Dan's Review: "Captain Underpants" is good, immature mischief
Captain Underpants - © 2017 Dreamworks Animation.
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (Dreamworks Animation)
Rated PG for mild rude humor throughout.
Starring (voices of) Kevin Hart, Thomas Middleditch, Ed Helms, Nick Kroll, Jordan Peele, Kristen Schaal.
Written by Nicholas Stoller based on the children’s book series by Dav Pilkey.
Directed by David Soren.
Two years ago, when the film Straight Outta Compton was released, there was an online meme generator available in which you could place the movie title graphic over any photo and replace “Compton” with any place you’d like (“Straight Outta Provo” was popular locally). Channeling my inner 10-year old boy, I decided to make my own silly version, including a photo of the planet Uranus (I’ll let you visualize the rest). It’s that kind of goofy (somewhat crude) humor that drives most preteen boys, and often sticks around through adulthood, later transitioning into “dad Jokes” (as my unfortunate children can attest). It’s also the strain of humor behind Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, based on the popular children’s books by Dav Pilkey.
It’s the story of two close friends, bonded forever by the love of “inappropriate” potty humor (i.e. “Uranus” jokes), named George (voiced by Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch). These pals spend most of their leisure time playing practical jokes and creating their “epic” comic books about the mythical Captain Underpants, a superhero who wears “tighty-whities” briefs and a cape while saving humanity from all sorts of evildoers. Their practical jokes wear thin on their school Principal Krupp (Ed Helms), who eventually reaches his breaking point and threatens to move the boys into separate classes, thus destroying their friendship. In desperation, the boys use a plastic “hypno-ring” to hypnotize Krupp into believing that he is the real Captain Underpants, setting him off on all kinds of missions to save the world. The boys learn that they can wake Krupp from a Captain Underpants stupor by dousing him with water, and back into character by snapping their fingers. Their plan to control Krupp is threatened when the school’s new science teacher, Professor Poopypants (Nick Kroll) devises a scheme to erase humor from all the children who laugh at his name by utilizing a giant toilet to shoot a magic ray at them. The boys must do all they can to defeat Poopypants, including summoning Captain Underpants to the rescue.
Okay, okay. Yes, it’s all very immature, and the sum of all Dav Pilkey’s source material involves funny-sounding body functions, aimed at little boys who giggle and snicker at the slightest flatulence, but there is a place for that kind of innocent silliness. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie truly captures this innocence in a very funny and sincere movie about friendship, creativity and useful nonsense that we all need from time to time.
I remember reading the Captain Underpants books with my young children, who not only got a chance to giggle with Dad over a little harmless toilet humor, but also learned that reading can be fun. Some of my kids have taken to creating their own silly cartoons with such inspiration, and there’s nothing wrong with that, either.
So, go ahead and embrace your inner kid, and take your kids to see Captain Underpants to have a few more giggles with them while you still can. We have enough serious problems in the world that a little childish goofiness won’t hurt.
Bonus: if you are a fan of Pilkey’s Captain Underpants books, you will rejoice at seeing a “Flip-o-Rama” segment in the movie.
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Trailer