Posted in Reviews

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie

Silly is seriously underrated. Many recent movies designed for kids are based on such a crackpot idea – I’m thinking Storks and The Boss Baby in particular – that they work hard to create some semblance of realism to keep the more outlandish elements grounded in some kind of recognisable reality. But silly is fun! Tigger is silly. The Minions are silly. The Lego movies are silly. And in these serious times, with children dealing with all kinds of anxieties – both self-created and projected by their parents – silly may be the most important element of any modern kids’ movie. And Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie has silly in epic proportions.

Based on the umpteen silly Captain Underpants novels by Dav Pilkey, with titles like The Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers, Attack of the Talking Toilets and The Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie was written by Nicholas Stoller, who scripted The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted and such grown-up comedies as The Five-Year Engagement, Sex Tape and Zoolander 2. Stoller’s script puts ‘funny’ front and centre – and this, combined with a high-energy animation style and excellent voice work from Kevin Hart, Ed Helms, Nick Kroll, Thomas Middleditch, Jordan Peele and Kristen Schaal, puts the silly back in cinema.

Best friends George (Hart) and Harold (Middleditch) are best friends who dream up and self-publish (i.e. draw and staple together) comics in their treehouse, their finest creation being the amazing Captain Underpants, inspired by the (frankly rather dated) idea that if superheroes dress up to fight crime in long johns with their underpants on the outside (not exactly canon with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but you know what they mean), why not create a superhero who literally fights crime in his underpants. But their endless creativity finds other, less enterprising outlets, with so many ingenious pranks, their long-suffering school principal (Helms) resolves to annihilate their friendship by placing them in separate classes. If only George and Howard had some kind of special powers that could hypnotise Principal Krupp and turn him into their home-made hero, Captain Underpants! Ah, wait –

What follows is 90 minutes of madcap comedy that’s as endlessly inventive as Goerge and Howard themselves, including an evil German-accented genius (Kroll) who gets a job as the boys’ science teacher, an invasion of killer toilets, a ray gun that can shrink and grow things at will, and director David Soren (who previously steered the underrated Turbo) all of it moving at a pace so fast the kids will want to see it a second time just to catch up on the crazy they missed the first time. If your kids connected with the non-stop comedy crazy of The Lego Batman Movie, they’ll love Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. It’s pants down the silliest, funniest, craziest kids’ comedy of the summer.

Tra-la-laaaaa!

Is Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie a good movie for kids?

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is more than just 90 minutes of stupendously silly comedy chaos: at its heart it’s the story of two inseparable friends – one black, one white – who channel their endless energy into creating things for the sheer joy of creation – and even though they do get up to some mischief along the way, they always try to do the right thing, and are always there for each other, through thick and thin. They also take responsibility for the crazy they have created, and do their best to get their silly superhero back under control.

★★★★

Genevieve Harrison

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Top tips on fun flicks for tots teens and tweens. Find us on Facebook and Instagram (@goodmoviesforkids) and Twitter (@goodmovies4kids)

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