Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie

captain_underpantsSTARS3George and Harold are two mischievous 4th graders that enjoy playing practical jokes because they cheer the students up at their miserable school.  They also write comic books in their spare time. Their latest superhero creation is Captain Underpants, a literary work that is ripped up by their ill-tempered principal, Mr. Krupp (Ed Helms).  Despite the fact he doesn’t have proof, Mr. Krupp knows they are behind the practical jokes on the teachers at their elementary school. At the Invention Convention, the boys tamper with a fellow classmates’ entry called the Turbo Toilet so that it shoots toilet paper rolls at the audience. However this time, Mr. Krupp has video evidence of their shenanigans. He threatens to end the kids’ alliance by splitting them up into different classes. Before this can happen, the kids put him in a trance using a Hypno-Ring they got out of a cereal box. They make him act like a chicken, then a monkey, until finally…Captain Underpants. Hilarity ensues.

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is based on an extremely successful 10-part series of children’s fiction by author and illustrator Dav Pilkey.  The saga revolves around George and Harold, two imaginative but disobedient fourth graders.  The youngsters defy authority and are prone to pranks. The massive popularity of the books, particularly with children ages 6–8 has garnered much attention since they were first published in 1997.

The boys’ playful disrespect for authority has garnered some controversy. The series surprisingly topped the list of the most banned books in America in 2012, beating out the much more controversial Fifty Shades of Grey. These novels were never part of my upbringing.  I was a wee bit older than 8 in 1997. I haven’t read any of them, but I can affirm there’s nothing in this kid-friendly movie that would offend even the most delicate sensibilities. Yes the main protagonist does wear tighty whities but let’s face it, if the sight of a cartoon wearing underpants is offensive to you, then you probably shouldn’t be watching films made after 1968 anyway.

The humor is rather innocent, but it certainly doesn’t reach sophisticated highs either. The potty jokes are mild but they’re constant. I suppose gags about poop and other bodily functions carry a certain charm – for budding minds anyway.  If you still think a planet with the name Uranus is hilarious, then calling it a “gas giant” should have you rolling with laughter.  That experience is what originally unites these two friends.  The taunts don’t get any more vulgar that “weirdo,” “stupid,” and “suck up”. Although some parents may bristle at one of the film’s subtle underlying messages.  The kids’ decision to tinker with a classmate’s science project is partially based on the fact that he enjoys learning and is excited about going to the science fair.  Since Melvin is socially awkward, he is apparently deserving of their ridicule.

The movie is colorful and should appeal to the young and young at heart. Where the production excels is in the bright and lively animation. When Professor P ( Nick Kroll) attacks the school, it’s presented as slapstick.  The action for the climatic big battle switches from the 3D computer graphics to the style of a flip-book. It’s such an amusing way to lighten the mood while lending interest to the scene. The voice actors are all well cast.  The two main 4th grade protagonists are especially good.  George is portrayed by well-known comedian Kevin Hart.  His best friend Harold is voiced by lesser known actor, Thomas Middleditch (TV series Silicon Valley).  The uplifting takeaway amongst all the poo poo and pee pee jokes is the unshakable bond of true friendship. George and Harold’s loyalty to one another is something to admire and emulate. Nonetheless, potty humor is still low comedy. Not objectionable in this case, just naive, simplistic and childish.  The film is a trifle. The main antagonist introduces himself as Professor P but the boys later discover the P stands for Poopypants. If that reveal causes you to burst out giggling, then I highly recommend this.  5 years olds will totally dig it. Some adults will too.  You know who you are.


9 Responses to “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie”

  1. smilingldsgirl Says:

    I am such an adult who digs it! I thought it was really inventive in the animation and it kept me laughing throughout. I thought it was super charming especially to see their friendship and how creative they are in their play. Melvin isnt disliked because he’s socially awkward. He’s disliked because he’s a show off and tattle tale. There is a lot of toliet humor which I normally hate but for whatever reason I thought they pulled it off here. Tra la la!


    • Melvin is the only one excited about the science fair and that it something to ridicule. He’s a nerd basically. “Tattle tale” “Showoff”. These are words bullies use to justify picking on outsiders. Let’s not get caught up on one line though. I liked the film. It’s cute but definitely didn’t spark my intellect.


      • smilingldsgirl Says:

        But he rats on them several times to the principal and seems to be antagonistic to all the students. And he has 17 inventions which seems a little show offy to me. The school is so restrictive that it is hard for kids to be excited about much. No art. No fun. So that’s what the boys are trying to do is make their fellow students smile. Anyway not a big deal but just how I saw it. Glad you had fun with the film. It is cute. The sock puppet scene I thought was very unexpected and fun.


      • Yes, the use of mixed media was imaginative. Enjoyed that.

        P.S. Now that you mention it, how dare Melvin invent 17 things! You’re right that’s just inexcusable.



      • smilingldsgirl Says:

        Ha. I had no issues with Melvin. Anyway one cool thing about this movie is it only cost 38 million to make which for animation fans is exciting. DreamWorks used a small animation firm called Micros and it was 90 million cheaper than The Boss Baby 😝. It’s kind of cool to see this happening as smaller budgets could allow more risk taking and creativity. Just a side note to the actual film content but kind of cool


  2. Cute movie, however, I fell asleep through a lot of it. Expected more adult fun. Young kids will probably love it.


  3. I didn’t realize that the Captain Underpants series was so controversial haha. It wasn’t a part of my childhood either, so I didn’t know much about it prior to reading your review. I could see how the level of humor in the movie would just appeal to a specific audience and I could see how the underlying message about it being okay to bully/ridicule the nerdy kid being problematic. I don’t feel like I missed much by skipping this one.


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