Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
Updated: Feb 4
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, based on the popular children’s book series by Dav Pilkey, gives audiences exactly what they should expect from a movie named Captain Underpants: it is seventy-nine minutes (minus the end credits, which feature a short scene that pays off one of the film’s recurring gags) of childish bathroom humor. However, it is also smart, fast-paced, brightly animated and surprisingly fun.
Best friends George (Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch from HBO’s Silicon Valley) are clever elementary schoolers constantly battling with their mean principal, Mr. Krupp (The Hangover’s Ed Helms). At the beginning of the film, he finally catches them at one of their pranks and plans to put them in separate classes in an effort to destroy their friendship. In desperation, George uses his plastic ring to hypnotize their principal into thinking he is Captain Underpants, a character George and Harold invented in a series of comic books. Much of the film deals with their attempts to prevent Captain Underpants from causing havoc while also foiling the evil plot of villainous science teacher Professor Poopypants (Nick Kroll). Lots of underwear and toilet jokes follow.
This synopsis could describe a vulgar and disgusting film, but Captain Underpants (Directed by David Soren) is lively and enjoyable. The voice actors are well-cast and funny and the movie does not overstay its welcome. The characters are given just enough depth and the plot is more coherent than I would have expected. It doesn’t have the emotion or cross-generational appeal of the best animation, but it isn’t trying to. The goal of this film is to make kids laugh and it seems to have achieved this. It reminded me of some of the goofy Saturday morning cartoons of my youth, and I mean that in the best way.
I saw Captain Underpants with my six and seven year old nephews and they were laughing hysterically throughout the entire film. I was entertained by the film, while they loved it so much that the younger one immediately asked to see it again. The film is certainly faithful to the spirit of the book series (I have only read the first book; according to my older nephew who has read all of them, it combines elements from several different books in the series), so fans of the books needn’t worry about Hollywood taking an established property and ruining it.
I was entertained by the film and smiled a lot, but I didn’t laugh very much. I thought the film was fun, but it is probably not one of those animated films that adults will go see without their kids. For adults, there are better films currently in theaters. But it is a pretty good option for families with kids who enjoy goofy humor. As long as you aren’t offended by the word Uranus.
3¼ out of 5
Voice Cast: Kevin Hart as George Thomas Middleditch as Harold Ed Helms as Mr. Krupp/Captain Underpants Nick Kroll as Professor Poopypants Jordan Peele as Melvin Kristen Schaal as Edith
Directed by David Soren Screenplay by Nicholas Stoller