Kim Possible (2019)

Rating: **
Review Date: 4/14/19
Cast: Sadie Stanley, Sean Giambrone, Issac Ryan Brown, Ciara Riley Wilson, Taylor Ortega, Alyson Hannigan, Connie Ray, Erika Tham

"Saving the world takes a surprising amount of grappling."

Kim Possible (Sadie Stanley) is a super-smart and super-talented teenager who regularly saves the world from evil-doers, but even the most nefarious villains are nothing compared to the horrors of navigating high school. As if her first day of high school wasn't miserable enough, Shego (Taylor Ortega) breaks Dr. Drakken out of prison and they immediately go to work on a plan to destroy Kim. Things only get worse when Kim's new friend Athena (Ciara Riley Wilson) outdoes her in every way, which crushes Kim's ego and makes her question her worth and the role she plays. But her pity party gets put on hold when Drakken kidnaps Athena, forcing Kim, her best friend Ron (Sean Giambrone), computer wiz Wade (Issac Ryan Brown), Kim's mom (Alyson Hannigan), Kim's grandmother (Connie Ray), and a naked mole rat named Rufus to go rescue her. Naturally, it's a trap, but can a broken Kim muster the confidence and resources to save the day?

If anything good can be said about the movie, it's that Sadie Stanley is fantastic in the role of Kim Possible. She's cute, spunky, sassy, graceful, athletic, and overflowing with youthful energy and feminine charm. She also hits all of her emotional notes perfectly and delivers a surprisingly moving performance. The only complaints I have are with the makeup department, which gave her a sickly look by overdoing her blush and going a little too pink on her lipstick. Apart from her, the production is a disappointing mess of cringe-worthy tween drama trapped within the rigid confines of traditional Disney tropes. The action scenes and visual effects are embarrassingly weak, but that's not surprising given the movie's budget and the target audience. Sadie pulls off a few nice moves here and there, but otherwise the fight scenes are poor and nearly every hit is cut away. Again, not unexpected given the family-friendly target audience. It really makes me sad seeing so much wasted potential, and imagining how amazing "Kim Possible" could have been with a more serious and edgy treatment. The "Tomb Raider" films suffer from eerily similar problems. On the plus side, it's a fizzy film that champions female empowerment, and it doesn't introduce any messy romantic elements.

The supporting cast does a good job, even if their characters are annoying. I was never a fan of Ron Stoppable to begin with, but Sean Giambrone does an admirable job of bringing his clumsy awkwardness to life. Ciara Riley Wilson is charming as Kim's friend/rival/nemesis, but is also responsible for some of the movie's cringiest moments. Original Kim Possible voice actor Christy Carlson Romano shows up in a pointless throwaway cameo, but it's a cute in-joke for fans of the animated series. The biggest disappointment might be Taylor Ortega, who seems sorely miscast as Shego. Her character falls into the familiar mold of "sexy equals sinister," but she lacks the seductive sensuality to successfully pull it off, and comes across as an awkward caricature with too much snark and not enough sass. She's also a lot older than her cartoon counterpart seems to be, as I always pictured her to be one of Kim's contemporaries. Regardless, the script fails to make her an interesting or effective villain, and it's unclear why she's involved with Drakken at all since he constantly berates her and offers her no apparent benefits or advantages.

Despite its deplorable made-for-TV tween mentality, the movie has its moments and some of the dialog is admittedly smart and funny. In particular, I found the term "eternity leave" to be quite clever, and Shego gets some choice self-referential and genre-skewering lines regarding cliché villain behavior. Even if you go into the movie with low expectations, it's bound to disappoint, but younger viewers probably won't care.