As a kid, I wasn’t interested in Captain Underpants, so as an adult, I wasn’t excited to hear about the movie, but I somewhat changed my mind when I saw the trailer. It had a great art style and I laughed at some of the jokes. Now let’s see if Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie lives up to its trailer.
Overview: Two mischievous fourth-grade boys draw comics about a superhero called Captain Underpants. When their school principal threatens to place them in separate classes, they hypnotize him and turn him into Captain Underpants. Together, they battle a supervillain called Professor Poopypants.
Review: The way the movie translates 2D characters into 3D versions is adorable. It reminds me of what Blue Sky did with The Peanuts Movie, though The Peanuts Movie was an even better film. Interestingly, the animation for Captain Underpants was outsourced to Mikros Image as part of a new DreamWorks strategy to reduce costs. The result is nowhere near as epic as How To Train Your Dragon 2, but for a movie that’s set in an elementary school, it gets the job done. It also uses inventive animation tricks to make up for the lack of expensive visual effects. The hand-drawn sequences, varied transitions and the sock-puppet sequence infuse the final product with a fun dynamism.
However, I found the movie extremely boring, almost unwatchable. I was not interested in the story, the toilet humor didn’t make me laugh and I was annoyed by the fact that the two kids were voiced by adult men. The young voices of The Peanuts Movie added a ton of charm and sincerity, something that’s missing here. Captain Underpants offers a remarkably mean-spirited outlook on school life, one that I cannot remember ever sharing as a kid. Kids can be seen having fun without depicting school as a prison. In that regard, playtime was better represented in the Canadian indie Snowtime!, even if that movie also committed the crime of casting adults to voice children.
I did enjoy some of the more absurd jokes (like when an idyllic Saturday morning turns nightmarish with the cat eating the bird, the dog eating the cat and the rain pouring down) as well as the digs thrown by the adult characters (either the principal or the delightfully tragic Professor Poopypants):
“I have the regret to inform you that Professor X is no longer with us.” “He died?” “What? No. He wanted to spend Saturday with his family so I fired him.”
“Are you going to tell our parents?” “No because they are obviously total failures.”
“But you have teaching experience?” “I can’t say that I do.” “Not even babysitting? Camp counselor?” “I never was a camp counselor, although I did receive counselling for some trauma I experienced as a child.”
Verdict: I think this is best left as something that belongs to the kids. The filmmakers did the best they could possibly do with the material they were adapting and their success should be measured by the amounts of laughs gotten out of kids and the satisfaction of the Captain Underpants fans.
- The budget for Captain Underpants was $38 million.
- Here’s how to say “Captain Underpants” in other languages:
- Spanish: Capitán Calzoncillos
- Portuguese: Capitão Cueca(s)
- Danish: Kaptajn Underhyler
- Finnish: Kapteeni Kalsari
- Swedish: Kapten Kalsong
- Polish: Kapitan Majtas
- George and Harold were both diagnosed with ADHD when they were in 2nd grade.
- Harold marries a man when he’s older.
That’s it for today! Check out my article about comic books turned into animated films.