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. Directed by series' creator Craig McCracken at his feature-length directorial debut from a screenplay written by himself, Charlie Bean, Lauren Faust, Paul Rudish and Don Shank, the film stars the regular television cast of Cathy Cavadini, Tara Strong, E. G. Daily, Roger L. Jackson, Tom Kane, Tom Kenny, and Jennifer Hale. Serving as a prequel to the series, the film tells the origin story of how the Powerpuff Girls were created and how they came to be the defenders of Townsville. James L. Venable, who composed the score for the series, composed the film's score.
|The Powerpuff Girls Movie|
|Directed by||Craig McCracken|
|Based on||The Powerpuff Girls|
by Craig McCracken
|Produced by||Donna Castricone|
|Edited by||Rob DeSales|
|Music by||James L. Venable|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$16.4 million|
Produced by Cartoon Network Studios as its first theatrical film, The Powerpuff Girls Movie was theatrically released on July 3, 2002 by Warner Bros. Pictures. The film received positive reviews but was a box office bomb, only grossing $16 million against a budget of $11 million.
In the crime and injustice-riddled city of Townsville, Professor Utonium creates a mixture of sugar, spice, and everything nice in the hopes of producing the "perfect little girls" to improve Townsville. However, he gets shoved by his laboratory assistant, the destructive chimpanzee Jojo, which causes him to accidentally break and spill a flask of Chemical X onto the concoction. 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.
On their first day of school, the girls learn about the game of tag and begin to play it among themselves, which quickly grows destructive once they use their powers. The girls take their game downtown, where they accidentally cause 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. Believing that using their powers again will only anger the townspeople more, the girls try to make their way home from school on foot, but they become lost in an alleyway and are attacked by the Gangreen Gang. They are rescued by Jojo, whose brain has been mutated by the Chemical X explosion, giving him superintelligence.
Planning control of the city and revenge on the Professor for replacing him with the girls, Jojo gains the girls' sympathy by convincing them that he is also hated for his powers; he tricks the girls into helping him build a laboratory and machine powered by Chemical X, which he claims will earn them the affections of the city. Afterwards, Jojo rewards the girls with a trip to the local zoo, where he secretly implants small transportation devices on all the primates there, to which that night Jojo brings the primates to his lab and uses his new machine to inject them with Chemical X, which turns 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 that the city is under attack by the primates. Jojo, renaming himself as Mojo Jojo, publicly announces the girls as his assistants, which damages their reputation further and makes the distraught Professor lose 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 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 Jojo injects himself with Chemical X and grows into a giant monster, overpowering the girls in an intense battle. Rejecting Mojo Jojo'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 Jojo 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, but the people of Townsville protest against this and apologize for misjudging them, thanking them for their heroic deeds. At the request of Townsville's Mayor, Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup agree to use their powers to defend Townsville with the Professor's permission, becoming the city's beloved crime-fighting superhero team "The Powerpuff Girls".
- Cathy Cavadini as Blossom
- Tara Strong as Bubbles
- E. G. Daily as Buttercup
- Roger L. Jackson as Mojo Jojo
- Tom Kane as Professor Utonium and Talking Dog
- Tom Kenny as the Mayor of Townsville, Narrator, Mitch Mitchelson, Snake, and Lil' Arturo
- Jennifer Hale as Ms. Sandy Keane
- Jennifer Martin as Ms. Sarah Bellum
- Jeff Bennett as Ace, Big Billy, and Grubber
- Grey DeLisle and Phil LaMarr as additional character voices
- Frank Welker as various evil primates
- Kevin Michael Richardson as Rocko Socko and Ojo Tango
- Rob Paulsen as Hotta Watta and Killa Drilla
When developing the film, series' creator and director Craig McCracken did not want it to appeal exclusively to girls as the derivative merchandise made it out to be (with jewelry and necklaces being sold with the characters plastered over it) and wanted to make an action-comedy film that felt closer to his conception of the Powerpuff Girls. When deciding what the final plot would be, the crew had "one that was purely an action show, and then one that was more of a subtle character piece"; Cartoon Network liked both of them, so the result is an hybrid. McCracken said that there was no real difference when directing a film in comparison to a standard TV episode:
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.
The Powerpuff Girls' TV series was also known for its audience being highly composed by "underground" adults; the movie's intend was in part to appeal to that demographic, and —according to Cartoon Network executives— "spark sales of DVDs and home videos, pack in crowds overseas and set kids scrambling to buy cartoon-themed merchandise", also calling the attention of more girls and teens. Jim Samples, executive vice president and general manager of the network, saw the year 2002 as a good opportunity to bring the show to the big screen, given the success of family movies such as Disney's Lilo & Stitch and the live action adaptation of the Scooby-Doo cartoon. During production, McCracken was encouraged by Cartoon Network to make an edgier movie; he recalled 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 film's animation was provided by Rough Draft Korea, with additional digital compositing and effects done at Mercury Filmworks and additional animation done at Munich Animation Film. All the work done overseas was then shipped to Los Angeles, where the main crew put every single shot together digitally at the then newly opened Cartoon Network Studios. The movie keeps the staple look of the television series, with characters such as the Powerpuff Girls and the Professor having a mostly geometric look. The backgrounds are hand-drawn with some computer-generated enhancements. It also went on to have some minor edits in pacing for the final cut, but "nothing so disastrous that it affected the final film", in McCracken's words. It was noted that the promotion was rather limited when compared to that of other animated feature films that premiered around the same year, such as Hey Arnold!: The Movie. However, the creator said that Warner Bros. was putting $20 million into promoting the film. Some of the production process was also documented for subsequent home releases of the product. According to McCracken, 49 half-hour episodes of the TV series had been made up to that point, but they went on hiatus to focus on the making of the movie.
The crew was also against including pop songs or any musical numbers that could interfere "in the body of the story", in order to respect audience expectations. However, the final credits are accompanied by a punk-rock version of the TV show's ending theme by Bis, Black Francis' "Pray for the Girls" and a song by the pop group No Secrets, titled "That's What Girls Do". James L. Venable composed the original score blending traditional orchestration with electronica. He had listened to "old monster movie scores" and acts such as The Chemical Brothers and Propellerheads to achieve the series musical style, which was then poured into the movie. McCracken thought the band Gorillaz was fitting to bring the film's final credits song, considering that the plot was about "evil monkeys attacking Townsville" and the band members are animated. Gorillaz' creators Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn showed interest in making the song, but their schedule made it impossible to accomplish.
Promotion and releaseEdit
By February 2002, the film was already being promoted on Cartoon Network's official website, where details about the "Be an Artist" contest were available, prompting fans from the United States under the age of 18 to send their drawings and have the opportunity for it to appear in a scene from the movie. One of Delta Express' Boeing 737-200 planes featured a special Powerpuff Girls Movie aircraft, and customers were given promotional items regarding the movie, including activity sheets, temporary tattoos and buttons. In Latin America, kids could enter a contest in which the first place winner could earn 3 tickets for the film and a video camera. Prior to the release of the film, Daisy Rock produced a heart-shaped, 3/4 scale, pink guitar featuring all three Powerpuff Girls, and another one featuring Mojo Jojo in a "premium alder body" with a 24-3/4" scale. Both instruments had a limited release. Out of the one hundred, some were given to cable viewers during the Cartoon Cartoon Fridays prime time block on May 31, 2002. A few others were available on Cartoon Network's online store for a short period. Artists who participated in the first two Powerpuff Girls soundtracks also got their own copy.
A premiere screening was held by Warner Bros. at Century City in California on June 23, 2002, to which a part of the film's cast and crew attended, as well as celebrities such as Melissa Gilbert, Danny Bonaduce, Christine Lahti, Harry Hamlin and Lisa Renee Foiles. The Powerpuff Girls Movie was released in theaters on July 3, 2002, before making its television debut on Cartoon Network on May 23, 2003. In theaters, the film was accompanied by a G-rated Dexter's Laboratory short titled "Chicken Scratch", in which Dexter gets chickenpox and tries not to scratch to avoid turning into an actual chicken.
The film was released on Region 1 VHS and DVD on November 5, 2002. 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. As of 2021, the film has yet to be released on Blu-ray and Digital.
As of October 2020[update], on Rotten Tomatoes, the film had an approval rating of 63% based on 103 reviews, with an average rating of 6.14/10. The site's critics consensus read: "It plays like an extended episode, but The Powerpuff Girls Movie is still lots of fun." As of October 2020[update], on Metacritic, the film had a weighted average score of 65 out of 100, based on 25 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[better source needed]
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 gave the film four stars out of a possible five, saying that the film "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". Virginia Heffernan of The New York Times said that "the movie is cute [...] but its violent, snickering style is pure Americana", and that it evokes the "outlandish classic" look of McCracken's inspirations. Ben Nuckols wrote for The Associated Press that the protagonist's big eyes where the "only remarkable thing", which he considered "a shame, because the girls are delightful and the movie is skillfully made". New Sunday Times praised the animation —particularly the sequence were the Powerpuff Girls play tag— and said that "there's a lot to like about this movie"; overall, it called it a "a good first movie".
Jerry Beck wrote for Animation World Network that the film was "good looking [...] but suffered from story problems", whereas Christene Meyers, from Billings Gazette, thought that the story could have been told in a few minutes. Contrarily, IGN's KJB said that the movie did not "overstay its welcome" with its 70-minutes length run and gave it 4 out of 5 stars. Dan Via, writing for The Washington Post, said that "even with its flaws, The Powerpuff Girls Movie offers dramatic pacing, cleverness and charm that are hard to come by in the summertime multiplex", ranging from moments of "epic stillness to the crash-bang-kapow flash of the action sequences". Mariano Kairuz, from the Argentine newspaper Página/12, wrote: "It's one of the happily bizarre cartoon movies to hit theaters in quite some time. One might even wonder how Cartoon Network and Warner authorized the multi-million dollar budget for something that looks and feels somewhat uncommercial". Marc Savlov from The Austin Chronicle gave the film 3 and a half stars out of 5, describing it as "retro fun that contains a serious self-empowerment message for little girls and little boys alike", as well as "brilliant, wacky, and utterly charming fluff". In a review for the newspaper Riverfront Times, Gregory Weinkauf said that the film's exploration of the girl's emotions during the asteroid scene was "a brilliant sequence" before the "blaze of chaotic action" of the third act. However, he was critical about the film's "bizarre anal sensibilities" (e.g. "cheeky shots of monkey butts — electroshocks slithering up into them [and] turd-bombs plopping out of them") and what he deemed as a "psychosexual fodder" of the Mayor having a "pickle fetish" and Sara Bellum's "voluptuous curves [that] fill the frame but whose actual head and identity as a mature woman are curiously omitted." In 2019, Paste magazine ranked it 72nd on its list of the 100 best superhero movies of all time.
The film also received some mild criticism for its violence, which many felt was too extreme for a family-oriented film, especially in the wake of the 9/11 attacks the previous year. As such, Roger Ebert gave the film a negative review, criticizing the film's overuse of violence and destruction and saying the film was upsetting to watch after the 9/11 attacks. His co-host Richard Roeper also gave the film a negative review, calling it a "freaky and annoying little film".
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 said: "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 stated that due to the politics of the film's production he would stick to TV rather than movies.
«The kids didn't come—a lot of boys who were fans of it didn't want to tell people they were fans of it and didn't buy tickets. There's a safety of watching Powerpuff at home if you're a guy»
The Powerpuff Girls Movie premiered in multiple theaters around the United States on July 3, 2002. Because of the popularity of the TV show, analysts predicted that the movie would generate $15 million over the Fourth of July weekend. However, it only earned $6.1 million over its first five days of showing, ranking ninth at the North American box office due to its competition with Men in Black II. Brandon Gray, a Box Office Mojo editor, asserted that "it didn't help that at many of the venues the picture didn't have evening showings, alienating many of the TV show's older fans". By July 26, 2002, the film had dropped to #34 on the US box office ranking. Ultimately, it grossed $11.4 million domestically and $5 million overseas, for a worldwide total of $16.4 million, making it a box-office bomb considering its $11 million budget. Screen Rant lists it as one of the 25 lowest-grossing superhero movies at the global box office.
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