I was baffled by the reviews for the Captain Underpants when they first started rolling out. This looked like another overdue, unnecessary adaptation for kids like The Angry Birds Movie. It gave me hope, though, because despite looking absurd and terrible, it could have been another Lego Movie.
It’s not. Actually, it’s pretty stupid at times. Captain Underpants is better than I had initially thought it would be, though. There’s a sufficient amount of potty humor that is sometimes unbearable and sometimes made me chuckle. The movie will no doubt leave very young children rolling in their seats with laughter, but there are a few jokes sprinkled in that made the parents in my theater giggle as well.
I haven’t heard much about the Captain Underpants books since I was in elementary school, so I’m not sure if they’re still as popular as they once were, but I remember a time when everybody talked about it. I never read the graphic novels myself, but I at least knew of their immature nature and tendency to make jokes about body parts and bodily functions. This movie doesn’t lack any of that, and it’s actually pretty hilarious at first, but by the end it’s pounding you over the head with its poop jokes and it gets old.
From the start, two best friends named George and Harold tell us their story through an entertaining narration complete with different styles of animation and amusing commentary. After getting in trouble one too many times, they hypnotize their strict and scary principal, Principal Krupp, into acting like Captain Underpants, the ridiculous superhero they created in their series of comic books. The plotting Professor Poopypants shows up at school one day with a scheme to eliminate laughter from the world, and the boys must enlist in the help of their new pet hero to take him out.
One of the messages of the film is about the importance of laughter and not taking things too seriously, and I do think that’s a unique and good message for children, but it can get really annoying after a while. The humor is aggressive and relentless, and while little kids will most likely get a kick out of it, I lost interest after the first half hour.
Captain Underpants is a perfectly watchable film with a fairly simple and conventional plot, and I think it suffices for children’s entertainment. It’s not the most intelligent film that kids could be consuming, but it will keep them distracted for an hour and a half. Personally, I doubt I’ll ever watch the movie again, but I’m confident that many of the families sitting in the theater with me will be purchasing the DVD as soon as it comes out.
— Camden McDonald