Directed by: Bob Bowen
Written by: Dan Povenmire, Jeff "Swampy" Marsh, Jon Colton Barry, Jim Bernstein and Joshua Pruett
Starring: Ashley Tisdale, Ali Wong, Vincent Martella
Disney’s Phineas and Ferb was a great animated musical comedy series that had a strong and consistent 4 season run that focused on the adventures of two boys passing summer by building inventions, their sister trying to get them in trouble and their pet platypus fighting an evil scientist. It was clever, had great characters and a positive upbeat tone that made every episode a joy to watch. A movie of the series has arrived on Disney+, which is not the first Phineas and Ferb film to have been made, the previous being the solid if a bit inaccessible to newcomers Across the 2nd Dimension. This film is similarly inaccessible to newcomers (If you're not already a fan then maybe watch a bunch of episodes before this) and similarly solid.
Yet another failed attempt at getting her brothers Phineas (Vincent Martella) and Ferb (David Ergo Jr) "busted" causes Candace (Ashley Tisdale) to go on an emotional tirade that ends with her being abducted by aliens. Phineas and Ferb go into space to rescue Candace with their friends and Dr Doofenschmirtz (Dan Povenmire), the nemesis of their secret agent pet platypus Perry (Dee Bradley Baker). Meanwhile Candace is given the opportunity to be deemed “special” by the alien overlord she was kidnapped by, Super Super Big Doctor (Ali Wong), which she takes up despite the mission of her brothers.
Candace Against the Universe does manage to transcend being an extended episode, though the story itself is not complicated or unpredictable in the slightest it has more stakes and is emotionally and thematically deeper than even some of the special episodes. It tells a self-contained and more personal story that may or may not go against the (admittedly loose) canon of the series but regardless is still fast paced, entertaining and charming.
As for the characters, most of the main cast are well utilised. Candace especially is given the most interesting arc and taken to the most depths that we have seen all series long. She is incredibly sympathetic and the emotional moments with her give the film it’s heart, with the finale being especially touching.
The rest of the returning characters are endearing as always, with the new characters also fitting in well, especially Super Super Big Doctor, who is actually one of the more complex one-off P+F characters for reasons that will not be divulged. If there is one flaw it's that only a few of the returning characters feel like they have a story purpose, with the inclusion of others, like Perry or Doofenschmitz feeling more obligatory and there just to solve conflicts, though both of these characters specifically get their fun moments.
But the main aspect that entertains is the humour, as the comedy is extremely creative and often very funny. The jokes that do not land are a few that deliberately go on too long, with only a couple of them being genuinely funny, whilst many of the ones that do land are many meta jokes that do not distract from narrative investment and are rather inventive. The creative team still clearly have passion for this series and put genuine effort into exploring new jokes and ideas rather than just relying on old ones for nostalgia's sake.
On the technical side, the animation does start out spotty and is overall inconsistent, but as the film goes on it becomes less distracting and much more appealing, with the bigger budget really being put to good use in some great action scenes. The orchestral score is surprisingly fantastic and all the songs are either catchy or funny, with a surprising amount of variety in genre. Finally, the voice acting is still great from all the returning actors, especially the always entertaining Ashley Tisdale, and of the new actors Ali Wong is easily the most charismatic.
Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against The Universe will likely entertain and please fans of the show and whilst it is flawed and overall nothing particularly masterful, for a film that could have easily been a mere example of Disney+ content filler, it is much better than it has any right to be.