In 2007, Disney Channel released “Phineas and Ferb,” a cartoon created by Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh. The series follows the adventures of two brothers and their friends as their pet platypus secretly thwarts the schemes of a mad scientist. The show was a phenomenal success, going on to produce four seasons, a 2011 movie, as well as achieve critical acclaim through its reviews, nominations and awards.
With the show’s previous success, the announcement of the 2020 movie “Phineaes and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against The Universe,” exclusively on the streaming service Disney+, was sure to stir excitement. For the most part, it was an absolute riot that brought attention to the glory days of the franchise with its clever jokes, catchy musical numbers and bombastic ideas.
Candace’s spotlight is a welcome one.
Unlike the previous movie, the story focuses on their sister Candace as she struggles to find validation from her peers over her brothers Phineas and Ferb, believing that the universe is against her. Shortly after, she finds herself and her friend Vanessa abducted by an alien pod and taken to another world. With the help of mad scientist, Dr. Doofenshmirtz, and secret agent Perry the platypus, the brothers and friends travel to outer space in pursuit of the aliens and in rescue of Candace and Vanessa.
Candace’s character has been viewed as being at war with her brothers, as she always tries to “bust” Phineas and Ferb for their outlandish inventions. However, instead of focusing on Candace’s complicated and strenuous relationship with her brothers, the writers opted for a more in-depth look at Candace’s own self-validation from not only her peers, but herself.
Candace laments initially at her shortcomings, but upon meeting another character with a similar toxic mindset, she grows to understand her place within the world. Episodes in the main series often depicted Candace as a heartless sister who lived to expose her brothers’ fun, so to see this level of emotional complexity within a two dimensional character was everything a 10-year-old me would have wanted to see.
Phineas and Ferb has always been such a quotable show, similar to how Spongebob references are now a commonplace. The film’s writing has that same effect, as some jokes tend to stick with you. Running gags are prevalent, though not used to the extent as they were frequently featured in the show.
One aspect of comedy that was utilized in the film were moments when the characters broke the fourth wall. Breaking the fourth wall is when characters within a medium are aware of their fictitious nature, leading to moments when they mess with their environment in a way that only the people creating the medium may do.
One particular gag involved the cartoon devolving into a rough storyboarding animation scene, showing creators Povenmire and Marsh in the storyboard room playing along with the joke before going back into the movie. This had never been done before in the franchise, but it made me laugh hysterically.
In addition to its writing, the songs in the film are phenomenal. Such delicacy and effort were put into the lyrics, tracks and vocals. Viewers could tell that everyone involved in the musical aspect of the film was genuinely having a good time. Musical numbers ranged from good to absolutely catchy, with “Adulting” being my personal favorite song.
“Phineas and Ferb: Candace Against The Universe” was a triumphant return to the roots of a beloved franchise. The style of humor has not faltered from the last time I viewed the show. Songs are still as catchy and addictive as ever and the animation is reminiscent of the show, which makes you feel like you’re watching an extended episode of the series. It all works well together to the point where veteran fans and newcomers feel the same emotions when they watch it.