George and Harold are two imaginative elementary school kids fond of pulling pranks. They also created a comic book superhero named Captain Underpants from another planet where everyone just wears underpants and has super powers. Their principal, Mr. Krupp, is always trying to find a way to punish them for their antics, with his ultimate plan being to put them in separate classes and destroy their friendship. Diabolical, right? After being called to the office yet again, George pulls out his 3D Hypno Ring he found in a cereal box and accidentally hypnotizes Mr. Krupp (“I didn’t think that would actually work!”). After making him perform as various silly animals, the boys decide to make him be Captain Underpants! Trouble is he really thinks he IS Captain Underpants and runs off to fight crime!
Once they think they finally have the situation under control, a new science teacher comes to the school named Professor P and it turns out he has an evil plan to exact his revenge on anyone who has ever laughed at his name (which turns out to be Poppypants!). Can George and Harold stop the mad scientist, protect the school, and keep Captain Underpants/Mr. Krupp safe from himself?!
I was lucky enough to see this in a completely empty theater (benefit of seeing an 11:50 am screening), so I was able to laugh as loudly as I wanted. Which I did, a lot!
Featuring the voice talents of Kevin Hart (“Central Intelligence”, “Ride Along”) and Thomas Middleditch (“Silicon Valley”, the new Verizon commercials) as George and Harold with Ed Helms (“The Office”, “The Hangover”) as Mr. Krupp/Captain Underpants, Jordan Peele (“Key and Peele”, “Keanu”) as their humorless classmate Melvin, Kristen Schaal (I actually worked with her on an episode of “30 Rock”) as the lunch lady Edith, and Nick Kroll (“The Kroll Show”, “Sing”) as the nefarious Professor Poopypants, as well as a much-funnier-than-I-expected script, beautiful animation, and a really great soundtrack, “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie” is easily one of my favorite movies of the year.
It’s easy to make a silly kids movie, but the folks over at Dreamworks, the studio that produced the film, continue to do such an amazing job of creating films that kids will love for the silly humor and rewatchability, but also have a strong, positive message. The theme of this movie is the power of laughter and friendship and it comes through with the honesty and earnestness exemplified by two young boys who are best friends through thick and thin. There’s nothing stronger than the bonds of friendship when you’re a kid and this movie places that at the forefront of George and Harold’s tale. The fear of losing each other and losing their sense of humor motivates them to work together to save the day. It’s uplifting and inspiring!
Did I mention it was funny? Because it’s super funny! Very smart, sometimes meta-humor permeates the entire movie as well as a running commentary on the deteriorating conditions of public schools and the apathy toward funding for the arts. At one point Mr. Krupp explains his giant metal office door being funded by cutting art and music classes. More than once, I said, “Ouch” aloud to myself after such digs at the current system (but don’t worry; I was alone in the theater, remember?).
I found myself thinking about the movie the rest of the day and even made my wife watch the trailer that night when she got home from work. I can’t say enough about how fun this was. Can’t wait to see it again!
Rating: 5 out of 5 Snack Packs
Lincoln L. Hayes is an actor and filmmaker living in Vermont. He has a TV show and a podcast about movies. Follow him on Twitter to learn more about them: @lincolnlhayes