When it comes to creators of animated television shows, I can say without a doubt that one of the best is easily Craig McCraken. His cartoons like "Foster's Home to Imaginary Friends", "Wander Over Yonder", "Kid Cosmic" have had so much energy, passion, creativity, and uniqueness behind them that they've left incredible legacies and have inspired many other fantastic animated shows. And of course, the first show that he made that started it all was "The Powerpuff Girls", the show of three superhero girls who fight crime and protect the city of Townsville from certain enemies. It was a fun show so it seemed fitting that it would get a film and in 2002, Cartoon Network took the show to the big screen with "The Powerpuff Girls Movie". Much like the show it's based on, the film is a lot of fun and ranks among one of my favorite animated films based on a TV show. This was such a fun ride and I enjoyed it a lot.
In the crime-filled city of Townsville, Professor Utonium (Tom Kane) has set out to make the city a better place by trying to create the perfect little girl by literally using sugar, spice, and everything nice. However, while in his laboratory trying to mix the concoction together, he ends up being shoved by his chimpanzee lab assistant that ends up adding Chemical X into the mixture that results in three little girls he names Blossom (Cathy Cavalli), Bubbles (Tara Strong), and Buttercup (E.G. Dailey). They seem like perfectly normal sweet little girls at first, but he then discovers that the extra ingredient ended up giving them superpowers. Naturally, with powers like this and three uncontrollable young girls, they soon cause trouble in the city and people including the Mayor (Tom Kenny) naturally get upset and shun the girls and arrest Utonium for creating them. Ashamed of what they caused, the girls wander the city alone before coming across Utonium's chimpanzee assistant Mojo Jojo (Roger L. Jackson) who was also affected by Chemical X, and together, they team up to try to show Townsville what they're capable of, unaware the Mojo Jojo has an evil plan which would set him up as the Powerpuff Girls eventual arch-nemesis.
This film was really so much fun to watch and I had a blast watching it. It's really a shame that the film didn't do as well when it initially came out. Despite the film getting good reviews, it flopped at the box office barely making back its $11 million budget. It could be due to the film having some stiff competition with "Men In Black II", the film's cutesy nature being off-putting to audiences, as well as the imagery of Townsville in ruin bringing back bad memories of the 9/11 attacks which was still a fresh wound in people's minds at the time. Not to mention, Cartoon Network decided not to make another film for theaters again due to the poor box office performance, and director Craig McCracken, frustrated with some of the executive decisions with the film was persuaded not to make another film again and decided to stick strictly with television. Looking back on the film almost twenty years later, I was surprised to find out how well it's held up since I really had a fun time watching it. Making the story for this film the origin story for the titular characters as well as their arch-nemesis was a brilliant idea in retrospect. One of the biggest challenges for any animated film based on a TV show is trying to appeal to both the fans and the non-fans alike. By making the film an origin story, it allows both the fans to see how the story began and even gives non-fans a chance to get introduced to the characters in a new way and see whether or not they want to continue watching the show. Right from the very start, the film is filled with so much energy, and McCracken and his crew keep their foot on the gas almost non-stop creating some really fun and hilarious moments. One of the best scenes is when the girls end up playing tag throughout the city and unknowingly causing mayhem and destruction in their wake and it's really funny and filled with a lot of great action and also has a hilarious payoff at the end of the film. Most of the humor also really lands well too especially during the third act battle which is filled with so much energy and mayhem that it's hard to look away from the screen. I also wasn't too bothered by the sad and down moments where the girls look down on themselves as it didn't come across as depressing or contrived as it could've. The only problem the story does have is the pacing does feel somewhat messy with the first act feeling slightly sloppy. Eventually, the pacing does get better throughout the film and it wasn't too much for me to get bothered by it. As far as the animation goes, it's top-notch stuff. For an animated film based on a television show, this is easily one of the best-looking films that have come out and it has aged phenomenally since 2002. There are a lot of great colors that McCracken and his team uses throughout the film with the real highlight being the art direction by McCracken and Mike Moon. The backgrounds and sets in this film have aged like fine wine and look simply stupendous. McCraken's and Moon's influence from the stylized animation backgrounds of UPA from the 50s is evident clearly and that timeless look really fits the 60s serial show feeling to the film. It all leads to some fast-paced and fun action scenes with the final battle being the big highlight and I loved it tremendously. This leads me into talking about the characters who were all fun and still had their quirky personalities from the show. It's always fun seeing how the fearless leader Blossom, the sweet and kindly Bubbles, and tough and spicy Buttercup got their start and how they became the heroes of Townsville and it was also great seeing how they played off their potential enemy Mojo Jojo who had a really funny and silly evil plan to take over Townsville that led to the third act being as fun as it was. Even the father-daughter chemistry the girls shared with Professor Utonium was special that was fun to see.
All in all, "The Powerpuff Girls Movie" is such a fun film to watch. Despite some iffy pacing, the story is hilarious and energetic, the animation is colorful and great action, and the characters are just as fun from the show as they are here. This is a fun film to watch that I recommend both for fans of the show and anyone curious enough to want to start their journey with the heroes of Townsville. It's a shame that Cartoon Network never made more animated films after this due to it flopping because I know they could've made some fun animated films based on shows that would've really rivaled Nickelodeon. At least we still have this film which is still as sweet as it was in 2002.