A pointless endeavor: ‘Phineas and Ferb: Candace Against the Universe’

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September 4, 2020

Before we start the review, we would like to warn you that this review contains a good amount of spoilers. You have been warned. 

Phineas and Ferb, a cartoon recognized by many, is often characterized by its lovable cast. From the kind-hearted Phineas (Vincent Martella) and stoic Ferb (David Errigo Jr.) to the clumsy antagonist Dr. Doofenshmirtz (Doof) (Dan Povenmire), it is safe to say that every main cast member has their own unique personality that keeps fans coming back. Given that the show came to its end over five years ago, diehard fans have been holding their breath for this new addition of the franchise, hoping that it would live up to the high expectations of both the series and the movies. It did not.

Those of you familiar with Phineas and Ferb know that each episode follows the same general pattern. These patterns and similarities are part of what makes Phineas and Ferb, well, Phineas and Ferb. Unfortunately, we have to say that “Candace Against the Universe” did not follow this general pattern, and as a result, it felt like we were left with a movie struggling to find its identity in its own franchise.

In “Candace Against the Universe,” Candace (Ashley Tisdale) finds herself at the end of a typical Phineas and Ferb episode. Candace is so close to busting her brothers, but falls seconds short. Frustrated with her life and brothers, Candace expresses her grievances to Vanessa (Olivia Olson), starting a chain of events that takes them to Feebla-Oot, a planet in the Vroblock Cluster, where Candace is considered “the chosen one.” Seeing Candace fly away, Phineas and Ferb gather their friends to help them save Candace. Along the way they join forces with Doof, who is on a mission to save his daughter, Vanessa. Perry the Platypus (Dee Bradley Baker), Phineas and Ferb’s pet and Doof’s nemesis, secretly follows them all to space.  

Two of the most ubiquitous patterns seen throughout the series is Isabella’s (Alyson Stoner) “Hey Phineas, whatcha doin” and “Hey, where’s Perry?” when someone notices Perry is gone. Neither of these lines were spoken a single time throughout the movie, which those of you who are fans of the show will know that this is a very abnormal thing in a Phineas and Ferb episode. Additionally, in every episode, Phineas and Ferb build some massive and impressive structures and the audience usually gets to see construction of said structure. Although they did build a big clown and robots throughout the episode, both happened off-screen and were not central to the plot.

It seems as though in the decade since their last movie, Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh have lost touch with the true identity of characters they created. In the original series, Phineas appears as the leader of the group of friends—which consists of his step-brother Ferb, and their friends Isabella, Baljeet (Maulik Pancholy) and Buford (Bobby Gaylor). In “Candace Against the Universe,” Phineas appeared to be a secondary character at best. Instead there was a power struggle between Isabella and Dr. Doofenshmirtz, which was out of character for them. In the series, Isabella was the leader of the FireSide Girls, but never attempted to become the leader of the friend group. However in “Candace Against the Universe,” when they end up on Feebla-Oot, she tries to prove to Doof that she should be the one leading them because of all the patches she has earned during her time with the FireSide Girls (which was something else extremely out of character for her: never in the past has she bragged about her achievements).  Baljeet and Buford, who never really were major characters in the show, appeared to have played an even smaller role in this movie, and didn’t even have their usual trope of Buford making fun of Baljeet. 

The only character that remained—relatively—true to himself was Doof, who as always would do anything, including going to a different planet in a homemade rocket-inator, to help his daughter, Vanessa. Although there were some questionable moments with Doof, the largest of which was the utter lack of on screen time with his nemesis, Perry the Platypus. For us, Perry and Doofenshmirtz are the best part of Phineas and Ferb, and not seeing them on screen together was a massive disappointment. Although Perry did follow the gang to space, he was usually saving them behind the scenes, the only on-screen time he had with Doof was at the end of the movie, after Phineas and Ferb left Feebla-Oot.  

Speaking of forgotten, Vanessa barely had any screen time. After being dropped off in the forest of Feebla-Oot, she is not shown or mentioned until closer to the end of the movie, which makes it obvious that the only reason she was taken with Candace was to include Doof in the rescue mission. 

Candace, who never topped the list of our favorite characters, was as frustrating as ever. Candace is the annoying older sister who always wants to bust her brothers and is obsessed with her boyfriend, Jeremy (Mitchel Musso). She only wanted to bust Phineas and Ferb for the first few minutes of the movie, but seems to have completely forgotten that Jeremy exists. 

The truly annoying part is that Candace once again fails to realize that her brothers are actually great and that she loves them. How many episodes dedicated to this theme can there be? It is just getting old at this point. What happened to the time travel episode where she actually busts them? Or the previous movie? How many times does Candace need to learn this lesson? Also “Candace Against the Universe?” More like Candace against maybe two dozen aliens whose upper bodies explode when they get excited.

This movie is best summed up by the words of Ferb: “we should never speak of this again.” 

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