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Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie - DVD Review

Captain Underpants

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

IN AN age when kids movies exist to impart wisdom as much as entertainment, it’s somehow refreshing to find one that exists almost purely to have fun.

But David Soren’s movie, based on the first book in Dav Pilkey’s wildly popular series, does just that. It’s a juvenile blast, shot full of frenetic energy and low-brow humour that brings out the kid in everyone.

That’s not dismissing it as entirely being devoid of anything to say. There are nods to the various vagaries of childhood that parents will find amusing, pot-shots at the sometimes absurd nature of superhero genre conventions and a knowing appreciation of the healing power of laughter.

But they’re delivered in such a fast and furious fashion that the film never feels like its dwelling on anything serious for too long. Rather, it’s constantly seeking to line up one ridiculous set piece or gag after another.

The story focuses on George Beard (voiced by Kevin Hart) and Harold Hutchins (Thomas Middleditch), two imaginative pranksters who spend hours in a treehouse creating comic books based around the character of Captain Underpants, but whose endless frivolity proves particularly irksome to the joyless school principal, Mr Krupp (Ed Helms).

When Mr Krupp threatens to split the boys up, thereby threatening their friendship, George and Harold take back control and, via a bizarre twist of fate, are able to turn him into their beloved cartoon character, whilst simultaneously paving the way for the rise of a super-villain in the form of Professor Poopypants (Nick Kroll).

Hilarity ensues as a wild and increasingly zany series of encounters creates an unlikely superhero scenario in which George, Harold and Captain Underpants have to save the day.

Given the relentless energy that Soren injects into the movie, it’s perhaps no surprise to report that Captain Underpants sometimes gets a little carried away with itself. But even so, it’s still an unexpected treat to find a film that is so determined to charm by virtue of its inherent silliness.

Indeed, if you’re looking for comparisons, then something like the first Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs exists on the same type of playing field.

And while certainly tearing into your subconscious and rattling your inner child like a toddler on a sugar overdose, Captain Underpants isn’t without heart too. The central relationship between George and Harold is nicely played, and an ode to friendship in its own way, while there’s even a romantic sub-plot that is suitably awkwardly played.

In the main, though, kids will lap up the slapstick, along with all the fart and poop jokes, while adults will find themselves surprisingly entertained in spite of their better instincts. Captain Underpants is a ‘tra la la la” blast.

Certificate: U
Running time: 89mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: December 4, 2017