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Western Animation / PJ Sparkles

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P.J. Sparkles is a 1992 animated movie that was released with the Mattel doll of the same name, courtesy of Mike Young Productions. Jodi Benson of The Little Mermaid fame lent her voice to the protagonist, and a few other big stars lent their voices, such as Robby Benson.

Poor P.J. is a sweet orphan girl who lives in Mrs. O'Malley's orphanage. Discouraged that everyone she gets close to is adopted, and that she hasn't been adopted herself, she wishes on a star for someone to love. Thanks to this wish, she is transformed into a magical girl, gives herself the last name "Sparkles" and soon finds herself in Twinkle Town. There, she finds other children who wished for someone to love them, and with The Power of Love, she makes Twinkle Town live up to its name.

P.J. is soon summoned to help Peter, a lonely boy back on Earth, leaving Twinkle Town open to the evil machinations of The Cloak and Betty, who prefer things drab and dreary. Will P.J. be able to undo the damage done to Twinkle Town while still helping Peter?

Tropes related to the special:

  • Aerith and Bob: The Cloak's wife is named Betty, while the inhabitants of Twinkle Town get names like Glimmer, Glowee, and Sparks.
  • Age Lift: In the toyline PJ looks to be anywhere from three to five, while in the cartoon she's at least seven according to a flashback of her birthday wishes. Glowee, Glimmer, and Sparks were similarly aged-up from their toy counterparts.
  • Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad: The Cloak and Betty revel in the dreary Twinkle Town, enjoy spreading filth, and get a headache and indigestion, respectively, when exposed to sunlight. So they're not pleased to find that PJ has suddenly made Twinkle Town match its name.
    The Cloak: Well then, everyone's so nasty and upset. Nerve-wracking, isn't it? It brings out a sickly green color in your cheeks.
    Betty: Why, you old rotting rat head. Oh, you'll turn my head with your sweet talk, not to mention my stomach.
  • Be Yourself: PJ delivers this aesop to Peter at the end.
    You were so desperate to have friends, you tried to be tough and force them to like you, when all you ever had to do was care about them and give them your love.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Everything the Cloak and Betty talk about is spreading evil and misery, and they take joy in bad things.
  • The Chosen One: P.J. is chosen by a wishing star to bring love back to Twinkle Town.
  • Composite Character: Besides the PJ Sparkles doll, PJ in the cartoon also takes cues from the Starbright Sparkles spinoff doll, who had star-themed powers and wore a crown.
  • Cool Horse: Blaze becomes this thanks to the Wishing Star.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: PJ Sparkles has sparkles in her last name, and her powers are accompanied by magic sparkles.
  • Expository Theme Tune: "She closed her eyes and made a wish for people to love and care for, and in a beautiful blinding light, she got everything she asked for!"
  • Fat and Skinny: Betty is the Fat to the Cloak's Skinny.
  • Fun Size: After magically returning to Earth, PJ and Blaze are about the size of dolls and have to use magic to make themselves taller.
  • Gasshole: For a majority of the special Betty can't stop burping, as light gives her indigestion.
  • Gender Flip:
    • Blaze was female in the toyline but male in the cartoon.
    • The 2009 reboot of the dolls made the male Sparks a girl.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: Once she gains her powers, P.J. lives on love and will die without it. When The Cloak's Malice Mist saps all the love from Twinkle Town, P.J. becomes weak, and Blaze turns back into an old horse. Conversely, the love of just one boy is enough to recharge her powers.
  • Hand Wave: PJ's powers and other things are never properly explained, leading her to wonder how she did that and move on.
  • Happily Married: The Cloak and Betty, despite being card-carrying villains who hate anything good, are nonetheless happily married.
  • Helping Would Be Killstealing: P.J refuses to use her magic to get Peter some friends because he has to do it on his own, as he wouldn't know what to do when she left otherwise.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: P.J. starts out as this before becoming a magical girl.
  • Hostile Show Takeover: After getting rid of P.J. (or so they think), The Cloak and Betty sing their own version of the theme tune:
    Here comes Cloak and Betty
    In their vehicle
    Punching all the lights out
    Stinking up the world! Yes!
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Peter acts tough at school in an attempt to make friends.
  • "I Want" Song: "Wishing For Love" is PJ's song about wanting someone who will love her and never leave.
  • I Would Say If I Could Say: Blaze, the horse, comments at one point, "Pardon the expression, but 'Whoa!'"
  • Larynx Dissonance: Betty is voiced by Roger Rees.
  • Mad Scientist: The Cloak is very adamant about being a scientist, not a magician.
    Crack out the chemistry set, Betty. We have a light to extinguish!
  • Magic Versus Science: PJ's good love-powered magic is contrasted with the Cloak's evil, hate-powered science experiments.
  • Magical Girl: PJ becomes a magical girl who can bring love and happiness back to Twinkle Town.
  • Magical Land: The place Twinkle Town is part of was created by "the light of every star ever wished upon by children."
  • Make a Wish: PJ's wish on the wishing star for someone to love turns her into a magical girl and brings her to Twinkle Town, which is made from children's wishes. Its inhabitants similarly wished on the star for someone to love them.
  • Meaningful Rename: PJ renames herself PJ Sparkles after her powers, and is able to give the other children of Twinkle Town names based on their personalities and what they do to help the town.
  • Merchandise-Driven: PJ Sparkles dolls had been around since 1988, with the cartoon being made to promote the Soft PJ Sparkles doll and her friends Glowee, Glimmer, and Sparks.
  • Mirror Morality Machine: The Malice Mist turns anyone that comes into contact with it evil and apathetic, including PJ herself.
  • Mouse World: Twinkle Town is smaller than Earth, and when PJ and Blaze return from it they're the size of dolls.
  • Never Given a Name: The children of Twinkle Town don't have names, but PJ is able to give them names by virtue of being their leader.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Before PJ arrived to save it, Twinkle Town was dark, cold, and full of unhappy children.
  • Number Two for Brains: Betty is much less threatening than the Cloak and doesn't really do anything, mostly acting as comic relief.
  • Only One Name: Before becoming PJ Sparkles, PJ was just PJ.
  • Orphanage of Love: O'Malley's Home for Orphans is where PJ grew up.
  • Paint It Black: Everyone sprayed with the Malice Mist instantly becomes paler, and their clothing becomes darker. The heart on P.J.'s dress even turns completely black.
  • Pink Means Feminine: PJ's clothes are very pink, and Blaze's mane and tail are also pink.
  • Polluted Wasteland: Twinkle Town was like this before PJ got there, and The Cloak and Betty work to change it back to how it was.
  • Power Incontinence: PJ uses her love-based powers by accident a few times, giving her helpers magic badges and transporting herself, Blaze, and Peter to Twinkle Town.
  • The Power of Love: Love is the strongest magic of all. P.J. can do almost anything, provided she phrases it "I'd love it if X happened."
  • Power Perversion Potential: A G-rated version. Seeing P.J.'s power in action, Peter is convinced she can just zap all the kids at school to make them his friends.
  • Produce Pelting: When the Cloak turns people hateful with his Malice Mist, they pelt PJ and Blaze with tomatoes.
  • Sapient Steed: Blaze becomes this after his transformation.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: After demonstrating his Malice Mist, the Cloak aims it at the camera and covers the screen in evil smoke.
  • Shout-Out: There are a couple throughout the special.
    "She's the one who started all this lovey-dovey 'you light up my life' stuff."
    "We don't need your stinky badges."
  • Swiss-Army Tears: P.J. starts to die after she is hit with Malice Mist by the villains, since she now needs love to survive. Peter's tears, while declaring that he loves her, revive her.
  • The Symbiote: PJ is a mutual version of the trope, as she gives other kids the love they need but needs them to love her in return to survive.
  • Taking the Bullet: PJ absorbs the full brunt of the Malice Mist by leaping in front of Peter, leaving him unaffected.
  • Talking Animal: Blaze can talk after his transformation, briefly reverting back to a nonsapient horse when the love fades from Twinkle Town.
  • Toyless Toyline Character: The Cloak, Betty, and Mrs. O'Malley did not get toys, and neither did the background Twinkle Town inhabitants.
  • Uncleanliness Is Next to Ungodliness: The Cloak and Betty revel in spreading filth everywhere, complete with a literal bag of trash. Betty in particular has a way with stench, and the Cloak waxes poetic about how Twinkle Town smells like "a rotten egg sandwich made with moldy limburger cheese and rolled in used kitty litter" before he finds PJ's helped the town.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: In the runtime of a 24-minute cartoon, Betty goes through about 4 different outfits.
  • Unusual Euphemism: After seeing that his evil plot has failed, The Cloak cries out "Oh, spit!"
  • Waking Non Sequitur: Upon waking up in Twinkle Town, PJ feels Blaze nuzzling her and says "Ugh, get that frog out of my face!"
  • Weakened by the Light: Betty and The Cloak get bad indigestion and headaches (respectively) when exposed to the sun.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Mrs. O'Malley is never seen after the intro.
  • Wish Upon a Shooting Star: P.J. wishes on the first shooting star of the night for someone to love, which gives her magical powers, and the inhabitants of Twinkle Town wished for someone to love them at the same time.
  • World-Healing Wave: Once Peter's love heals P.J., her love spreads across Twinkle Town, healing the land and its inhabitants.