Starring the voices of Kevin Hart, Thomas Middleditch, Ed Helms, Nick Kroll, Jordan Peele, Kristen Schaal. Directed by David Soren. (2017, 90 min).
If nothing else, this movie knows its audience. Ergo, there's a climactic battle between our titular hero and an evil genius with a gigantic super-toilet.
That audience is, of course, the millions of kids (with parents in-tow) who grew up on Captain Underpants, the still-popular book series that convinced a lot of them that reading for pleasure isn't a federal crime. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie stays remarkably faithful to its source material...irreverent, just-a-tad rebellious and, of course, packed with as many underwear, private part & potty jokes as they could squeeze into the story while maintaining a PG rating.
|"Time for my solo!"|
Yet, the movie is consistently good-natured and frequently quite funny, even if one has since-graduated elementary school, such as a throw-away scene involving a symbolic bluebird and a cat, which made this old man laugh out loud. More importantly, despite being computer-animated, the film maintains the colorful, exaggerated look of the illustrations in the books.
The main characters, George & Harold, are are amusing and likable, despite the pranks they pull on their hapless-but-evil principal, Mr. Krupp, who the boys have also managed to turn into the comic character they created, Captain Underpants (using a hypnotizing ring from a cereal box). These two often break the fourth wall to narrate this story, even "stopping" the film to draw what happens next to avoid traumatizing youngsters.
|George & Harold neglect to inform the captain that his barn door is open.|
On a side note, I was surprised to discover that Kevin Hart voices George. I must confess I've never been a fan, finding him more overwhelming than funny. Even as a voice actor in The Secret Life of Pets, he came across as trying to dominate every scene he's in. But here, Hart actually disappears into the character and gives George a voice and personality befitting a mischievous young boy. The rest of the cast is equally good in their roles, as well.
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is unashamedly a children's film and your little ones will likely outgrow its charms once they hit middle school. But in the moment, fans of the books will love seeing these heroes & villains being brought to life. It's affably entertaining and, despite two main characters who often victimize their elders, never mean-spirited.
EXTRA KIBBLES (mostly of the comical, kid-friendly variety)
"The Captain Underpants Guide to Being a Hero"; "The Professor Poopypants Guide to Being a Villain"; Q&A with Ed Helms, Kevin Hart & Thomas Middleditch
MOTION COMIC: The Really Cool Adventures of Captain Underpants
MUSIC VIDEOS: "Captain Underpants Theme" by "Weird" Al Yankovic & "A Friend Like You" by Andy Grammer
DVD & DIGITAL COPIES
PURR-R-R...LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS