Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie certainly lives up to its name as both being a movie and being rather epic. The movie is an extraordinarily true-to-the-books adaptation of the popular Dav Pilkey series, meaning that it is just a little bit funnier and a little bit more insightful than what you are expecting.
For those of you who haven’t raised any boys in the past 10 years, the movie, like the books, follows the trajectories of fourth-grader pals, George and Harold, perennial goofabouts and also author and illustrator of the Captain Underpants comic series. The grade-school setting is boilerplate, replete with droning teachers (e.g., Ms. Ribble, never gets old), know-it-all classmates, tattle tales, interminable assemblies, and, of course, office visits to the boys’ principal rival, the inept and borderline evil Principal Krupp. Spoiler alert (not really), Principal Krupp ultimately takes on the alter ego of the good Captain Underpants himself in real life, as the kids would say, taking on threats ranging from vengeful Turbo Toilets to adversaries that include Bionic Booger Boy and the evil Professor P.P. Poopypants (connoisseurs will note that the movie deviates from the series here, with the expanded name of Professor Pippy Pee-Pee Diarrheastein Poopypants Esquire).
If all of this sounds sophomoric to you, then you get the point exactly. This movie is made for people who can’t withhold a smirk when talking about planet Uranus, which includes boys from the ages of 4 to about, well, you get the idea.
As for the movie itself, I have seen it twice and laughed through it both times. The coloring is really well done and the animation is pretty fluid. There are also elements from the books and otherwise that mix things up, such as a Flip-O-Rama sequence and a hilarious sock puppet interlude that has the vibe of a diorama come to life (I still don’t understand the point of the sock puppets, and am guessing there isn’t one other than it was visually hilarious). The story is not terribly sophisticated and kids will generally relate both to the settings and to the humor. Fortunately, it is not terribly preachy, either, which is probably annoying for the kids and is definitely annoying to me. So, what it really kind of amounts to is about 90 minutes of fart jokes and ridiculousness.
And what’s wrong with that?