The Powerpuff Girls Movie
The Powerpuff Girls Movie is a 2002 American animated superhero film based on the Cartoon Network animated television series of the same name. The film was directed by series creator Craig McCracken. It is a prequel to the series that tells the origin story of how the Powerpuff Girls were created, and how they came to be the defenders of Townsville. In theaters, a Dexter's Laboratory short titled "Chicken Scratch" was shown prior to the film, which later aired as part of the series' fourth season.
|The Powerpuff Girls Movie|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Craig McCracken|
|Produced by||Donna Castricone|
|Based on||The Powerpuff Girls|
by Craig McCracken
|Narrated by||Tom Kenny|
|Music by||James L. Venable|
|Edited by||Rob Desales|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$16.4 million|
The film received mixed reviews from critics, and earned $11.4 million at the domestic box office on its $11 million budget. It fared better overseas, with a total worldwide gross of $16.4 million. The film made its television debut on Cartoon Network on May 23, 2003.
Professor Utonium creates a mixture of sugar, spice, and everything nice in hope of producing the "perfect little girl" to improve Townsville, a city plagued by crime and injustice. He is shoved by his laboratory assistant, the destructive chimpanzee Jojo, causing him to accidentally break and spill a flask of Chemical X into the concoction, which explodes in Jojo's face. The experiment is successful, producing three little girls whom the Professor names Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup. He also discovers that the girls have gained superpowers from the added Chemical X. Despite the girls' recklessness with their powers, they all immediately grow to love each other as a family.
During their first day of school, the girls learn about the game tag and begin to play among themselves, which quickly grows destructive once they use their powers. The girls take their game downtown, accidentally causing massive damage to the city until the Professor calms them down. The next day, the girls are treated as outcasts by the citizens of Townsville as a result of the destruction they have caused, and the Professor is arrested for creating the girls. Realizing that using their powers again will only anger the townspeople more, the girls try to make their way home from school on foot. They become lost in an alleyway and are attacked by the Gangreen Gang, only to be rescued by Jojo, whose brain has been mutated by the Chemical X explosion, giving him superintelligence.
Planning control of the city, Jojo gains the girls' sympathy by saying he is also hated for his powers. Jojo convinces the girls to help him build a laboratory and machine powered by Chemical X, which he claims will earn them the affections of the city. Jojo rewards the girls with a trip to the local zoo, where he secretly implants small transportation devices on all the primates there. That night, Jojo transports the primates into his lab and uses his new machine to inject them with Chemical X, transforming them into evil mutants like himself. The next morning, after the Professor is released from prison, the girls show him all the "good" they have done, only to discover the city under attack by the primates. Jojo, renaming himself Mojo Jojo, publicly announces the girls as his assistants, which further damages their reputation and makes the distraught Professor lose his faith in them. Dejected, the girls exile themselves to an asteroid in outer space.
Mojo Jojo announces his intention to rule the planet, but becomes frustrated when his minions disobey him and concoct their own plans to terrorize the people of Townsville. Overhearing the turmoil from space, the girls return to Earth and rescue the citizens, realizing they can use their powers to fight the primates. After his army is defeated, Mojo injects himself with Chemical X and grows into a giant monster, overpowering the girls in an intense battle. Rejecting Mojo's offer of an alliance to take over the world, the girls push him off a decrepit skyscraper as soon as the Professor arrives with an antidote for Chemical X to help the girls. Mojo lands on the Antidote X, which shrinks him down to his original size, battered and defeated.
The girls consider using the Antidote X to erase their powers, thinking they would be accepted as normal girls. The people of Townsville protest, apologizing for misjudging the girls and thanking them for their heroic deeds. At the insistence of the Mayor, the girls agree to use their powers to defend Townsville with the Professor's permission, becoming the city's beloved crime-fighting superhero team who are dubbed "the Powerpuff Girls".
- Cathy Cavadini as Blossom, the intelligent and dutiful leader of the Powerpuff Girls
- Tara Strong as Bubbles, the sweet and cheerful member of the Powerpuff Girls
- E. G. Daily as Buttercup, the tough and brash member of the Powerpuff Girls
- Roger L. Jackson as Mojo Jojo, a chimpanzee mutated by Chemical X who becomes the Powerpuff Girls' archenemy
- Tom Kane as Professor Utonium, the Powerpuff Girls' creator and father; and the Talking Dog
- Tom Kenny as the Mayor of Townsville; the Narrator; Mitch Mitchelson, the Powerpuff Girls' classmate; and Gangreen Gang members Snake and Lil' Arturo
- Jennifer Hale as Ms. Keane, the Powerpuff Girls' school teacher
- Jennifer Martin as Ms. Sarah Bellum, the Mayor's secretary
- Jeff Bennett as Gangreen Gang members Ace, Big Billy, and Grubber
- Grey DeLisle and Phil LaMarr as additional character voices
- Rob Paulsen, Kevin Michael Richardson, and Frank Welker as various evil primates (credited as "Whole Lotta Monkeys")
When developing the movie, the series creator/director Craig McCracken did not want the film to appeal exclusively to girls as the merchandise made it out to be, with jewelry and necklaces being sold with the characters plastered over it, and wanted to a movie about what the Powerpuff Girls were really meant to be. McCracken said that there was no real difference when directing a film in comparison to a standard TV episode. He states:
When we make the TV show, we look at them as mini films. The show is really condensed, it always keeps moving and it's got an energy level to it because of the time limitation, so my first concern was, are we going to lose that pacing going into a long form? But as it turned out, the movie still moves at the same pace that the show does. It still has that distinctive feeling to it.
During production, McCracken was originally encouraged by Cartoon Network to make an edgier movie; he recalls via Tumblr:
When we started the film I was encouraged by CN to make the movie for “25 year old guys.” So we upped the seriousness and action and down played the funny. By the time we finished there was a regime change at CN and the new heads of the Network were upset we didn’t make a poppy, colourful kids movie... This was when they first had the idea that they wanted to try producing animation for older audiences, Samurai Jack was a part of this thinking as well. We were sort of the guinea pigs for what would later evolve into Adult Swim.
The Powerpuff Girls Movie was released in theatres on July 3, 2002.
The film was released on Region 1 VHS and DVD on November 5, 2002 in the US. The DVD included extras such as deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes footage and audio commentaries. Despite being filmed in 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the DVD and VHS are in fullscreen only, much akin to that of the original series. The Region 2 DVD release presents the film in its original widescreen aspect ratio, but omits the audio commentary, the bonus features, and is also in the PAL format.
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The film received mixed to positive reviews from critics. Based on 100 reviews, the film has received a 63% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with its consensus reading, "It plays like an extended episode, but The Powerpuff Girls Movie is still lots of fun". On Metacritic, the film achieved a rating of 65 out of 100, which indicates "generally favorable reviews". Bob Longino of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution praised the film, writing, "The intricate drawings emanate 1950s futuristic pizazz like a David Hockney scenescape. The inspired script is both sinfully cynical and aw-shucks sweet". He also called it "one of the few American creations that is both gleeful pop culture and exquisite high art." Nell Minow of Common Sense Media posted a review of The Powerpuff Girls Movie on CommonSenseMedia.org. The review describes that the movie "may be a treat for the fans of the show, but its non-stop excitement and sense of humor is going to win over just about anyone", and proceeded to give the movie four stars out of five. However, the film received some mild criticism for some of its violence, which many felt was too extreme for a family-oriented film.
Craig McCracken himself has come out with his own thoughts on the movie. In the documentary The Powerpuff Girls: Who, What Where, How, Why... Who Cares?, he says: "In hindsight, maybe I wish it was a little sillier, a little more lighter, a little more... not so heavy the whole time." In 2016, he brought up on Tumblr that due to the film's production, he has no interest in making theatrical films.
The film earned $3.5 million and ninth place in its opening weekend, and had ultimately grossed $16 million worldwide against its $11 million budget and was considered to be a box office bomb.
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