As the summer movie season gets underway DreamWorks Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie comes to theaters today. Movie fans of a certain age will be aware that Captain Underpants is based on Dav Pilkey’s series of childrens books. The Captain Underpants books have been around since 1997, and they are famed for sending pre-teen children into fits of laughter. Many parents were less amused by Captain Underpants. There have even been campaigns to have Captain Underpants banned from elementary school libraries, because they are full of lavatorial humor.
According to the L.A. Times, it was the lavatorial humor that attracted comic actor Kevin Hart to his role as George Beard, in Captain Underpants. Hart, a veteran of Scary Movie and the Ride Along, was asked what attracted him to the role, and revealed that “farts and poop” figured highly.
“Farts. Farts and poop. I don’t think I’ve ever said ‘poop’ so much in my life. ‘Poop’ was high in the vocab in my house after doing this movie. ‘Get out of here, poopyface!'”
Hart’s co-star, Ed Helms, who plays Principal Krupp, and his alter-ego Captain Underpants, agreed that “poop” is a great word, but he was keen to stress that “there are some really meaningful themes undergirding this very, very juvenile, silly escapade.”
The Captain Underpants books have sold over 50 million copies in the U.S. alone, but in the unlikely event that it has all passed you by, here’s a brief synopsis.
George Beard and Harold Hutchins are two imaginative and mischievous fourth grade students. Their pranks lead Principal Krupp to threatening to separate them whilst in school. The boys accidentally hypnotize Krupp and he turns into his alter-ego, Captain Underpants. Cue our “superhero,” an overweight, balding, middle-aged man, who goes into battle against talking toilets, zombie nerds, and other foes, while calling out his “Tra la laaaa” war cry.
Is ‘Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie’ any good?
According to Variety, Captain Underpants is aimed at your “inner five-year-old,” but says that the movie will really only appeal to real five-year-olds.
“Captain Underpants scampers around in stretched-out tighty-whities and speckled cape, performing good deeds of staggering imbecility. In addition to underwear jokes, Captain Underpants features peepee jokes, fart jokes, and giant monster-toilet jokes.”
“Captain Underpants is an animated bauble that wears its heart on its whoopee cushion, though if you don’t happen to be five-years-old, it may strike you as more cheeky than hilarious.”
The New York Times says that Captain Underpants has an “indecipherable” plot, and that adult-oriented humor grows increasingly scarce as the movie progresses.
It seems that the commentators are in agreement, that Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, is firmly aimed at children who are young enough to find words like “poop” or “fart” hilariously funny. The best children’s animated movies often appeal to adults, because they contain humor that will pass over the heads of younger children. They also tend to teach children a sense of morality. Captain Underpants lacks both of those qualities.
That said there is plenty of room in the movie world for a comedy that seeks to do little more than make children laugh. If you have young children you should be prepared for repeat viewings of Captain Underpants. As you would expect from DreamWorks, Captain Underpants is beautifully animated and full of innocent, though often lavatorial, humor.
The Captain Underpants books are aimed at 8 to 10-year-olds, and that demographic will undoubtedly delight in the slapstick and slightly anarchic tale of Captain Underpants‘ battles against “Professor Poopypants.” Perhaps parents will be less impressed, but they can certainly enjoy the movie for what it does provide.
[Featured Image by DreamWorks]