Training Pants Off, Underpants On…For Kid Focused Comedy

underpants

 

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?

 

LIKES:

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

DISLIKES:

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

The VERDICT

 

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.

 

Animation/Action/Comedy:  6.0

Movie Overall: 5.0

Got Hard On Racial Stereotypes! A Simplistic Comedy That Tries Too Hard

Get Hard

            It seems like comedies are trying just about anything to get a laugh these days, scraping the bottom of the barrel for potential plots. As a result we get movies like Unfinished Business, Ride Along, and now Get Hard. To help breathe some life into the ridiculous tale the trailers show, the casting department has roped comedic legends Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell to help pull in some box office bucks. From the trailers you might expect:

  • A comedy about stereotypical prison motifs
  • Strong racist jokes that most likely know no bounds
  • Crappy plot that is usual of both of these actors
  • Same old comedy styles of the actors

So what do you get?

I can report the first two points are the strongest themes of this movie. The plot for those who don’t know is about Will Ferrell’s character James being arrested for embezzling and fraud.   The eccentric and arrogant millionaire has 30 days to get his affairs in order, which involves learning to survive in prison by local car washer Darnell (Kevin Hart). Already you might be cringing, but I admit some of the prison humor is creative, in particular the prison setup itself. I laughed more at the setting itself than the actual jokes, due to the simplistic setup and irony of James’ staff being the wardens. Unfortunately the jokes weren’t as entertaining, most of the scenes were shown in the trailers and those that weren’t, focused on the same joke themes of sex, sex, and a little prison fighting. Coat all of these jokes with curse-laden frosting and you get a mediocre comedy whose only break comes from Ferrell’s ridiculous rants. For your information, the prison riot scene has some intense strobe light action, which may precipitate seizures. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

How do they attempt to keep the prison jokes fresh? By adding every racial profile and stereotype joke you can think of. Get Hard spares no expense to poke fun at our perspectives of folks that end up in prison. Over the 100 minutes, you’ll get pummeled with mannerisms and lingo that are often associated with African thug life, including Ferrell trying on his “black face” as he calls it. They even threw in a few thug track lists to help seal the deal, some of the songs I do like. I chuckled at a few of these jokes, particular at Hart’s little impressions he plays so well, however like the prison jokes these too became stale, losing their comedic edge. Most of the jokes will be taken okay, but like always they occasionally overstep their boundaries with their jokes, perhaps starting another boycott for racial slurs. So here I warn that if you are easily offense by color jokes, you should skip this movie.

To my surprise the plot actually wasn’t half bad in this film. Get Hard has some a decent foundation for the jokes to hold anchor to mainly in the form of shaping James from pompous wuss into street champion. However there is a cute tale of brotherhood that adds some depth to otherwise one-dimensional characters and gives a little something else to the film, though not as good as Wedding Ringer. Yet it still is shallow and simplistic, and doesn’t have the emotional kick I would have liked to see.

Acting wise there isn’t much unique about this performance. Hart takes a step back towards his roots with a few shouting rants interspersed with his typical F bomb dialog. Fortunately he hasn’t returned all the way back, managing to dial down his craziness with some clever lines and good comedic timing. This allowed me to once again enjoy his comedy without wanting to punch his face in or rip my ears off, a positive thing indeed.. I can’t say the same for Ferrell though. Somehow the hairy, homely looking white guy gets a hot woman and other than money I can’t figure out why? Babes aside though, Ferrell is still the pompous, overconfident boob he always plays in his movies. He still carries his lines with that air of superiority, though in this installment he frequently degrades into a whiney, pathetic baby. I felt he tried to hard in this movie, forcing his lines on me instead of perfecting the delivery like he used to do. Much of his lines were in that high pitched whisper from Elf, only without the over-energetic emphasis that Buddy had so long ago.

If you haven’t guessed it yet, I did not enjoy this movie as much I had hoped. Get Hard is indeed another simplistic comedy, where one is bombarded by endless jokes and derogative laughs. Sure it is fun at first, but most of the funny parts were shown in the trailers, and without the course language. Yet for those who love the comedians’ work, you’ll most likely laugh your heads off with the racial profanities and prison slapstick. You’ll enjoy it even more if you are drunk. Overall the choice is yours, but I recommend saving your money and catching this movie on RedBox in a few months. Believe me you can wait.

My scores are:

Comedy: 6.0

Movie Overall: 5.0