When Disney + originally launched in 2019, one of the bigger titles the streaming service promised was another “Phineas and Ferb” movie. Ending in 2015, “Phineas and Ferb” has been one of the more successful Disney Cartoons of the 2000’s, and a return to the silver screen was something to be excited about. Aside from an hour-long crossover between “Milo Murphy’s Law,” there had been a lack of “Phineas and Ferb” content. But was it worth bringing it back?
“Phineas and Ferb: Candace Against the Universe” is a strange addition to the Phineas and Ferb canon. For one, it’s about Candace – the boys and their friends are rarely the focus of the film.
Instead we follow Candace and her discovery as to why she is the way she is. It sets up the plot to be a buddy comedy between Vanessa and Candace, but quickly Vanessa is sidelined and Candace has been declared the “Chosen One” – leading Candace on the road to discovering why she feels the need to be special in the first place.
It’s supposed to serve as a look into Candace’s mentality, but it makes me think about the other times the show explored these exact themes. Episodes such as “Phineas and Ferb’s Quantum Boogaloo,” “Phineas and Ferb Get Busted!” and even “Phineas and Ferb Across the Second Dimension” all explore variations of this theme, even if due to the return of status quo, the lesson becomes unlearned.
In “Candace Against the Universe,” she finally gets to retain the lessons learned, but to the audience, it feels very much like the same story told again. Candance’s character has a lot of potential, so it was disappointing to see it wasted on a plot that we’d seen before.
Another thing I found disappointing was the timing. “Candace Against the Universe” clocks in at just shy of an hour and thirty minutes and the plot seems to drag on. So many scenes feel long for the sake of filling time, which is something unique to this movie that “Phineas and Ferb” usually overcomes. Part of the perfection of the television show is how neatly they pack the story; rarely do I feel an episode is too long, even the hour-long specials. Yet in this movie, many jokes are dragged out until they pass back into unfunny territory.
However, there were some new aspects to the story that I really appreciated. It felt more adult in a way where the creators seemed to be trying to meet the audience where they are – in this case, closer to Candace than the other kids. Even though the humor has always been smart, now they’re trying to add a more complex message than just “be nice” and “make the most of the day,” which is an interesting direction to move the story in.
The music in this movie is, as always in Phineas and Ferb, incredible. Where most of the songs in the movie do fall victim to the strange editing that is prevalent throughout, the soundtrack itself is charming and perfect for the movie. There’s a wide range – from a ballad about Perry the Platypus, to a musical theatre style number about recapping the status quo.
My personal favorite song is titled “Adulting” and it’s sung by Dr. Doofinshmirtz and Isabella, a duo I would have liked to see more from throughout the movie. In the number, they sing and fight about which of the two are more competent, leading Doofinshmirtz to tell Isabella she can be in charge when she’s older. It’s a funny, charming number that made me wish the movie focused more on the kids and Doof, rather than Candace.
The movie ends the way most “Phineas and Ferb” specials end, with a group number which was very cute and it made me very sentimental. Like the thesis on a paper, it wraps up the movie very well.
Overall, it’s a sweet movie, and for a long-time fan it’s a good watch. It definitely would not be where I started, however, and hopefully this won’t be where Disney decides to end it either.