Girls: sugary, but no spice

"Powerpuff Girls," the movie, could use a little more power and a lot less puff in its storyline.

This first feature film based on the Cartoon Network series tells how the wide-eyed kindergarten heroines – Blossom, Buttercup, and Bubbles – became protectors of good for the City of Townsville.

Not surprisingly, boys and girls at a preview screening held ruthlessly opposite views of the film. Boys reacted as if their sisters had handed them a Malibu Barbie to play with.

"It's stupid," one boy remarked.

Girls, on the other hand, left the theater squealing with delight and grasping eagerly for the free Powerpuff bracelets. "I love the Powerpuff girls!" a little girl chirped.

The story begins when the affable Professor Utonium mixes together sugar, spice, and everything nice to try to create a perfect daughter. But when his mischievous lab monkey douses the recipe with Chemical X, three five-year-old girls pop up, blinking bright-eyed and bobbing in the air like helium balloons.

They quickly discover other superhuman powers to go along with their ability to fly. Cheerful and sweet, they mix high-pitched "Tee-hee-hees," with chores and good deeds – darting around the house in pastel green, blue, and pink lightning-bug streaks.

But on their first day of kindergarten, an innocent game of high-speed tag turns reckless, nearly razing the city. The residents are understandably livid, and the girls feel like misfits. The situation is not helped when the mutant monkey Mojo Jojo (don't ask) tricks them into helping him build a machine to take over the world.

Eventually, they rally to save the town and to "get that monkey off our backs!"

The film's animation is bright and colorful, but simplistic, and the dialogue is snappy and straightforward, with few clever lines. (Though one good sight gag comes when they use their laser-vision to slice crusts off PB&J sandwiches.)

Young children will enjoy the lighthearted humor and adventure. There also are lessons about the importance of doing good and understanding that it's OK to be different.

Adults may find it's more amusing to take several long trips to the snack counter – or catch "MIB II" at the theater next door.

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