Finally, we girls have some heroines who inject superhuman powers into that sweet and helpless cliché ideal that’s impossible (and just plain boring) to live up to: Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup. Those three animated princesses of hipness, with little sausage limbs and nose-less beach-ball heads, are not only stars of the popular Cartoon Network TV series, but bellipotent beauties of the big screen as well.
The Powerpuff Girls Movie flies you through the origin of these cute, cuddly nymphets with psycho-unfathomable superpowers, still under the imaginative eye of director-writer-executive producer Craig McCracken, the series’ creator. To save crime-rampant Townsville, kindhearted Professor Utonium (a man of science appropriately composed of Bauhaus-friendly angles, rectangles and triangles) mixes sugar, spice, everything nice and, accidentally, Chemical X, to create some little girls to perpetuate sweetness. Which he does, but at the same time he unwittingly turns his lab-monkey, Jojo, into an evil mutant genius.
You’ll see that same ’50s-’60s hipster design motif, with objects and people surrounded by signature thick lines. But the movie has a more dazzling and adventurous color palette, and room to ride its clever, ironic humor. And it has much more of that mutant monkey you hate to love, Mojo Jojo, the undisputed king of redundancy, with lines like, “Don’t you see … All you monkeys are my plan! So your plans are my plans because you made plans and my plan was to make you! But I never planned for my plans to make plans to stop my plan? I planned to rule this planet, not to have my plans plan to stop me, the planner of you!”
The girls continue to spout pop-culture-adorned references, like when Buttercup is protecting a hapless pooch from a mutant ape, she bellows, “Get your hands off him, you darn dirty ape!”
The Movie is quick-witted and artistically composed, but there’s one complaint: The Powerpuff-mutant monkey battle scenes push the cartoon-happy-fun tone dangerously close to the dark side. It’s unclear whether the girls just knock out the monkeys in order to rehabilitate them for productive zoo life or if they actually kill them. (It looks pretty grim, even to my jaded eyes.) Other than that, The Powerpuff Girls Movie is an entertaining force that actually speaks “up” to children. It’ll give adults a run for their money too.
Anita Schmaltz writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.