Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is the type of film that makes me go look up the property it’s based on. Not because I was enamored with the film, but because I want to know why this film was made. The children’s novel sold more than 70 million books worldwide! Unlike some of the animated features that share the same space, you have to dig through the sophomoric humor to get to the heart of the film but it’s there. With that said, I’m not sure the book should have been put on the big screen.
George (Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch) have been besties ever since they heard their kindergarten teacher say Uranus. Since that moment, they spent as much time together as possible, telling jokes, pulling pranks, and creating comic books about a superhero they’ve created called Captain Underpants along the way. Their jokes and pranks never go unnoticed by teachers (who are usually on the receiving end), students, and especially their principal, Mr. Krupp (Ed Helms). Their latest prank pushes Mr. Krupp over the edge and he decides to separate the two.
With the doom of their friendship on the horizon, George acts quickly and uses his ring to hypnotize Mr. Krupp. And it works! He believes he’s Captain Underpants. His mission, is to put fun back in the school. Too bad Professor Poopypants (Nick Kroll) has other ideas as a dastardly villain in disguise as a teacher.
The film feels exactly like it should if an elementary school boy wrote it and a top notch animation house produced it. (No offense to writer Nicholas Stoller.) The narrative quickly derails, comes back and goes off in other directions much like a conversation with an elementary student, but traded for side bits within the film. It’s smart enough to know what it is and make self deprecating jokes. It has a great underlying theme of how friendship can overcome all.
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie might be a good time for youngsters, diehards who read the novel, and adults who still get a kick out of fart jokes. If that kind of thing doesn’t float your boat, then this movie is not for you. If anything, the film might just take you back to your childhood and what the definition of best friend meant then.