It would appear that Wonder Woman was the superhero film of the year audiences desperately craved. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is one that nobody knew they needed. Nevertheless, they really did.
George (Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch) are the best of friends. They pull pranks on their school, share the same immaturities, and most importantly: they both write and and design comic books together chronicling the escapades of the heroic Captain Underpants (Ed Helms). After one prank too many, their arch nemesis, the easily agitated principal Mr. Krupp (also voiced spectacularly by Helms) decides to split the riotous pair into separate classes. Fearing this gross injustice, George and Harold attempt to cease the actions of their villainous principal, in the process hypnotising him into becoming the undergarment-sporting crusader himself, Captain Underpants. It seems that in doing so they are just in time, because there is a new villain on the horizon – the mad genius Professor Poopypants (Nick Kroll).
For anyone aware of Dav Pilkey’s charming children’s book series of the same name, it is easy to know what to expect. However, it may not be as easy to estimate the varying heights of humour that are reached throughout DreamWorks’ (Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon) latest cinematic creation. The film offers a wide range of wonderfully creative visual gags that younger audiences will adore, but also plenty of bewilderingly intelligent wisecracks that will surely resonate with adults. There are some genuinely funny jokes about education and marriage that are dashed into the mix of toilet humour that will not go amiss – as it may be, the films sheer frequency of laughs is where its success emerges. Director David Soren’s keen replication of the melodramatic child’s-eye view of the education system will have children and adults laughing alongside each other in unison.
Thanks to some truly sensational voice-acting from the entire cast, Captain Underpants offers colourful and well-rounded characters who are all excellently realised. Nick Kroll’s voice-work as the side-splitting screwball Professor Poopypants is absolutely terrific, and is easily the highlight of the film. For a character that resents laughter, he certainly knows how to provide it for audiences. His role drives the narrative into even more absurd and ridiculous plot-points, of which are always welcome when such vibrant characters are along for the ride. Fans of the books are also offered plenty of enriching references, such as the creative Flip-O-Rama which is humorously used to speed up events.
Children’s films are rarely this entertaining and well-written; audiences will certainly be anticipating a sequel. Kids will love it, and parents perhaps even more so. Be sure to check it out and exercise your Huffer Guffaw Chucklyamalous – it is a lot of fun.