Review: Captain Underpants

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The two pint-sized troublemakers George (Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch) are the bane of the existence of their unusually grumpy elementary school principal, Mr. Krupp (Ed Helms). When another of the two imaginative pranksters’ many shenanigans get more out of hand than usual, Mr. Krupp is almost diabolically delighted that he finally has enough evidence to split up the pair and place them in separate classes. However, all is not yet lost as George and Harold manage to hypnotize the principal and turn him into Captain Underpants – a super-powered, yet incredibly dimwitted comic book superhero the boys have created. At first, George and Harold are having the time of their lives, but things soon take a turn for the worse when an actual threat presents itself in the form of the villainous Professor P (Nick Kroll), who has sinister plans for the elementary schoolers and their peers. It is now up to George and Harold to find a way to stop Professor P, but are they capable of doing so, and will Captain Underpants be a help or a hindrance to their chances of success?

In terms of animation, 2017 has already had a fair few things to offer, and Captain Underpants turns out to be a mostly pleasant surprise in spite of its insistence of landing the laughs primarily via the means of nonstop toilet humor. While this is hardly a new approach for this type of entertainment, the frequency at which the jokes are delivered, their timing and how many of them actually land is rare, particularly for this type of comedy. As such, both children and adults alike should find themselves entertained by what fittingly has the importance of joy and laughter at its core. This is explored through both the imaginative minds of the two protagonists and the numerous laughing fits they end up having as a result of their creativity and friendship, which is in turn contrasted by the underlying reasons of exactly what may be the cause of Mr. Krupp’s unusually unpleasant demeanor.

Aside from the importance of joy and laughter, another core theme of the film is the importance of friendship. Since the definition of what constitutes friendship is dictated by the two boys’ perception of it, their fears of what may happen if they are placed in different classes is hilariously exaggerated in segments that mix in other types of visual elements to contrast the charmingly cartoonish computer animation. This creates fun and rather unique visuals, which further emphasizes the creativity of the two protagonists.

The main issue with Captain Underpants is that it does follow a rather formulaic approach that focuses on themes that have been handled many times before by child cinema. The film is therefore mostly concerned with keeping kids entertained while throwing any adults in attendance the occasional reference to concerns associated with grownup life. As such, Captain Underpants is a safe bet for most little ones, just as the chaperoning adults should be able to sit through this one without running the risk of becoming needlessly bored, as you can most definitely fare worse in terms of animated features in the current cinematic climate.

Verdict: 7 out of 10.

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