Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
Two overly imaginative pranksters named George and Harold hypnotize their principal into thinking he's a ridiculously enthusiastic, incredibly dimwitted superhero named Captain Underpants.
Superhero movies have been all the rage this decade, with the likes of Marvel and DC muscling it out for Box Office supremacy. But there’s one comic book character whose power to entertain had been completely undermined: enter Captain Underpants.
Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch lend their voices for the roles of George and Harold, respectively, two elementary school best friends with no bounds to their imagination. When they’re not playing the ultimate pranks on their teachers and fellow pupils and being the bane of Principal Krupp’s life, they are writing comic books, with their most famous creation being Captain Underpants – a hapless hero who has no real powers other than thinking he does. Using a hypnotizing ring, they accidentally transform the usually uptight Principal Krupp into the much more enthusiastic and confident (although undeniably clumsy) Captain Underpants. When Professor Poopypants arrives at the school with the intention of ridding the world of laughter, it’s up to Harold, George and Underpants to save the day.
Watching Captain Underpants took me right back to my own childhood, watching Saturday morning cartoons, hyped up on overly sugared sweets and cereal without any cares in the world. The film itself is remeniscent of these shows too – bursting with colour, utterly ridiculous storylines and littered with jokes for both adults and kids. What I loved about Underpants though is it never stoops to patronising the audience, even with its toilet-humour heavy gags. In fact, Captain Underpants is much smarter than it would first appear, frequently breaking the fourth wall so George and Harold speak directly with us, having false endings (credits included) and even switching up animation styles – a sock puppet sequence being a definite highlight.
Hart and Middleditch are perfectly cast as the troublesome duo, while sounding like they had a blast while recording the voices. When they laugh it seems sincere, like the actors themselves found the jokes funny. And why wouldn’t they? The rapid fire rate of punchlines are more hit than miss, and even the bad ones raise a smile. Ed Helms as Principal Krupp/Captain Underpants effortlessly switches from two very different personalities at a fingers click, while Nick Kroll as Professor Poopypants keeps the laughs rolling – even in his attempts to stop it from happening.
Admittedly the unrelenting energy does get a little exhausting at the hour mark, but it’s rare to gripe about a film having too much steam as opposed to running out of it. Even by the closing seconds, the film appears to be far from over, and I can imagine director David Soren having to psychically remove the pen from screenwriter Nicholas Stoller’s hand while he frantically begs for one more minute.
Nevertheless, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie encapsulates everything a family film should contain, and is easily DreamWorks Animation’s best standalone offering in years.
Bursting with energy and imagination
Perfect voice casting, with Hart and Middleditch clearly having fun
Toilet humour done with intelligence
The frenetic pace gets a little exhausting towards the end