.
The second video offers “Kids In America” from girl group No Secrets. I accentuate the word “girl” because all are quite young; off the top of my head, I can’t recall if all of them are under 18, but I think they are. The video actually lists their ages as we see their names! Thanks for making me feel like a perv as I watched these young hotties!
Anyway, the video provides a pretty bland affair in which the girls dance and lip-synch to their chirpy little number. I didn’t realize they still made groups that imitate the Spice Girls, but I guess this offers my proof! Annoying, both videos show identifying text - song title, act, album, etc. - in the lower left corner throughout their entire running times. That material’s fine for a few seconds at the start and finish, but it filled about a quarter of the screen and never left. That became pretty aggravating.
In addition to the theatrical trailer and teaser for Neutron, we get a collection of Promotional Spots. These start with seven “Interstitials”. Those pieces last between 56 seconds and 108 seconds for a total of 10 minutes and 36 seconds of footage. Basically these are mini-shorts that appeared on Nickelodeon prior to the movie’s release; from what I understand, these actually first started to hit the air back in February 2001. They seem quite fun and entertaining.
Next we get five “Cliffhangers”. Also aired on Nickelodeon to tout the film, these run between 65 seconds and 81 seconds for a total of five minutes and 52 seconds. While all the “Interstitials” focus on unrelated tales, the “Cliffhangers” create one longer story, and they also lead up to the beginning of the film itself. I thought that was clever, as they show how Jimmy and his robot dog Goddard end up on their early mission. The “Cliffhangers” don’t seem as entertaining as the “Interstitials”, but they’re a nice addition to the package anyway.
For DVD-ROM users, the fun continues. In addition to two weblinks, we get a collection of seven different Jimmy Neutron games. Interestingly, six of these seem inspired by the interstitials seen elsewhere on this DVD; they share the same titles and themes. Only “Light Speed Lift-Off” substitutes for “New Dog, Old Tricks”; the other six duplicate the names and themes of the shorts.
Too bad that don’t replicate the fun. Admittedly, I’m a little old for the target audience of these games, but they seem primitive and simplistic. Actually, they offer stronger graphics than most of these cheap throwaways, but they stick with basic aims and control and don’t feel very entertaining. Quantity doesn’t make up for low quality.
Although I went into Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius with fairly low expectations, I found it to offer a pretty lively and engaging little piece of work. The film suffered from no pretensions of grandeur; it just wants to provide a rollicking good time, and it generally succeeded. The DVD featured absolutely stellar picture quality along with very good sound. It didn’t include many extras, but a couple of good pieces appeared. Overall, Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius should earn a viewing for families who want to watch something light and innocuous but still clever and entertaining.