The Powerpuff Girls Movie (review)

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Girl Power

Little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, including Chemical X, which endows little girls with the ability to get real mad and the power to kick the ass of the thing that makes them angry.

But any 8-year-old girl could have told you that.

If there’s anything special about The Powerpuff Girls, those pint-sized superheroes in dresses, it’s that there’s nothing all that exaggerated about them. Sure, they fly and have superstrength, but the little-girl rage they tap into is real, even though most adults wouldn’t like to admit it. I’m not talking about the “mean girls” being denigrated by authors looking for hooks to sell their books — I’m talking about acknowledging girls as human, with the same range of emotions little boys are allowed.
Hey, I flew around the playground in first grade, my sweater buttoned around my neck like a cape, playing superhero. I pretended to be Superman and Batman (and not wimpy Supergirl or Batgirl). At least today’s little girls have cool heroines they can emulate.

The Powerpuff Girls Movie was probably inevitable, given the enormous popularity the girls enjoy among both kids and geeky grownups. I’d seen only part of one episode of the Cartoon Network show, so I brought along two acolytes of the series, one adult and one miniature. Both agreed the movie was cool. And I, the basically uninitiated, agreed. This is much monkeyfun for all.

No, literally, much monkeyfun. The story of the girls’ creation, rejection from society, and eventual acceptance by the people of the city of Townsville is the story of The Powerpuff Girls Movie, and, as with many great superheroes, their story is intimately conjoined with the creation and rise and fall of their archenemy, Mojo Jojo. The shenanigans of Jojo the chimp in Professor Utonium’s lab are what led to that extra kick of Chemical X getting accidentally dumped into that fateful vat of sugar and spice… and a splash of it onto Jojo himself, mutating him into Mojo Jojo, super — and superevil — chimp.

It’s all really very silly, and leads to many bad monkeypuns that are both groan-inducing and hilarious, like how you laugh at a 5-year-old’s knock-knock jokes even though you’ve heard them all before, purely out of enjoyment of the kick the kid gets from them.

Ya can’t not be amused by The Powerpuff Girls Movie, not when Professor Utonium (the voice of Tom Kane) gets such delight from his mad-scientist-spawned little girls. Not when Mojo Jojo (the voice of Roger L. Jackson) assembles an army of mad mutated monkeys. (Are monkeys ever not funny? They’re like our uncouth country cousins, and it’s okay to laugh at them here because No Real Monkeys Were Harmed, etc.) Not when the girls themselves are so genuinely human: Blossom (the voice of Catherine Cavadini), the intellectual leader; Bubbles (the voice of Tara Charendoff), the arty, cheerful one; and Buttercup (the voice of E.G. Daily), my favorite, because she’s so resolutely anti-cute. And is so cute in the process.

There’s a delightfully relentless video-game intensity to the movie — it is, in fact, rated PG for “non-stop frenetic animated action” — and the driving soundtrack in particular has that faux-threatening quality, like it’ll stop if you don’t keep pumping quarters into it, and you don’t want it to stop. By the end of a breathless 75 minutes or so (a “Dexter’s Laboratory” short ensures you get the full movie-value for the admission price), you’re ready for more.

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