There are many ways children’s imaginations can be ignited; intellectual inspiration, random coincidences, the people surrounding them, reminders from shows they enjoyed watching, and so on. Yet, ironically, boredom can be the core reason for children to create their own creative worlds, like when your mind wanders when you are bored in a history class at school (Admit it, we’ve all been there). You feel so disinterested that you’d want to conjure up a world filled with imaginative characters and stories that would be so much more interesting and fascinating than what’s happening in your own boring normal world. When children do this, the stories they’d create would more likely be crude, ridiculous and stupid, but even the silliest of stories can have imagination and joy in them, and that is certainly the case with Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, based on the popular book series by Dav Pilkey.
With a name like Captain Underpants, the first thoughts that’d come to mind would be that of ridicule and rejection due to the inclusion of juvenile names and potty humour, however, this movie is incredibly self-aware of its own brand of humour and completely embraces it to its full advantage and that’s what makes this film so ridiculously enjoyable. The tone may be child-like, but it’s not annoying or cynical, but instead heartwarming, full of life and energy and full of gags that’ll leave both adults and children laughing with glee. It’s clear that the filmmakers (director David Soren and screenwriter Nicolas Stoller) involved here have put in real effort, care and attention to every scene in the film, which is more than could be said of some recent animated movies of late (Norm of the North anyone…?)
The animation on display is fun, vibrant and crazy, yet is cohesive and fluid, which goes to show that real skilled professionals have worked hard to make every scene pop in a certain style. Speaking of which, there are actually different animation styles shown throughout a few times, including childlike 2D comic-comic animation, cardboard cutouts and even an amazing scene of sock-puppeting that was one of the most memorable laugh-out-moments. Another aspect that works really well were the voice actors, and that is really surprising considering this is another case of celebrities involved in animation. Both Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch are excellent as the mischievous duo of George and Harold with Hart especially being surprisingly restrained and all the better for it. Ed Helms perfectly nails both roles as the dimwitted titular hero and the grouchy Principal Krupp, while Nick Kroll totally hams it up as the ridiculously named Professor Poopypants. Plus, that theme song by "Weird Al" Yankovic is catchy as hell.
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie may be silly, stupid and ridiculous, but it’s incredibly creative with its humour, animation, characters and story that its silliness makes it all part of its charm. This has real heart and soul, which is something that has been sorely absent in the big mainstream animated movies released this year like Despicable Me 3, Cars 3 and especially The Boss Baby. This is the kind of film that will appeal to all audiences, and even the most cynical of adults will probably find enjoyment in, what is, the real unexpected gem of 2017 so far. Everyone should put their pants on give this a watch. Tra-la-la!
CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE / CERT: U / DIRECTOR: DAVID SOREN / SCREENPLAY: NICHOLAS STOLLER / STARRING: KEVIN HART, ED HELMS, THOMAS MIDDLEDITCH, NICK KROLL, JORDAN PEELE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Expected rating: 7/10