I know what you’re thinking: ugh, ANOTHER superhero movie? Well, not quite: ‘Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie’ makes its way to the big screen with its tongue planted firmly in cheek, yet it retains a high degree of entertainment, especially for young ones who like random jokes, quick-moving scenes, lots of bright colors, some G-rated potty humor, and yes, underpants.
The film focuses primarily on best friends George (Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch, who has always sounded vaguely like Will Ferrell and continues to do so in this film), two elementary-school pals who enjoy the simple things in life: hanging out in their treehouse, drawing comic books, and making prank-ish trouble at their school in scenic Piqua, Ohio. It’s all good for them – except the school principal, Mr. Krupp (Ed Helms, sounding as Once-ler-esque as ever) has had it up to here with the duo’s hijinks! You can’t see me, but imagine I’m holding my hand way above my head to indicate where “up to here” is.
When Krupp makes it his mission to get George and Harold put into separate classrooms, the two manage to pull off a long-shot plan: they hypnotize the principal into thinking he is actually Captain Underpants, the star of their best comic book work. While the move works for them for a bit, they are soon besieged by even worse bad guys in the form of new school science teacher Professor P (Nick Kroll) and the humorless school nerd Melvin Sneedly (Jordan Peele). The action ramps up significantly once Professor P reveals his true intentions at the school, but that’s a plot twist best saved for watching the film, so I won’t spoil it here.
Harold and George spend most of the movie attempting to simply have fun and stay out of too much trouble – although having a new adult friend who thinks he is a superhero complicates things substantially. The movie never takes itself too seriously, which is definitely a good thing; the fourth wall is broken routinely, as Harold and George often talk directly to the audience, including the duo hand-crafting the opening scene as if it were a scene right out of one of their comic-book creations. It’s good fun, and while parents who don’t rate too terribly high on the “goofy scale” may not love it, kids should eat it all right up.
The film was written by Nicholas Stoller – who also wrote last year’s criminally underrated ‘Storks’ animated film – and is based on the book series of the same name by Dav Pilkey, prolific children’s author who also created ‘Dumb Bunnies, ‘Dog-Man,’ and so many more delightfully random tales. Longtime DreamWorks Animation storyboard artist David Soren directs the film, adding this to 2013’s animated snail-race-fest ‘Turbo’ as his biggest directorial work.
‘Captain Underpants’ has a slightly different visual look to it than the average DreamWorks film, and that’s because the company outsources the animation to Canadian-based Mikros Image. This, however, is definitely not a bad thing: the film looks great, with animation flowing smoothly and the colors bright and engaging. If you imagine the ‘Peanuts’ gang given a 21st-Century CGI update (like their recently-released film) and add in a crap-ton of sugar to make ’em all super-manic, then you’ve got the general gist of this film’s feel.
All in all, ‘Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie’ is a great way to spend a few hours with the kiddos. It’s comedy that falls somewhere between slapstick and potty humor, without relying too heavily on or being too gross with either. It will make most audience members happy enough that they’d leave the theater shouting Captain Underpants’ theme phrase: Tra-La-Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
Tony Schaab wonders where Green Rangers come from – I guess if a Yellow Ranger and a Blue Ranger love each other very much… A lover of most things sci-fi and horror, Tony is an author by day and a DJ by night. Come hang out with Tony on Twitter or follow him on Facebook to hear him spew semi-funny nonsense and get your opportunity to finally put him in his place.