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‘Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie’ (review)

Produced by Mireille Soria, Mark Swift
Screenplay by Nicholas Stoller
Based on Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
Directed by David Soren
Starring Kevin Hart, Ed Helms,
Thomas Middleditch, Nick Kroll,
Jordan Peele, Kristen Schaal


Ever wish you could imagine something really cool and make it a reality?

Ever wish you could do it twice?

Dav Pilkey, creator of the best-selling, world renowned series of kids books entitled, Captain Underpants, did.

With the series, Captain Underpants, Pilkey, has written and drawn a 12 book series, starting in 1997, that has not only sold over 80 million copies worldwide but also been translated into 20 different languages. Pretty awesome feat, right?

Well, with the release of the film Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, lighting may strike twice and the author may have a bonafide hit movie on his hand as well.

For those of you who may not know the epic tale of Captain Underpants, the animated film is the tale of two creative and often mischievous fourth graders, George and Harold, who’s love of pranks and comic books help them get through a pretty awful and mundane life at school.

When, through the power of hypnosis, the heroic but not to bright comic book character they have created comes to life in the form of their terrible and oppressive school principle, Mr. Krupp. The boys must balance the fantastical with the reality of everyday life, all the while helping save the world from destruction when real life evil-doer, the new science teacher, Mr. Poopypants plans to destroy all laughter in the world.

Not knowing anything about the book series or the film going into this screening, I was happily surprised at how much I loved it. I loved the design, which I am told stays true to the original character designs and loose playfulness of Pilkey. I was also overjoyed at how much the two main characters broke the fourth wall. The characters stop the movie to tell us a movie within a movie, we are first introduced to this world by George’s narration as he tells us the origin of Captain Underpants. A story that is liberally lifted from the pages of a certain orphaned space man from the planet, Krypton.

The bouncing from the “real world” to the boys’ imagination is a refreshing movie trope not utilized in animated movies that often and one that, if it were handled poorly would have gotten old really fast. Through changing the animation styles and the story telling styles within each “movie within the movie” as it were, writer Nicholas Stoller (The Muppets and Muppets: Most Wanted) and longtime Dreamworks animation alum, director, David Soren (Turbo, Shark Tale) keep the action and the humor fresh and the story invigorating.

The outstanding voice-acting cast is a who’s who of comedy and wit. Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch  provide the voices of our two pals for life, George and Harold. The grumpy principle, Mr Krupp, as well as the hapless and heroic Captain himself is Ed Helms. Nick Kroll provides the maniacal voice of the evil Professor Pooypants. His henchmen-nerd and laughter-devoid sidekick is voiced by Jordan Peele and rounding out the main cast is the ever brilliant Kristen Schall as, Edith, The Lunch Lady.

Tons of humor, great visual jokes, smart storytelling and, poop jokes culminate around excellent animation to create a world that can be enjoyed by kid and adult. If the audience I saw the film with is any marker of what to expect, then I think that lighting may very well indeed strike once again for Dev Pilkey. Parents and children alike will enjoy this animated interpretation of a very fun story.

So take the kids but don’t be surprised if you don’t have a great time yourself.

In the immortal words of Captain Underpants, “TRAAA LAA LAAAAAA!!!”


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