Maghull, UK – Fans rejoiced when a brand-new feature length film based on beloved animated TV show Phineas and Ferb dropped on Disney+, five years after the end of the series’ original run.
Despite the anticipation, the movie, which came out at the end of August, certainly didn’t disappoint, showcasing all the charm and wit that made the show so successful.
Set before the last episode of the TV show, Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe centers around Candace Flynn (portrayed wonderfully by Ashley Tisdale) who is abducted by aliens that believe her to be their saviour, leading her brothers Phineas and Ferb and the rest of the eccentric core cast to embark on an epic mission to rescue her.
Though this may seem like an average cartoon space adventure, it is the lovable characters and humor from the minds of the television show’s creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh that make the movie so enjoyable.
Running from 2007-2015, Phineas and Ferb was insanely popular, likely due to its original style that set it apart from other shows.
Known for following a clear structure, each episode included the same plot points and catchphrases. At the start of each episode, Phineas announced “Hey , Ferb, I know what we’re gonna do today!” and began building some crazy invention , meanwhile someone would have asked “Hey, where’s Perry?” as their secret agent pet platypus battled Dr. Doofenshmirtz who was always working on a new evil scheme.
Candace tries to “bust” her brothers by showing Mom what they are up to, but just before she sees, all evidence disappears as a result of the explosive conflict between Dr. Doof and Perry.
This is comforting because we know essentially what will happen in each episode, but also allows the show to be extremely creative with the use of structure, exploring many bizarre and colorful ideas and playing with the format, making slight changes each episode and including an array of running gags.
Having established this, it is so exciting to revisit the characters we love, who feel as if they have never been away, as they are taken out of this format to embark on a new adventure.
It is particularly joyous to see characters interact who have not been given the chance to before.
Despite being main characters, Phineas’ gang rarely had any screen time with Dr. Doofenshmirtz, so it’s great to see his dialogue with them. Although his character does feel slightly redundant in the latter half of the movie, his chemistry with the rest of the gang is still spot on.
Just like the TV show, the new film excels in its sharp, witty jokes and reoccurring gags that hit perfectly without feeling forced. The jokes work because they aren’t dumbed down for kids, instead they are written for adults to enjoy, trusting in kids to understand them, too.
Many family films have innuendos that will go straight over the kids’ heads but Phineas and Ferb has always invested in clever humor that both kids and adults will enjoy simultaneously.
The reason Disney wanted Phineas and Ferb content on their streaming service is because it makes for good co-viewing, where 40% of the intended audience are adults, Povenmire and Marsh told Forbes magazine.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that my parents were equally as excited for the film as I was.
By nature, the comedy used in the show was always remarkably self-aware. I remember being mesmerized as a child when there were jokes referencing characters wearing the same clothes every day, which I had always picked up on when watching cartoons.
This is used to great effect in the movie, with hilarious fourth-wall-breaking sequences. It also means no time is wasted with logistics. When the gang need to build a portal, Baljeet says they will need “at least a montage,” later saying, “I stand corrected, it only took a flip wipe.”
Though not taking itself too seriously, the film treats the emotional arcs of the characters with great respect, particularly Candace and her relationship with her brothers. The movie builds on the roles established in the TV show and explores them in more depth, building the plot around this.
Although the character design and art style in the show is generally praised, in certain shots in the movie, the animation looks bizarrely stilted and expressionless. This is likely due to some of the production having to be completed at home due to covid-19 and a reflection on Disney’s desire to comply with release dates.
I still felt that the animation brought warmth and familiarity to the movie.
There’s no doubt that nostalgia benefited my viewing experience, but the movie would definitely be a great introduction to the show for new viewers, who can go back and watch the series on Disney+.
Recently, Disney has capitalized on established franchises, with live action remakes of animated classics and bringing shows like Muppets Now and High School Musical: The Musical – The Series to Disney+.
Clearly Disney is aware of the popularity of Phineas and Ferb and are likely to utilize it further given the positive reception to the movie.
As always, not everyone is pleased. Some are annoyed by issues like character motivation, plot holes with the series and similarities with previous episodes. Then there’s always the age old, “Candace has a mobile phone – why didn’t she just take a photo?” argument.
But Phineas and Ferb: Candace Against the Universe is not meant to be over-analyzed.
It’s fun, witty and imaginative escapism for all ages and I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s next.
Matty Ennis is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.