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Steven Isaac

Movie Review

Bubbles. Blossom. Buttercup. The Powerpuff Girls. Bubbles was so named because of her infectious laugh, coy smile and bubbly personality. Blossom got her name because she learns fast and exhibits an impressive intelligence (for a kindergartner). Buttercup, the surly one, chock full of spice, was so dubbed because “Buttercup” begins with a “B” just like the other names.

And so the Powerpuff Girls are loosed on Townsville by the clever and amiable Professor Utonium. Desperately trying to create the perfect little girls to help his city recover from its case of crime-ridden doldrums, the Professor heads to his laboratory to whip up a batch of sugar, spice and everything nice. But when “Chemical X” accidentally gets added to the mix, his little creations are infused with superpowers. They fly. They shoot laser beams from their eyes. They lift tall buildings with one hand. And they go to kindergarten.

It’s on their very first day of school that Bubbles, Blossom and Buttercup get into trouble. The other kids teach them how to play tag, and the three sisters love the game so much they get a little carried away—and destroy a good portion of Townsville in the process. To make a short story miniscule, everyone in the city hates them after that. The cops arrest the Professor. And an evil monkey named Mojo Jojo lures the girls into doing his maniacal bidding. Here’s hoping the girls figure out what’s going on before Jojo takes over the world with his horde of souped-up simians!

positive elements: Professor Utonium may be a bit clueless about raising three little girls, but he loves them with all of his heart. He teaches them that just because they are different from the other children doesn’t mean they are bad. He urges them to get their superpowers under control so that they won’t scare their classmates and they can live peaceably with the world. The Professor also shows a strong sense of philanthropy. Indeed, his original motivation for creating the girls is to help his town.

The Powerpuff sisters love each other, look out for one another and stick together through thick and thin. At one point, exiled into the cold recesses of outer space, the three begin to quarrel and throw blame around, but they recover quickly and decide to tackle the problem at hand instead of each other. They don’t want to take responsibility for the mess they made at first, but gradually learn that they must (unfortunately, the only option they’re given to make things right is a violent one). Girl power is obviously a big theme here. That can be either positive or negative, depending on the guidance that accompanies the idea.

spiritual content: The Professor creates the girls in a laboratory vat. While that’s not possible, our collective ability to laugh at such a stunt is beginning to wane in the face of human cloning experiments. None of the superpowers given to the Powerpuffs are linked to supernatural sources, but Mojo Jojo’s power exhibits itself in a fierce, evil way, evoking images of the dragon in Sleeping Beauty and the octopus Ursula in The Little Mermaid.

sexual content: None. Parents should know, however, that the buxom Sara Bellum is always tightly outfitted in a short red dress (her face is never shown, leaving her curvy body as her only visual identifier).

violent content: The city of Townsville is all but leveled by movie’s end. And a lot of screen time is devoted to showing its destruction. The Powerpuff Girls careen through buildings, plunge through pavement, blast into space and blow things up with their laser eyes. But what sets The Powerpuff Girls Movie apart from the majority of kiddie cartoons (past and present) is that a horde of characters die. They’re all bad guys (or monkeys, to be precise), but they aren’t just dispatched to another dimension or locked up in a cage. They die. In fact, their slaughter is so vast that their various body parts rain down from the sky filling up the streets of Townsville. That happens after Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup come to the realization that they cannot save the city by rescuing its citizens; they must destroy the enemy—in this case hundreds, or even thousands of supercharged monkeys. So they systematically kill them by blowing them up, hurling them through the air, etc.

Elsewhere, the sisters are rescued from scary street thugs when Jojo knocks the ruffians senseless with a trashcan lid. Jojo’s Help-the-Town-and-Make-It-a-Better-Place machine creates scads of fierce monkeys who rush into the city and take its people hostage. In a short tribute to King Kong, a giant Jojo smashes through what remains of the city. He also kidnaps the Professor and uses him as a human shield against the Powerpuff’s superpowers.

crude or profane language: No profanity, but there are a few words and phrases many parents won���t want their 6-year-olds copying. They include “freak,” “suckers,” “weirdo,” “dang,” “stupid,” “big, fat dumb jerk,” “kick your butt,” “darn” and “chump.” One primate screams, “If you don’t like it, you can sniff my big, black, baboon bombs.” The phrase “I don’t give a . . .” isn’t finished.

drug and alcohol content: None.

other negative elements: A dog shows his disdain for a dead monkey by urinating near him.

conclusion: The Powerpuff Girls’ cutoff age has to be about 9. If you’re older than that, Powerpuff is just plain shrill, obnoxious, pointless and silly. If you’re younger, well, let’s just say you have a much better chance of enjoying it than the rest of us.

Powerpuff Girls creator, Craig McCracken, originally named his series “The Whoopa– Girls.” Saner heads seem to have prevailed and the cartoon was renamed before it made it big. That’s not relevant to this movie except to further point out that violence plays a very large role here. Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup spill their milk violently and they wipe it up violently. There’s no room for talking. No space for resolution. It’s all about taking down the bad guys. A couple of screens over, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones do it with dry sarcasm and space-age guns. The Powerpuff Girls do it with giggles and laser-beam eyes.

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Steven Isaac