Disney // 2008 // 112 Minutes // Rated G
Reviewed by Judge Jim Thomas // August 6th, 2008
There's a hundred-four days of summer vacation
And school comes along just to end it.
So the annual problem for our generation
Is finding a good way to spend it...
Nursery Manager: "Aren't you a little young to be a landscape
Phineas: "Yes. Yes, I am."
Disney's cartoon lineup has been somewhat inconsistent. On the one hand, you have The Emperor's New School, which is just tedious; on the other you have Kim Possible, which is just righteous. Well, move over, Kim, because Phineas and Ferb are taking over the top spot. Kim has her hands full saving the world, but Phineas and Ferb have a much more important job -- having as much fun as possible.
Phineas Flynn and Ferb Fletcher are stepbrothers who live with older sister Candace Flynn and their parents in Danville, Illinois. The boys (I'm guessing that they're around 10 years old) want their summer vacation to be memorable, so every day they pull off unbelievable and often outlandish stunts -- building a rocket, fighting a mummy, becoming flash-in-the-pan rock stars, giving a monkey a shower, etc. When Candace isn't trying to look cool for her would-be boyfriend Jeremy, she's trying to rat the boys out; however, even though the boys make no attempt to hide what they are doing, the boys' actions are always inadvertently covered up by the actions of the boys' pet, Perry the Platypus, who is really secret agent "Agent P," constantly battling the diabolical Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz (Dr. D from here on out).
The disc has ten shorts (from five episodes):
* "One Good Scare Ought to Do It, Parts I & II" -- The guys build the ultimate haunted house to scare the hiccups out of their friend Isabella. Meanwhile, Perry must thwart Dr. D's. plans to use his Disintevaporator Ray to destroy the secret lair of his mentor.
* "The Fast and The Phineas" -- The guys trick out their mom's car and enter a race, with Isabella and her scout troop as pit crew. Dr. D plots to use his Deflatinator ray to deflate all the tires in the race.
* "Lawn Gnome Beach Party of Terror" -- Seriously, what description could possibly do justice to this title?
* "Are You My Mummy" -- During a mummy movie festival at the museum, the guys decide to explore the museum in search of their very own mummy. There's a truly twisted musical bit inspired by the theme song from The Courtship of Eddie's Father. Perry Platypus must prevent Dr. D from using his Woodenator to destroy a beaver dam in order to raise the level of the ocean.
* "Flop Starz" -- Our intrepid duo hatches an elaborate plan to become one-hit wonders, striking gold with their single "Gitchee Gitchee Goo," which sounds exactly like something The Archies would have churned out in their heyday. Perry races to stop Dr. D's skyscraper robot from destroying the city.
* "Raging Bully" -- Phineas finds himself facing off against Buford, the school bully, in a no-holds-barred thumb wrestling match, and seeks expert training from Evander Holyfield. Dr. D tries to celebrate his birthday by using his Slavenator to take over the world.
* "Lights, Candace, Action -- Candace lands the lead in the movie The Princess Sensibilities, only to discover that the film is being directed by Phineas and Ferb, who tweak the script a wee bit. Dr. D, who has renounced evil, creates the Age Accelerator-inator so that he can pursue his new dream of becoming a cheesemaker.
* "It's About Time, Parts I & II" -- The guys build a time machine; a mistake dumps them and Candace in the age of dinosaurs. Perry the Platypus must come to terms with his emotions when Dr. D dumps him for a new nemesis, Peter Panda.
It's hard not to like Phineas and Ferb. They're basically younger versions of Ferris Bueller (complete with jealous older sister). They're intelligent, well-mannered, active -- moreover, they aren't trying to hurt anyone or get in trouble; they just want to maximize their summer fun. Who can't relate to that? Better still, the boys don't just sit around playing video games or watching TV, but are out playing.
The boys' relationship with Candace is central to the show. They love her -- Phineas is excited at the prospect of Candace singing with Phineas and the Ferb-tones in "Flop Starz." But for whatever reason -- most likely Older Sister Syndrome -- she resents the boys' wild abandon, a feeling exacerbated by her inability to rat them out.
The secret life of Perry Platypus is a surreal stroke of genius. It provides a clever means to keep the boys' shenanigans from being discovered and it prevents story lines from dragging, but most importantly, in a world in which a platypus saves the world, nothing the boys do seems quite so farfetched. That sort of warped humor is in evidence throughout; for instance, in "Raging Bully," the obligatory montage of Phineas in training is intercut with Buford the Bully's training -- using gym equipment to practice giving wedgies and swirlies.
Video is solid. The show features simple yet stylized animation, fairly similar to The Emperor's New School. At times the animation is a bit too simplistic, but overall it gets the job done.
The Dolby 2.0 mix is clear and aggressive, punching up the action nicely. Actually, given the amount of music and general chaos in the show, a 5.1 mix would punch things up even more.
There are some typical Disney extras -- games and an activity center, which the kids will like. They also have the "pitch" made by show creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh. The pitch is the first episode of the series, "Rollercoaster" (not included on this disc), shown through storyboards, with Povenmire and Marsh performing the dialogue, as well as an early version of the opening song. Cartoons are generally sold with pitches such as this instead of pilots due to the costs of assembling an animation team for a single short. If you're a fan of cartoons in general, this is a fun extra -- kids probably won't be that interested.
A bigger problem -- more of annoyance -- is Disney's money-grubbing pattern of releasing individual DVDs instead of complete seasons. 'Cause I'm gonna have to get the rest of them.
This disc has it all -- action, adventure, high drama, low comedy, musical numbers, and a platypus who's a secret agent. Watch the opening sequence and get sucked in by the show's raw exuberance. My kids eat it up, and the sly pop-culture references make it fun for parents as well.
Phineas and Ferb rule!
Er, not guilty.
Review content copyright © 2008 Jim Thomas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 112 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated G
* Original Pitch by Creator Dan Povenmire
* Phineas & Ferb's Homemade Tree Shade Arcade (Games and Activities)
* Official Site
* Wikipedia: Phineas and Ferb