The Powerpuff Girls Movie (2002)

Rating: **
Release Date: 7/3/02
Cast: Cathy Cavadini, Tara Charendoff, Elizabeth Daily

Sugar, spice, and everything nice. The Powerpuff Girls hit the big screen and save Townsville from the evil machinations of Mojo Jojo. But Townsville didn't always appreciate their diminutive protectors. When the superpowered little girls first appeared in Townsville, they invoked the wrath of the entire populace after an innocent game of tag left the city decimated. As a result, Professor Utonium was thrown into jail and the girls were run out of town. Scared and alone, the girls have to find within them the strength and courage to take responsibility for their actions and try to set things right. And the best way to achieve that is through gratuitous violence, after which they are treated like heroes. An interesting and ironic social commentary.

Although I'm a fan of the TV series, I found the film to be rather disappointing. It basically feels like a regular twelve minute episode that has been stretched out to fill an hour. Whereas the TV show is often frantic and frenetic, the action and pacing in the film is painfully slow. However, I don't think the audience could survive an hour's worth of the chaotic frenzy that's usually found in the show - it would be WAY too much to deal with. The film also explores the Powerpuff Girls origin story, which isn't that surprising. However, it's also not very interesting, since anyone who has seen the show already knows how the Powerpuff Girls and Mojo Jojo came into being. Being an origin story, it also spends way too much time on character development and morality themes, and the girls don't even kick it into gear until the very end of the film. Another disappointment is that the writing isn't nearly as clever and mature as the TV show. Instead, the film dumbs everything down and focuses on the virtues of love and family. (Although I must say that some of this mushy sentimentality did bring me to tears a couple of times)

Unfortunately, the production values aren't dramatically better than the TV show. The animation and character design is overly simple, and the only thing that sets it apart from the TV series is the inclusion of some 3D computer rendered scenes. It's interesting to me why Warner Brothers even bothered giving this film a theatrical release, but my feeling is that they're really banking on the foreign markets. I can actually see this film being moderately successful in Japan, especially since the popularity of the Powerpuff Girls peaked over there much more recently than here. And despite its flaws, the film is still very fun to watch. If you enjoy the Powerpuff Girls on TV, then you'll enjoy them in the theater. And if you like Mojo Jojo, the film contains one of the funniest pee-in-your-pants moments that I've ever seen. I literally haven't laughed that hard during a movie since I saw "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" (1986). That alone is worth checking out.