Candace still unable to bust her brothers in new Phineas and Ferb movie

“Dude, we’re getting the band back together!”

“Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe” had a unique dilemma going into production. It had to pander to both the teenagers for whom the original show was a huge part of their childhood, as well as the new generation of kids who are just interacting with the iconic characters for the first time.

And oh boy did it succeed.

The gang’s all back for the first “Phineas and Ferb” installment since the series ended in 2015 after four seasons, with all of the original voice actors and characters.

For me, a high school senior who typically isn’t sitting down to watch an animated kids movie on a Friday afternoon, the opening scene of Candace (Ashley Tisdale) riding her bike was enough to bring back memories. The classic animation style of creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh along with Candace’s familiar ringing voice transported me back to 2007 when I was watching “Phineas and Ferb” for the first time.

But there were some small changes. The slight differences in the angles used, the amount of the characters’ hometown of Danville shown, and more modern sounding music are likely attributed to a higher production value and desire for new viewers.

A more noticeable difference was the hyper-focus on Candace. While the self proclaimed antagonist has had episodes dedicated to her before, they were mostly one dimensional and centered on her struggle to bust her brothers and/or love for Jeremy (Mitchel Musso). The movie, on the other hand, showed layers to Candace that were never examined before. Even a literal trip through Candace’s mind in one episode did not take viewers as deep into the character that we saw in “Candace Against the Universe”.

This new Candace struggles with her self worth and is envious of the attention that her brothers get, both of which are more genuine issues that others can relate to. Povenmire and Marsh played to their teenage audience perfectly in that way, especially now when morale is at an all time low for most of that audience due to quarantine and coronavirus.

While teenagers used to connect with Phineas (Vincent Martella) and Ferb (David Errigo Jr.), now they are closer in age to Candace, and she is, surprisingly, more relatable. This also leaves room for younger viewers to connect with her brothers, instead of forcing those characters to grow with the audience.

The plot and dialogue of the movie is also spot on. In this adventure, Candace and Vanessa (Olivia Olson) get kidnapped by aliens, so Phineas, Ferb, Isabella (Alyson Stoner), Baljeet (Maulik Pancholy), Buford (Bobby Gaylor), Perry the Platypus (Dee Bradley Baker), and even Dr. Doofenshmirtz (Dan Povenmire) go to save them. The ageless humor, breaking of the fourth wall, and classic characters make sure that “Candace Against the Universe” sticks with the “Phineas and Ferb” brand, and the five year gap since the last episode dissolves.

Maybe the most lasting parts of the “Phineas and Ferb” show are its unique and catchy songs. While I don’t think “Candace Against the Universe” gives us a song as good as “A-G-L-E-T” or “Squirrels in my Pants (S.I.M.P.)”, the self-aware lyrics and slightly modern spin make the new soundtrack perfectly acceptable and fun to listen to.

I was so engrossed in the movie that I didn’t even mind the cheesy “We love each other” song that played during the final minutes.

“Candace Against the Universe” achieved that of which is virtually impossible: being a movie that was so good that I sat next to my 12 year old brother for more than 30 minutes without fighting, and genuinely enjoyed myself while doing it.