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Disney classic returns to the screen


     On August 28, 2020, Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe was released to viewers on Disney+. Written by the original writers of the TV show, Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, and featuring the return of nearly the entire voice cast, the movie is the first new entry in the world of Phineas and Ferb since the show’s conclusion in 2015. Having such positive memories of the classic Disney TV show, many fans, myself included, were anxious that the film might not live up to its immensely popular predecessor. Thankfully, I can assure readers that this was not the case.

     For those who are unfamiliar with Phineas and Ferb, each episode has a very similar plot structure. Each day of summer, step-brothers Phineas and Ferb contemplate how to alleviate their boredom. Eventually, they come up with a wildly outrageous but entertaining idea, including but not limited to: building a functional beach resort in their backyard, creating a cloning device and building a citywide rollercoaster. Their older sister Candace, voiced by the iconic Ashley Tisdale, immediately catches on and sets about “busting” them to their oblivious mom, Linda. Meanwhile their pet platypus Perry, secretly an agent for O.W.C.A. (the Organization Without a Cool Name) investigates the latest shenanigans by Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz, a divorced “evil scientist” who is surprisingly bad at being evil. Inevitably, the step-brothers’ creation of the day is accidentally disposed of by Doofenshmirtz’s latest “inator” just before Candace can reveal it to their mother.

     Watching Candace Against the Universe was a very enjoyable, nostalgic hour-and-a-half, as it perfectly replicates

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the silly, self-referential humor of the original show, interrupted by the occasional musical number. While the plot concerns Candace’s alien abduction and the events following it, which heavily differs from the show’s typical plot, it nonetheless still feels like a very proper entry into the Phineas and Ferb cinematic universe. Part of why I always loved the show was because it never took itself too seriously and acknowledged but nonetheless enjoyed the improbability of its scenarios. However, Candace Against the Universe takes this meta-humor to a whole new level. The film loudly makes fun of itself and breaks the fourth wall — a term referring to instances where the characters appear to address the audience — so many times that I have no idea how the figurative ceiling didn’t collapse on the movie.

     For example, there is one scene where Phineas, Ferb and several of their friends have stowed away on a spaceship in order to save their sister. When they hear that the ship is going to surpass lightspeed, their friend Baljeet exclaims that reality itself is going to break down as a result. The movie suddenly regresses to a slideshow of the scene’s storyboards, before becoming nothing more than a conversation between the film’s writers as to how the scene will play out. We quickly find ourselves back in the movie, where the characters are staring at the audience in utter confusion. After several seconds of silence, the notoriously silent Ferb says “We should never speak of this again,” which the others agree with.

     I genuinely found myself laughing during much of this movie, often to an extent that I typically don’t reach while watching comedies. It truly goes to say that you never fully outgrow your childhood. Upon reflection, I give Candace Against the Universe very high marks, as it gave me some much-needed laughter during a very trying time. If you’re looking for a bit of childhood nostalgia, check it out sometime. I can promise you it’s worth watching.

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