If you’re over the age of 10, probably just don’t watch Captain Underpants. Dav Pilkey’s source novels burst onto the scene when I was of an age with the film’s protagonists, Harold (Thomas Middleditch) and George (Kevin Hart). They were popular, but I didn’t remember much outside of the titles. After an agonizing 89-minutes of watching the onscreen antics unfold, I came to the conclusion that I must not remember them because they aren’t all that memorable. This story skews unapologetically young, and doesn’t bother to make the effort to appeal to the decade and older crowd. For what it’s worth, the youngest in the audience seemed quite tickled by Harold and George’s pranks, Captain Underpants’ stupidity and all of the antics that the arrival of Professor Poopypants wrought. So, if you’re a kind parent, who loves your child very much, bite the bullet.
For everyone else, here’s the rundown on what you’re not missing. Captain Underpants takes an extremely talented voice cast — Thomas Middleditch, Kevin Hart, Ed Helms and Nick Kroll — and crams them into a bright, episodic string of toilet jokes. Harold are George are the best of pals. They love to draw and play pranks. And they consider it their sacred duty to keep life a school fun, much to the dismay of Mr. Krupp, their buzzkill principal. When the pals take a step too far and face separate classes as a punishment, their world seems to be ending. An act of desperation transforms Krupp into a living version of their greatest creation, Captain Underpants. The transformation solves all of their problems … for about 10-minutes. Then it creates a whole new set of issues, including the introduction of the laughter-hating Professor Poopypants.
Things escalate, but the story remains hollow. The central conflict — fear of losing a friend — is universal, but where Pixar would take that trope and spin it into something that grabs any viewer, this picture occasionally references the stakes and then promptly dips back into gag mode, wherein we watch gag after gag after gag with no impact. Eventually, an end of sorts arrives with a bit of fanfare. By the time the lights go up, every bit of this diversion begins to fade.
Director: David Soren
Writer: Nicholas Stoller (Screenplay), Dav Pilkey (Novels)
Runtime: 1h 29mins
Release Date: June 2, 2017
Main Image Credit: Dreamworks