The Dad Who Created Jimmy Neutron

A behind-the-scenes look at the animated lives of Steve Oedekerk and his two young daughters.

Intorduction

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Nickelodeon Movies and Paramount Pictures

Are comedy writers just kids who never grew up? Case in point: Steve Oedekerk, whose animated Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius hit theaters in 2001. At home with wife Tonie and daughters Zoe, 6, and Isabella, 2, Oedekerk wears the standard comedy-writer uniform of T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers ... with Jimmy Neutron-style springs on the heels. "Tonie hates these," he grins, bouncing toward the kitchen, where Tonie is giving Isabella lunch. "Oh, God, he's wearing the shoes!" cries Tonie, on cue, in mock horror.

It's hard to believe this former stand-up comic is 40. But Oedekerk's pranks have kept him on Hollywood's fast track since 1994, when he worked on Jim Carrey's Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He later wrote and directed its sequel, When Nature Calls, and helped craft screenplays for The Nutty Professor and Patch Adams.

His sensibilities are evident in the writing studio he's built in the guest house outside his San Juan Capistrano, CA, home. With its giant cow sculptures, cymbal-clapping toy monkeys, pinball machines, and Ping-Pong table, it's easy to see why it's Zoe's and Isabella's favorite afternoon hangout. But it's the film-editing equipment and computers there that really let Oedekerk spend time with his family.

He and Tonie bought the property four years ago largely because of the guest house. "I'd been continually moving everything closer to home until eventually it was just at home," he says. "It's not like it's hurting my family if I spend a lot of time at work now. Animation serves family life really well, because so much can be done over the Internet."

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