"The Powerpuff Girls Movie" probably won't make any new converts. And those parents who are troubled by the level of violence in its source material the hit Cartoon Network program won't exactly have their reservations erased.
That's because this animated feature may be one of the most violent kids cartoons ever, which is really saying something.
Yet it's hard to come down too hard on this film, which features deceptively simple, two-dimensional animation (enhanced by digital effects, and detailed shading and backgrounds), as well as a slightly twisted sense of humor that may appeal more to parents than the "Powerpuff" target audience.
The movie also manages to slip in a pair of worthwhile messages (about the strength of family, as well as a plea for acceptance of those who are "different"). And unlike some other television-to-big-screen cartoons, this one doesn't look quite as shabby (especially when compared to "Hey Arnold! The Movie").
"The Powerpuff Girls" tells the origins of the title characters, a trio of young superheroines created by accident in the lab by Professor Utonium (the voice talent of Tom Kane). His experiment grants super-speed, super-strength and super-senses to the three girls, Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup (voices of Christine Cavadini, Tara Strong and E.G. Daily, respectively).
With their powers, however, comes the possibility for destruction and there is a playful rampage that turns the city of Townsville against them. Worse, the evil super-chimp Mojo Jojo (Roger L. Jackson) has tricked them into helping his plan of vengeance against the city. And now only the girls can stop his army of primates and monkeys.
Again, the film is surprisingly violent (it could even be argued that it is suggesting violence as a solution to problems). But the pace is sprightly, and the animation is both colorful and distinctive.
Preceding the feature is "Chicken Scratch," an amusing, eight-minute "Dexter's Laboratory" short about the young mad scientist's bout with chicken pox.
"The Powerpuff Girls" is rated PG for nonstop animated violence (fist fights and explosive mayhem) and some mildly vulgar humor (animal bodily functions). Running time: 78 minutes ("Powerpuff Girls," 70 minutes; "Chicken Scratch," 8 minutes.
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