Jimmy, the Boy Wonder (1966)

Genres - Children's/Family, Fantasy  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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At various points in his career, exploitation director Herschell Gordon Lewis took on films for flat fees from outside interests, then washed his hands of the results. Jimmy, the Boy Wonder is one of these mercenary productions, a children's musical that was financed by a producer who wanted a wholesome starring vehicle for his wife (Nancy Jo Berg) that could play the then-profitable kiddie matinee circuit. Though its theme of magical time alteration is quizzically psychedelic in tone, the film's content is indeed suitable for children, a rarity for Lewis, who normally filled his pictures with ludicrous amounts of violence to draw audiences. Unfortunately, Jimmy, the Boy Wonder is crafted as crudely as anything from this director's oeuvre, resulting in a crass, slapdash kid pic that undoubtedly led to restlessness and boredom in children and angry parents at the box office arguing about refunds. Dennis Jones is the most unsuitable child performer ever forced in front of the camera, unable to sing in tune, recite his lines without mumbling, or stop fidgeting long enough for a take to be completed. The attractive (yet matronly) Berg is naturally enthusiastic in her only known screen role, as is villain David Blight Jr., who leaps about the set in a loud plaid sports jacket with all the subtlety of the Hamburglar. Though the songs are uniformly bad, the worst crime of all is the time-padding addition of a lengthy foreign cartoon about a boy who employs an enchanted globe and the magic of goodness to battle against an evil witch, dubbed into English with Lewis himself providing the voices for several characters. The shoddy offhandedness of the dubbing is amazing, as characters' mouths are completely out of sync with the soundtrack, often to the point that the action has already moved on while dialogue is still being spoken. Jimmy, the Boy Wonder could be entertaining for bad movie devotees, but the level of cynicism evident in the creation of junk like this for children might leave some feeling depressed.