Reviews: It’s a bird, it’s a plane, its … Captain Underpants!
Captain Underpant: The First Epic Movie,
Directed by David Soren,
Starring Kevin Hart, Thomas Middleditch, Ed Helms, Kristen Schaal
From the pages of the popular kid’s books by Dav Pilkey comes the first, of what I hope will be many, especially epic movies. George and Harold have wild and creative imaginations but creativity goes against the wishes of their school Principal, Mr Krupp. He is confiscating everything that they create and bring to school, and waiting for that one prank that he can prove they were responsible for so that he can split them up into different classes and end their friendship. While trying to save their friendship the boys find one of their old hypno rings and it has a strange effect on their Principal.
Being honest with you, because I know you appreciate that, I wasn’t holding up much hope for this film. We movie reviewers get to sit through a lot, and I mean a lot, of animated movies through the year. Some are fantastic, others just ordinary, and some just cheesy nonsense that not even the children enjoy. When it comes to children’s animation the best ones don’t talk down to them, they know that children these days are more sophisticated than at any time in our history. Case in point: my six year old nephew managed to fix my tablet when the lads and lasses at the store where I bought it couldn’t find the problem.
Captain Underpants is a fantastic animated movie that balances the humour between the parents and the children. We got to see this film with an audience filled with families, distressed summer parents thanking Fox for allowing them an hour and a half’s entertainment on a wet afternoon, and many children that were having a blast before the movie. When the film started though, and this is the biggest test of any children’s movie, they sat and laughed and behaved themselves. There was a lot of sugar going into these children beforehand and Captain Underpants kept their attention from start to finish. Also I have to point out that usually at these types of screenings even if the kids are transfixed on the screen, the parents are usually being annoying by being on their phones. Even the parents were focused on the film.
The mixture of animation between 2D, 3D, and Sock puppets, is just done perfectly. The character design seems to steal heavily though from the Peanuts movie last year, but that is easily forgiven when the script and soundtrack keep you watching the film and entertained. When the kids change the Principal into Captain Underpants, their comic book creation, the laughs come hard and fast. Then the villain arrives in the school as a new science teacher, Professor Poopypants; he has a sinister plan that will stop children laughing ever again. A lot of the humour is silly and childish, but that’s why it works. It makes you forget for a while that you have doctor’s appointments and bills to pay, who needs a phone anyway, and remember the dumb innocence of being child. The creativity in the story is very refreshing.
The voice talent that includes Nick Kroll, Ed Helms, and Kevin Hart all make the world seem more immersive, which is half the battle, and the other half is having a great script which just captures the imagination of the viewer. There were one or two moments, just brief moments, that could have been tightened up on the script front, but they are glancing seconds that just fade quickly from the normal viewer’s mind. In a summer of high action blockbusters, and terrible weather, I’d happily spend even sunny afternoons in the cinema watching this and hanging by the seat of my pants as Harold, George, and Captain Underpants embark on their first epic cinematic adventure.