Superheroes seem to be the theme of this weekend at the movie theater. For those not interested in the Amazon princess’ tale another caped crusader awaits in the hallowed halls of the silver screen. No, it isn’t Batman, but instead a more childish hero to fight ridiculous antagonists. And tonight, my review is on the waistband warrior himself… Captain Underpants and his first feature film. Based on the hit children’s comic book/novel series, the latest kid’s movie is here to try and bring the laughs contained in its pages. Did it succeed? Robbie K here to help answer that question, so let’s get started, shall we?
- Cute Factor: We all know kid movies can vary like the flavors of Baskin Robbins ice cream. Captain Underpants is along the cute variety, filled with that fun, G rated goodness reminiscent of the Peanuts Movie. The trailers are accurate in stating there is a great moral lesson about friendship, one that just may touch your heart and call up your best friend. If the sappy parts don’t make you say awwwwww, the sound of your child laughing certainly will.
- Nostalgia: If you read the books, or co read with your young one, then good news, the movie captures the spirit of the series. Watching Harold and George trying to control their gallivanting hero is sure to bring a flood of memories back at the adventures in the book. In addition, you’ll find ridiculous villains, potty based humor, and even Flip-o-rama all integrated in the short run time of the movie. Ahh, the power of reliving your childhood is a strong thing indeed.
- Voice Acting: No academy award worthy performances in this movie, but the voice acting fits well with the ludicrous tone of this movie. Kevin Hart’s high pitched voice fits so well with the character of George, primarily the obnoxious laughter I pictured the character having. Thomas Middleditch helped compliment his co-actor in his wispy voice. Ed Helms was a toss-up for me. I didn’t find his portrayal of Mr. Krupp the same tone as my imagination, but he certainly nailed the boisterous, whimsical tone of the superhero nimrod. And finally Nick Kroll certainly has the over exaggerated accent down pat, and made for an entertaining antagonist at times.
- The Art Style: DreamWorks animation nailed the media for this movie for me. Bright colors, dazzling lights, and a trippy spin were exactly what I expected for the Captain Underpants universe. This film “flips” between animated panels of a child’s drawing to the 3-D cartoon CGI image and it works to capture that kid friendly energy and nostalgic blast to the past. And as there aren’t too many kid’s movies using this style yet, so the uniqueness is always appreciated.
- Very Kiddy: The trailers warned us about this, and even the comic books did as well, but Captain Underpants lacks the adult factor many cartoons hold. Much of this movie is simplistic potty humor, incessant laughing, and mindless bantering that may hold little humor to those above the age of 12. And to be honest, much of the movie loses its comedic spin within the first third of the movie. A little more wit could have gone a long way to save this movie from getting stale.
- No solid story: Masterpieces from Pixar and Walt Disney studios have a blend of humor, character development, and story. In Captain Underpants… that is sadly not the case. The spirit of adventure is missing in this film, diluting the suspense aspect of the film to stuff more bathroom humor in the mix. And without a solid story to base the humor upon, it feels kind of like a failed stand-up comedy routine than a theater worthy film.
- Lacking Emotional Kick: While the movie does portray the power of friendship well, it still lacks that the emotional slam dunk that others have perfected. Captain Underpants doesn’t have much tug to the heartstrings and while you can laugh with the two of them, you can’t really connect to the characters at hand. Without that investment, it makes it that more difficult to invest in the movie. Therefore, I was bored for much of the movie, jealous that the younger audience could relate to the fart humor more than I could.
- Over exaggerated Voice Acting: Yes, we know the characters are all supposed to be overdramatic spoofs meant to tickle the funny bone. Doesn’t mean they had to go over the top on the voices ALL THE TIME. Much of the voice work eventually drops into the annoying zone and for some characters very quickly (how many Tra-La-Las did we really need to hear?). Without the clever writing to back it up, not even this star-studded cast can save the eye rolling, or teeth grinding moments contained in this film.
Captain Underpants is a different spin on the superhero genre, and one that is very welcoming to the younger generations. With a very focused comedy towards its demographic, parents aren’t going to find much gold to this movie outside the art style and the melody of children laughing. Despite the nostalgic run it brought, there is not much to this film to make it theater worthy (unless you need a 90-minute tranquilizer for your kids). Therefore, I recommend this one be saved for Netflix or Redbox instead of the theater.
Movie Overall: 5.0