If I could be completely honest, I have never read Dav Pilkey's "Captain Underpants" novels. I know there were some kids that were attracted to the books, but they just never appealed to me, unlike other series. So, when DreamWorks Animation announced they would be making a movie about the superhero, I didn't know what to think. I went into this movie with my mind split and walked out pleasantly surprised. "Captain Underpants" is silly, stupid and childish, yes, but it's intentional resulting in a funny movie with some pretty decent humor at times. Still not convinced that this film is actually good? Well, here's my take of the movie.
Two creative fourth grader best friends George Beard (Kevin Hart) and Harold Hutchins (Thomas Middleditch) have been excessively pranking the cruel teachers at the very boring, and dull Jerome Horwitz Elementary School while creating childish comic books together after school involving a superhero named Captain Underpants. Their principal Benny Krupp (Ed Helms) has been getting frustrated by the twos excessive pranks and is determined to put order to their school decides to take immediate action to separate the two by putting them in different classes. The boys, thinking that they friendship would fall apart if they stay separated, then accidentally hypnotize Krupp with one of those cheap hypnotizing rings you find in cereal boxes and decide to have some fun by having him turn into their own comic book character. What happens next involves crazy scenarios with the principal and even an evil Professor (Nick Kroll) with a name some childish that I'd rather not spoil, resulting in a funny and silly film.
After I finished watching the film, I'd began to wonder in my car why this film succeeded with its silly plot rather than DreamWorks previous movie "The Boss Baby". Well, one reason is the writing. Writer Nicholas Stoller, who also wrote last years "Storks" knew how to take the books silly humor and make it work in a big film. While there are some childish moments in the film, it mostly relies on good kinds of humor including my favorite kind in which characters break the fourth wall to talk to the audience as seen in movies like "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and last years "Deadpool". Another reason it worked was the animation and characters. The animation was top notch. It's bright and colorful style had a perfect match to the films cartoony look similar to "The Peanuts Movie" and the characters designs looked so much better compared to the hideous ones I saw in "The Boss Baby". The characters also had more likable personalities. Both George and Harold feel like actual kids because they did things normal kids do. They created comics, they laughed at stupid things, they pull pranks. Yeah, kids do that. The principal's split personality was also a lot of fun and Stoller know exactly how to make both sides of the character work. But, I think the biggest reason that this movie succeeded where "The Boss Baby" failed was the fact that it didn't take itself as seriously. The idiotic plot of "The Boss Baby" tried to have an emotional experience and really backfired because the plot was just too ridiculous whereas this film knew that it couldn't make a movie about a superhero who only wear cotton underwear and a cape emotional so they just decided to go all out and make it silly fun. That's why I think this movie succeeded. As far as problems apart from some of the childish moments that I think did go overboard, my biggest was really the casting choices of George and Harold. While both Hart and Middleditch were great in the movie, they were badly miscast. I really wish that actual kids were picked to play these parts. I mean, seriously? Why does Hollywood think that people want to see grown-up adults males playing ten-year-old boys? It's gotten pretty annoying! But, I digress.
So, is "Captain Underpants" a must watch experience? No. Though is it a good movie to put on to have a good laugh and get your mind off of things? Absolutely. The silly and stupid nature of the film makes the film an enjoyable experience and a film that DreamWorks really needed under their belt. This is the film that I could see getting a successful franchise unlike "The Boss Baby" which somehow is already getting a sequel. If anyone at Universal or DreamWorks is reading this, please take my advice. Cancel the sequel to "The Boss Baby" and make a sequel to this instead. This is something that your company needs. Oh, and while you're at it, don't make a sequel to "Trolls" as well. One movie was painful enough.