- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 3, 2002

"The Powerpuff Girls Movie" has a lot more dynamism than "Hey Arnold! The Movie," but both remain distant alternatives if you still haven't seen "Lilo & Stitch" two or three times.
The illustrative style of "Powerpuff Girls" had a certain nostalgic appeal I had not anticipated. The series derives from a popular Cartoon Network series that glorifies a trio of lab-brewed kindergartners called Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup. They possess superpowers, such as laser vision and jet-fighter speed. The drawing recalls the clever simplicities of the cartoons made by Stephen Bosustow's United Productions Associates, or UPA, in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The most diverting UPA characters were Gerald McBoing Boing and Mister Magoo, whose handicaps a defective voice and feeble eyesight, respectively might have disqualified them at the sketch pad 50 years later.
The Powerpuffers become a menace to the humans in their vicinity by tearing up things, notably quite a bit of the architecture and highway system of a metropolis named, all too modestly, Townville. The animators have a flair for maximizing the comic potential in lines and shapes.
Such ingenuity probably saves a bundle. The pretext doesn't seem to require elaborate depictions of characters and settings. The movie frequently appears at its most accomplished when cutting corners.
Latecomers will witness the creation of the Powerpuffers in Dr. Utonium's laboratory. He was trying to create three perfect little girls but accidentally used "Chemical X."
A reckless pet monkey, JoJo, who runs off and then reappears as a nemesis, Mojo Jojo, sort of takes the moppets off the hook for some of the damage they cause by inflicting greater and deliberate destruction on poor Townville. Ultimately, Mojo Jojo suggests a hybrid of King Kong and a "Planet of the Apes" warlord.
Although the girls wreck things out of sheer pre-civilized and supernatural exuberance, it would be a comfort if someone I guess Dr. Utonium, who willingly shoulders the burden of surrogate fatherhood insisted that they clean up a conspicuous mess or two. At a glance, the girls' powers would appear to make it relatively easy for them to undertake major repairs and construction, but no one holds them accountable for a heap of wreckage.
The humor to be gained from showing overmatched youngsters and grown-ups acting stupefied at the girls' destructive power is quickly exhausted. The little whirlwinds get to make amends when stopping Mojo Jojo, but their moral education might begin a little earlier, when their new domicile and new classroom suffer Powerpuff hurricane damage. I believe the script would have been reformulated if the filmmakers had anticipated anything as calamitous as September 11. Townville probably would have gotten off with a small-scale battering.
Certain animators prove adept at running gags, notably the continuing momentum attributed to a bouncing red ball and the continuing danger courted by an oblivious pooch, whose peril keeps one of the Powerpuffs hopping to complete serial rescue missions.
Energized and imaginative, "The Powerpuff Girls Movie" needs only an occasional awakening to fundamental social responsibilities to reconcile enviable zest with commendable common sense.

*
TITLE: "The Powerpuff Girls Movie"
RATING: PG (Systematic depiction of mass destruction in a facetious, science-fiction cartoon format; fleeting comic vulgarity)
CREDITS: Directed by Craig McCracken. Animation direction by Genndy Tartakovsky. Story by Charlie Bean, Lauren Faust, Mr. McCracken, Paul Rudish and Don Shank. Art direction by Mike Moon and music by James L. Venable.
RUNNING TIME: 77 minutes
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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