Jimmy, The Boy Wonder
Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Nancy Jo Berg, Dennis Jones, David Blight Jr.
What better choice to direct a fantasy musical for the
whole family than splatter king Herschell Gordon Lewis, director of
cult movies like Blood Feast and 2000 Maniacs?
That is, if the family you are thinking of has the name of Manson or
Yes, it's true - Lewis didn't just direct ultra gory movies and nudie
but he also found time to direct two family movies, Santa Visits
The Magic Land Of Mother Goose and the movie being reviewed
The Boy Wonder. An odd change of pace for an exploitation
I think you'd agree, and that's what made me so curious to see how
would direct a kiddie movie.
Now, there's no way I ever thought this movie would be
- that is, genuinely good. Seeing some of Lewis' other movies, I had an
idea that here he'd once again be saddled with a very low budget,
actors, and a ridiculous script. So I thought that at the least, there
would be a lame little movie, but one not without a few chuckles. Maybe
even hokey enough to recommend as an unintentional comedy for when you
want something a little different. After watching it, I can certainly
it had enough unintended laughs to recommend it just on that level. But
the movie is much more than hilariously bad, offering much more. All
the movie, you'll be constantly dropping your jaw at what you see.
drop your jaw with many incomprehensible, "What the hell?!?" moments,
you see elements that you'd never think you'd see in a kiddie movies,
there are also a few "Oh my God, this is horrible!" sequences -
though they do get you chuckling when you think about them later. This
movie is simply amazing.
At the beginning of the movie, we see The Great Clock
that's located at The End Of The World, a not-so-great looking
clock that looks like it was constructed by elementary students. The
tells us that every thousand years, the clock opens to admit the rays
the sun. Why? Don't ask me. Anyway, we're told that's when the clock is
most vulnerable. At the same time on Earth, little Jimmy is suffering
having to get up, have a shower, get dressed, and have breakfast, all
the first day of school. "I wish time would stop!" he whines during a
and not so convincing rant, while he stares offscreen at his cue card.
Bad move, Jimmy! The clock gets wind of that wish, and
BOING, we see people all over the world (well, at least in Florida)
in their tracks and freeze, except for one little impatient boy in one
shot who starts fidgeting his head. Surveying the frozen world from...
um .... somewhere else, I guess... is the Astronomer. Why isn't he
as well? Don't ask me. The Astronomer is terrified by time being
because if it isn't started soon, the evil Mr. Fig - a cackling villain
with a plaid jacket, red pants, and greasepaint arched eyebrows - will
have his dream of time being frozen for a thousand years! Why aren't
two characters frozen as well? Why would Mr. Fig want to rule
if everything is frozen? Would it really be bad for us if time was
for a thousand years, since we would never notice such a thing? Do I
to tell you there are no answers to these questions as well?
He decides to send his daughter Aurora down to Jimmy.
In a normal movie, she would be a beautiful woman, but since this is a
low budget movie, the daughter here looks like a somewhat slimmer Kathy
Bates. Jimmy then shows how he is a boy wonder by not seeming that
when Aurora suddenly materializes in his bedroom. After being told what
his wish did, Jimmy passively concludes, "I guess I was being pretty
and agrees to travel with Aurora to her homeland - wherever it is, and
whatever it's called - to replace the Golden Globe (insert your
joke here) in The Great Clock so that time can be replaced. Of course,
only a boy wonder could face the various perils ahead - they will not
have to avoid the the evil Mr. Fig, but dangers like the color blue
as you know, can make you fall asleep) and the natives from
tribe, who are terrifying with their green skin and pink pants.
The thing I wondered most about Jimmy, The Boy
why the movie thought that Jimmy deserved to be a boy wonder. As played
by youngster Dennis Jones, Jimmy is an annoying little brat, who mushes
up his lines when he speaks, and can't even competently act relatively
simple actions, like smiling or licking his lips. Jimmy is the kind of
kid that manages to annoy you even when they aren't doing anything, and
makes you want to smack him across the mouth. He doesn't do very much
the movie that's heroic or adventurous - heck, he doesn't do that much,
period! Most of the movie has him looking on some action, mouth open
eyes agape (doing both actions badly), or else he's holding onto
hand while she leads the way. In some scenes, Nancy Jo Berg (who plays
Aurora) is clearly having to drag the uncooperative youngster by the
As for Berg's acting, while she definitely is nowhere as bad as Jones,
she puts a condescending tone into her performance. While this approach
might be acceptable if the production was a stage play for the kiddies,
it comes across as amateurish on the screen.
David Blight Jr. (as Mr. Fig) also acts in a very broad
manner, though he makes it work to his advantage. He is trying so hard
to act, that he automatically becomes the best actor of the movie. He
goes so much over the top in his performance, you'll also remember him
for a long time after you've forgotten everything else about the movie.
Words can't adequately describe how insane his performance is. He
leaps around, laughs out loud, and does high kicks in the air. The
is when he sings - no, screams - the song "Mr. Fig". As he
"I'M MR. FIG!", his movements become so crazed, they become perverted,
with his intense pelvis thrusts and vigorous hand movements near his
If you think that's too much, wait until you see the scenes he has with
Jimmy. In those scenes, we see him thrusting his face towards Jimmy's
leering, picking up Jimmy and giggling, "I'll give you a hint!", and
chases Jimmy while practically drooling. Probably nobody in the
gave these scenes a second thought in 1966, but today one can't help
wonder if this subtext was intended by Lewis and company at the time.
I'll now backtrack a little to something more solid,
now at the rest of the songs in the movie. They are gloriously awful;
just at times being so bad they are hilarious, but sometimes they are
awful they take your breath away with just how grandly awful they are.
The songs are not just awful by themselves, they are awful also in how
they are presented. Not just bad lip-synching, but with as few cuts as
possible (sometimes just one) as well as lame and unenergetic
To give you a taste of how bad the song number are (especially since
may find it hard to dig up a copy of this movie), I have transcribed
following lyrics for you, from the "best" song in the movie, entitled
Beans, beans, wonderful beans!
Nobody know how it means
To have beans in the morning, beans for lunch,
Beans without warning, and beans by the bunch!
I like steak and salad greens,
But nothing can take the place of beans!
I like kidney beans and navy beans,
Lima beans and gravy beans,
Dark green beans and string beans too,
They all fit my point of view!
Beans, beans, marvelous beans!
Vegetable fit for kings and queens!
I don't want diamonds and limousines!
Just give me lotsa, lotsa beans!
Beans, beans, wonderful beans!
Watching Jimmy, The Boy Wonder, it's
that Lewis knew beans about making a genuinely good kiddie movie.
I think it's more likely that he just didn't care about making this
any good, feeling it would probably make a buck despite its badness.
because there's no feeling of love in the entire movie, that Lewis was
actually enjoying making this movie. Almost all of the movie was shot
Florida's Coral Gardens, and Lewis makes no effort to disguise the
limited locations, with barely an outside prop brought in. At one
the movie makes an excuse so it can take a detour from Jimmy's journey
and show us a badly dubbed foreign cartoon feature that's been chopped
down to twenty minutes! Lewis also takes up much of the short running
of this movie by devoting much of the movie to Jimmy and Aurora walking
across the screen, or during the time they accidentally walk into Slow
What would the movie had been like if Lewis had really
tried, low budget and all, to make a good kiddie flick? No, I
think he would ever in a million years manage to make it genuinely
The pacing would probably be a lot better, but would it have been
to see everyone trying to achieve true greatness with limited
Well, we won't ever know for sure. All I do know is that the movie as
is now is pretty funny, though a few of the laughs come later. Your
will edit down the Slow Motion Land bit down for you later, so that you
see the hilarious dumbness of the idea without having all its great
attached to it any longer. Though you will have to sit through those
bits at first, Jimmy The Boy Wonder has enough insane
to more than please you before its end. Then just relax, and let the
smiles come suddenly to you as you do your work.
Check for availability on Amazon.
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See also: Fantasy Mission Force,
The Force On Thunder Mountain, Willy McBean And His Magic Machine