POWERPUFF GIRLS, THE
Professor Utonium (Tom Kane) hopes to create three perfect girls in his laboratory using sugar, spice and everything nice. An errant monkey tips Chemical X into the brew. The Professor christens the three bubble-headed girls Blossom (Cathy Cavadini), Bubbles (Tara Strong) and Buttercup (Elizabeth Daily). But after a game of tag results in Townsville, USA, being razed to the ground it’s evident that the girls are endowed with superpowers. The girls are denounced as freaks. The monkey, now known as Mojo Jojo, cons them into his plan for world domination. They are exiled for their mistake, before rallying their strength to save the world.
Review by Paul Kalina:
Those new to the Powerpuff Girls — in other words, those who haven’t stumbled upon the animated cartoon on Cartoon Newtork where it debuted in 1998, walked through the children’s clothes department of Target and/or been head-in-the-sand resistant to this preteen phenomenon — won’t have to undertake a crash-course to appreciate their first feature film outing.
This prequel to the TV series explains, in a suitably round-about kind of way, how Craig McCracken’s cartoon creations came to be. Though the idea of three girls who are products of an experiment-gone-wrong may be straight out of the pages of Marvel Comics, visually they are a distillation of retro-futurism à la Jetsons via Japanese animation.
The Powerpuff Girls eschews the double-entendre sophistication of The Simpsons and Animaniacs for pure, hot-pink, eye-candy effect and high-camp flippancy.
And while the film doesn’t quite muster the subtle wit on display in the TV series (the dialogue in one episode comprises lyrics from popular songs), it has its quotient of well-aimed barbs. The titles beneath the illustrations on an evolution chart read: “stupid, lame, better, almost, awesome”.
As the plot lines of the series and this film amount to little more than opportunities for loud and garish action don’t expect too much elaborate plotting or intrigue here. In fact, when it’s not dispatching the plucky heroines onto one of their several wham-bam escapades there’s barely a thing to hold the viewer’s attention.
Thankfully, some of the set-pieces justify, though only barely, the languor in-between. But don’t go looking for deeper meanings or narrative puzzles; they simply aren’t there.
However, watching the three kickass girls reduce what looks like Lower Manhattan into rubble the very week that the world’s media were piously paying homage to the first anniversary of 9/11 couldn’t have been more fitting. The film’s moral is simple — good deeds make up for mistakes — but The Powerpuff Girls’ embrace of ‘toon logic and anything-goes storytelling sets it nicely apart from Disney-style edification and sentiment.
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POWERPUFF GIRLS, THE (PG)
PRODUCER: Donna Castricone
DIRECTOR: Craig McCracken
SCRIPT: Craig McCracken, Lauren Faust, Craig McCracken, Paul Rudish, Don Shank
EDITOR: Rob Desales
MUSIC: James L. Venable
OTHER: ART DIRECTION: Mike Moon
RUNNING TIME: 80 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 23, 2002 (Vic/Qld); September 30, 2002 (NSW/WA)