By JOHN CARTER JR
Tiger Media Network
Nickelodeon was and is among one of my favorite childhood brands or channels. While I was more of a Cartoon Network kid, Nick always had some content that stayed close to my heart. “Fairly Odd Parents,” “My Life as a Teenage Robot,” “Spongebob Squarepants,” “Rugrats,” and “Danny Phantom” all stood out in my memory for being great experiences. That being said, there was one series that was always something I’d come back to: “Jimmy Neutron,” specifically the “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” original film.
The film’s cast included not only some well-known voice actors but some better-known for live-action roles. Debi Derryberry, Rob Paulsen, Frank Welker, Candi Milo, Mark DeCarlo, and Jim Cummings are among the standout performances by more traditional voice actors. The cast also includes Patrick Stewart, portraying the main antagonist, along with Martin Short and Andrea Martin of “Only Murders In the Building” fame.
“Jimmy Neutron” is known for its modern memes and unique CGI-based art design. This can be seen in the multitude of Hugh Neutron or Carl Wheezer memes on the internet. The unique world of Retroville has many well-designed and colorful locations for the character to explore. The Candy Bar, The School, Jimmy’s Lab, and Retroland are all iconic Jimmy Neutron locations. The Yolkians’ ship and home planet are particularly special because of the movie. Characters like Sheen, Carl, Hugh, Cindy, Libby, Judy, Goddard, and, of course, Jimmy made their debut in this colorful film. With all of that into account what makes “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” stand out as among the best Nickelodeon has to offer is the heart of this film and a narrative that spills over into the subsequent television series. In a similar vein to “Fairly OddParents School’s Out!: The Musical”, this film gives an image of what would happen to children if their parents suddenly disappeared.
There are a few lessons that were apparent to me as a kid when watching the film. The first was how the film laid out the importance of friendship, resilience, and determination for its young audience. It showed that after losing their parents, while at first excited at the prospect of being able to do whatever they wanted, They both missed and needed their parents. So led by Jimmy, the children of Retroville not only discover that their parents were abducted by aliens but also hatch a plan in order to go and rescue them. Through the experience the kids bond and are able to relate to their feelings about losing their parents.
The second major theme that I found important in the film was the importance healthy familial bonds had on children. As an adult, it is something that I find interesting when looking back at old cartoons like this. The writers found an important message in conveying the significance of a relationship or bond a parent has with a child. For many growing up who have more positive than negative experiences with their parents, suddenly having your parents disappear would be majorly traumatic. In short, it essentially tells us not to take for granted the positive figures in our lives. For those without good relationships with their parents, the film expresses what normal healthy bonds with parents should look like at the very least from a younger child’s perspective.
While “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” has delightful aesthetics, meme-worthy moments, strange sci-fi elements, and a delicious color palette, its most important quality comes out in the form of the lessons it teaches. These lessons are about the bonds we make with our friends and the ones that we make with our parents or adults we had positive relationships with growing up. Through the film’s excellent cast, world-building, and art design it stays as one of Nickelodeon’s finest series. With a recent resurgence of interest in the original series, movie, and its characters (like with Jimmy Neutron characters appearing in video games such as “Nickelodeon All-Stars Brawl 1 and 2” or “Nickelodeon Kart Racing”) I am hopeful to see more of Jimmy Neutron in the future.