I chuckled a lot during “The Powerpuff Girls Movie.” But I kept remembering that I also chuckle when I happen to see a few minutes of the “Powerpuff Girls” series on TV, and that’s only for a few minutes at a time, and it’s free.
Even at a minuscule 72 minutes, the film feels like nothing more than a stretched-out episode of the series. It’s a perfectly good series, yes, with a striking visual style and a subversive sense of humor. But even good cartoon shows are best when kept to 30 minutes, and on the small screen, and, as I said, free of charge.
The heroines are three adorable little girls with huge doe eyes. Bubbles (voice of Tara Strong), Blossom (Cathy Cavadini) and Buttercup (Elizabeth Daily) are their names, and they were created accidentally by a congenial scientist named Professor Utonium (Tom Kane) who also gave them a dose of Chemical X, which gives them extraordinary strength and other powers.
In the TV series, they are crimefighters in the city of Townsville. In the film, we see their creation and how they came to be superheroes instead of just freaks. Were the fans of the series clamoring for an origin explanation? Probably not, but if you’re going to insist on making the leap to the big screen, you’ve got to start somewhere.
The girls first raise the ire of the town by engaging in a hilariously destructive game of “tag” that leaves the city in ruins. (“Freaky Bug-Eyed Weirdos Broke Everything,” the newspaper headline says the next day.)
Sad at having gained so many enemies without meaning to, they wander into the clutches of Mojo Jojo (Roger L. Jackson), a brainiac monkey who tricks them into helping him construct a doomsday machine. (His plan involves an army of odd monkeys, by the way.)
The film is sometimes quite funny, and other times just loud and bombastic. It eventually devolves into a very standard superhero-fights-bad-guy sequence, with little to distinguish it from the countless similar scenes that have been animated over the past 70 years.
What can I say? If you like the TV show, you’ll like this, though you might feel it’s a bit too much of a usually-good thing, and you’ll certainly wonder what (besides money) was the inspiration to even do this. If you’ve never seen the series, and you can handle a slyly witty animated film, you could do worse than this.
C+ (1 hr., 13 min.; )