Starring Vincent Martella, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dan Povenmire, and Ashley Tisdale
Released by Walt Disney Television Animation, 2007
Author’s note: This review contains some spoilers.
Aren’t I, a grown adult, a little old to love Phineas and Ferb cartoons? No. No, I’m not.
No one is ever too old to be inspired by the adventures of two young passionate valuers who know that their minds are their most important possessions, joyfully live each day to the fullest, and use their boundless creativity to accomplish their goals no matter what stands in their way. In this uplifting show, the title characters make it their policy to do all of the above. Up at seven every morning to cram in as much fun as possible, they start their days with Phineas’s enthusiastic “I know what we’re gonna do today!” and then proceed to do it.
Their extraordinary adventures include building a rocket, inventing a teleporter, and discovering Atlantis. As varied as their escapades are, they invariably put their reasoning minds to work to achieve their goals. They draw up blueprints and complete complex calculations to build their inventions. When they fail, they learn from their mistakes and try again. For example, in “Summer Belongs to You!” (the episode I find most inspiring), the boys and their friends try to make the “biggest, longest, funnest summer day of all time” by following the sun around the globe. Their plane loses its wings in the Himalayas, and they have to find a creative way to fix it with whatever they have at their disposal. Their solution is only temporary, resulting in new difficulties in Paris and, again, on a desert island. But they persevere and manage to return home before the sun sets.
Even in rare moments of discouragement, their motto is always, “We can dream it, do it, build it, make it.” They maintain that using their minds to bend nature to their will in order to achieve their values is “the measure of Man.” Phineas and Ferb complete their inventions quickly, safely, and efficiently by using modern tools and technology. The life-enhancing aspects of technology are illustrated in every episode—especially those that show what life without technology is like. For instance, in “She’s the Mayor,” the children build an old-fashioned pioneer town using only antique tools because they hear someone praising the practice of building something without relying on modern technology. At the end of the day, they are uncharacteristically dirty and unsmiling. Phineas says unenthusiastically, “It took a whole lot of toil, pain, sweat, and hard work to build this town. We should be proud.” But there is no pride in their faces. Ferb replies, “Let’s never do that again.” The children regain their cheerful disposition and go inside the house to enjoy the perks of modern technology, such as air conditioning and indoor plumbing.
Phineas and Ferb show how, by using their minds fully, they can achieve all their personal values, whether finding a fun way to clean the garage, helping a friend find a lost pet, or saving the world from a new ice age. . . .