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The Powerpuff Girls Movie (2002)

1 May 2003 by Gnoll No Comment

THE POWERPUFF GIRLS


2002, dir. Craig McCracken

73 min. Rated PG.
Starring: Cathy Cadavini, Tara Strong, Elizabeth Daily, Roger L. Jackson.

Review by Noel Wood

First off, to answer your obvious question: Yes, I did see the Powerpuff Girls movie. Willingly. In fact, I’m kind of upset that it took me this long to see it. I would have liked to seen it theatrically, but lacked a viewing compadre and couldn’t honestly bring myself to walk up to a box office and request “one for Powerpuff Girls”. But now that it’s available on video, and I just happen to have a girlfriend who loves the PPGs, I had an excuse to indulge myself. The clerk at the local video shop sure tried to rain on my parade as I was preparing to pony up my four bucks to take the girls home with me. Y’know what? Say what you want. It won’t faze me.

Yes, I enjoy the Powerpuff Girls television show. Yes, I occasionally watch its episodes on Cartoon Network. And, well, that’s to be expected, because it’s a pretty cool show. It’s not must-see TV like Sealab 2021 or Aqua Teen Hunger Force is, but i’ve got no desire to change the channel if it happens to be on. It’s well-written, with as many good obscure references for the adult in me as there is mindless fun for the kid in me. It’s like a bowl of frosted mini-wheats all wrapped up in cartoon form.

A lot of childrens’ television programs get their own movies. I mean, in my youth, not only did stuff like TRANSFORMERS and G.I.JOE get its own movie version, but even the girlier stuff like CARE BEARS and MY LITTLE PONY was immortalized on the big screen. Most of these wind up being nothing but big fat toy commercials that are of little to no use to anyone who doesn’t follow the shows religiously. But this is not so with the PPG movie. Serving as an origin story for the show, this does everything it needs to to get the viewer hooked. I guess you could say it’s a retroactive tie-in: rather than using the show to sell the movie, they use the movie to sell the show. Like, say, someone who had never seen the PPGs on TV might watch the movie and be all like “well now i’m interested in finding out what happens next” and then tune in to the Cartoon Network for the next episode. Or something.

In the movie, we’re introduced to all the basics right off the bat. Here’s the city of Townsville. Here’s Professor Utonium. Here’s his lab. Here’s him mixing some sugar and spice and everything nice to create the perfect little girls. Here’s his naughty lab monkey Jojo running around and knocking some Chemical X into the mix, causing the perfect little girls to become perfect little superhero girls. Here’s Jojo growing a giant brain right through the top of his skull and running off to become the girls’ archnemesis Mojo Jojo. It’s a concise little beginnings story that gets the job done in the first few minutes and gets on with the story.

The Powerpuff Girls are, to anyone who has even a sliver of decency in them, about the most adorable things ever. They’re drawn with gigantic colorful eyes on their oversized noggins and little undeveloped hands. And they have this cute little naive and innocent demeanor with little-girl voices that you just can’t help but love. And most importantly, they kick ass. They have the superpowers of pretty much every comic book hero all rolled into one. Each girl has their own distinctive personality, too. Blossom, the redhead, is bossy and impatient. Bubbles, the blonde, is overly sensitive and cries a lot. And Buttercup, the brunette, has attitude.

After a catastrophic game of tag, the newly-created girls throw the city of Townsville into chaos. Perceived as menaces, they feel dejected and unloved. The Professor winds up in scrapes with the law as a result of their creation. But the girls, in their naivete, try to help get in the good graces of the people by assisting Jojo in his master plan. Jojo makes the girls believe that his work is meant to make the city better, all the while being pictured as a yoda-like master.

The POWERPUFF GIRLS MOVIE could have easily been a waste of time. More often than not, childrens’ movies based on television shows wind up with disastrous results. They’re either too tied in with the show to stand alone or are just insipid vehicles used to sell toys (yes, I’m quite aware that TRANSFORMERS THE MOVIE was one of those). On top of that, there’s usually very little to keep anyone above the age of twelve interested in the story. Fortunately, the PPGs movie has fun with a lot of pop culture references. There’s a guy being interviewed by the press that speaks only in Van Halen references. There’s a proboscis monkey who jumps in on a Jimmy Durante impression. There’s allusions to Planet of the Apes and STAR WARS. And there’s plenty of monkey feces jokes just to get the movie off on the right foot.

Following with the formula of its TV cousin, the PPG Movie moves at a breakneck pace. The action scenes are so in-your-face and explosive that you’d wonder if this was the show that gave all those kids seizures in Japan. I guess that’s why it got the PG rating, because I think it got my heart beating at three times the normal rate.

The DVD has some nice extras on it, and one in particular sticks out. There are four deleted (read: extended) scenes that were cut from the movie, that seem to really belong in it. One in particular gives an exposition to explain why the girls are doing certain things in their assistance to Mojo Jojo, which really helps explain things better. I’m not exactly sure as to why thes scenes were cut, considering that the film clocks in at only 75 minutes as it is and the scenes may have added two minutes to that length, tops.

I wish I had seen this film in theaters. While it was lots of fun on DVD, the animation led me to want to see it on a big screen capacity. While the art of the PPGs is a bit cruder than, oh, say, SPIRITED AWAY, it’s a fun style that really does well to capture the action. In the movie, there are some enhancements to the usual animation style, with a lot more CGI snuck in. And it would just be cool as hell to see those red, blue, and green contrails zipping around the big screen as the girls fly around the city.

Bottom line is that this is the kind of kids’ movie that everyone can enjoy. I honestly can’t say I’ve ever met anyone who has actually watched the PPGs on TV and not enjoyed it. If you don’t dig it, you probably just don’t get it. Either that, or you’re just a heartless bastard. You decide.

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