If you’re unfamiliar with Cartoon Network/Kids’ WB’s superheroine sensation “The Powerpuff Girls,” don’t be afraid to take a chance with this animated action blast. Fans and newcomers alike will find something new and exciting in the feature film version of the same name, which details the origin of — as a newspaper headline in the film hilariously describes them — these “freaky bug-eyed weirdo girls.” The Powerpuff Girls are brainy redhead Blossom, giggly blonde Bubbles, and attitude-heavy brunette Buttercup, lab creations of Professor Utonium, who unwittingly made these kick-a*s, pint-sized paragons of machisma when he mixed sugar, spice, and everything nice with the mysterious Chemical X.
The skimpy sliver that is the film’s story shouldn’t be too surprising, as the series covers the Girls’ basic origin in the first 30 seconds of every episode. But just because the main plot — megalomaniacal monkey Mojo Jojo tricks the Girls into using their powers for one of his dastardly schemes — is slim doesn’t mean the movie is overall. Director/series creator Craig McCracken and his animation team deliver exactly what they set out to offer, which is (as the MPAA rating reasons rather amusingly put it) “non-stop frenetic animated action,” and are there a number of genuinely exciting sequences, all refreshingly done without the slightest hint of CG help. That all the action in the movie comes with the wit and memorable characters one has come to expect from the television series is just icing on the cake.
The inclusion of a pre-movie “Dexter’s Laboratory” short may seem like more icing, but it’s far from up to that show’s usually entertaining standards. Boy genius Dexter develops a case of the chickenpox, and all his itching and scratching leads to a thuddingly unremarkable and highly predictable punchline. Thankfully, the same cannot be said of the main “Powerpuff” feature, which may be formulaic but never fails to find other ways to entertain.