With $1 billion worth of retail merchandise already rung through the world's cash registers, The Powerpuff Girls Movie hardly needs an introduction. But I, for one, had not made the acquaintance of Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup ' the Cartoon Network's ass-kicking supertykes ' until I saw the movie version flying toward me. As a result of a lab experiment gone both good and bad, the Powerpuff Girls combine sugar, spice and everything nice with powers that most arch villains would kill for. In addition to the flying thing, they have superhuman strength, laser-beam eyes and...each other. Though similarly powerful, Superman, an only child, works alone. The Powerpuff sisters work together, and let me tell you, sisterhood is powerpuffable.
The movie isn't, particularly. I enjoyed its design, which harks back to UPA in the '40s and '50s, Hanna-Barbera in the '60s and '70s. Everything's stripped down ' the girls are just a series of linked ovals topped with perfect-circle heads that contain perfect-circle eyes big enough to take in the whole world at a glance ' but a good animator knows how to use such limitations to his or her advantage. (See "South Park.") Craig McCracken, who created the series and oversaw each frame of the movie, appears to have studied at the feet of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Underdog, not to mention Speed Racer and Astro Boy. Timing is everything, of course, and some of the movie's best moments are when the Powerpuff Girls just float there, staring out at us. I also loved their color-coded contrails as they whip around Townsville, first wreaking havoc, then saving the day.
An origin story, the movie delineates how the girls were created when the square-jawed (square-everythinged) Professor Utonium decided things in Townsville weren't sugary, spicy or nice enough. And at first the girls are as clumsy with their powers as the young Superman was. Then, after nearly obliterating the downtown area while playing tag, they're told not to use them, Ã la "Bewitched." But you can't keep a good girl down, let alone three good girls. I wished McCracken had differentiated their personalities a little more ' it's like watching Mighty Mouse times three ' but maybe that's the point. By working together, girls/women can save, and perhaps conquer, the world. And boys/men are quite prepared to watch it all unfold, apparently. According to what I've read, 56% of the series' audience is male.