Thursday, September 10, 2020

Movie Review: Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe

Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe *** ½ / *****
Directed by: Bob Bowen.
Written by: Dan Povenmire & Jeff 'Swampy' Marsh and Jon Colton Barry and Jim Bernstein and Joshua Pruett and Kate Kondell and Jeffrey M. Howard and Bob Bowen based on characters created by Povenmire & Marsh.
Starring: Vincent Martella (Phineas), Ashley Tisdale (Candace), David Errigo Jr. (Ferb), Dan Povenmire (Dr. Doofenshmirtz), Alyson Stoner (Isabella), Maulik Pancholy (Baljeet), Bobby Gaylor (Buford), Dee Bradley Baker (Perry / Mama / Additional Voices), Olivia Olson (Vanessa), Ali Wong (Super Super Big Doctor), Wayne Brady (Stapler-Fist), Thomas Middleditch (Garnoz), Diedrich Bader (Borthos), Thomas Sanders (Throat-Lobster), Caroline Rhea (Mom), Richard O'Brien (Dad), Mitchel Musso (Jeremy), Kelly Hu (Stacy), Jeff 'Swampy' Marsh (Major Monogram), Tyler Alexander Mann (Carl), John O'Hurley (Roger Doofenshmirtz), 'Weird Al' Yankovic (Shirt Cannon Guy), Tiffany Haddish (The Sound Someone Makes When They Explode From The Waist Up).

There really is no denying that Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe is a cynical ploy by Disney to get more “original” content for Disney+ to keep subscribers happy. It’s a low risk endeavor, because even if the show the movie is based on went off the air five years ago, it lives on in countless repeats, and of course, on Disney+ itself. The brainchild of Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh – the show was ingenious in the ways it found to essentially repeat itself every episode. The title characters are stepbrothers, and geniuses, who create some super complicated device in their backyard one day, their teenage sister, Candace, wants to bust them, and every episode she just about does it. The only problem is that the boys pet Platypus, Perry, is really a secret agent in disguise, and every episode, he has to foil the plot of the “evil” Dr. Doofenshmirtz, who is always inventing an “enator” of some kind – and those devices will inevitably make whatever the boys invented disappear right before their mother finds out. The same thing happened every episode, for 222 episodes, over an 8-year span. And most of it was great – smart and funny, the show had running gags galore, great visual humor, and enough smarter humor that it really was the clichéd show that adults could watch with their children, and love it as much as they did.

Did we need this movie? To be honest, no we didn’t. We probably really didn’t the show anymore after the 2011 movie Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, which showed us exactly what would happen if Candace ever really did bust the boys, and if the boys found out about Perry’s secret identity. It was a high point of the run, but the show merrily continued on its joyous way for 4 years – mainly because the end of the movie erased everyone’s memory, so you can reset it.

And yet, the movie works. It’s always harder to try and make a feature out of a TV show, especially one with such a circular pattern as Phineas and Ferb, where the same thing happens again and again. Yet, even if they’ve been away from it for five years, Povenmire and Marsh know precisely who these characters, what they will do, and put them through their paces well. The plot is, of course, ridiculous. It finds Candace, and Doofensmirtz’s daughter Vanessa, beamed to a distant planet, and the stepbrothers needing to go rescue them – with the help, of course, of Doofensmirtz, and their ragtag group of friends – Isabella, Baljeet and Buford – with Perry tagging along, having to remain hidden. If you haven’t seen the show, then you have no idea who these, characters are – but then why are you reading this at all?

The snag is that Candace doesn’t really want to be rescued. She is idolized on the new planet, and finds a new bestie in Super Super Big Doctor (Ali Wong), who she has much in common with. No, Phineas and Ferb aren’t really doing The Searchers (or Taxi Driver), but they touch on that same dilemma.

Mostly though, the film is just goofy fun. You may be a little disappointed in the songs – always a highlight of the show, but aside from the opening number by Candace, and Doofensmirtz’s wonderful song about “Adulting” you aren’t likely to remember them (and even at their best, the don’t come close to something like Doofensmirtz’s duet with another version of himself in the 2011 movie). Mostly though, the film gets things right, keeps things moving, and has many great moments – often standalone gags (like an alien who escapes – twice).

You easily could have left Phineas and Ferb alone – their legacy is secure, and this doesn’t really add to it. It doesn’t detract from it either though. We are in the “content” days now – where things are made for the sake of them being made, to build a library of “content”. At least this is good.

1 comment:

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