Twenty years after the publication of the very first epic novel, we get the first epic movie, about George Beard, the kid with the tie and the flat top. With Harold, the kid with the T-shirt and the bad haircut. Remember that now. They are third or fourth graders at Jerome Horwitz Elementary or Penitentiary. The teachers are so mean that they'd be better off as inmate interrogators than youth educators. That's why George and Harold want to defend the children of the hallways just like the superheroes in their comic books, pulling pranks to shake torpors away from the kids and into the teachers for a change. Then principal Mr. Krupp is able to have the liable proof to punish them for their pranking and put them into separate classes. And they honestly have no idea what to do. A last resort is George trying to hypnotize Mr. Krupp into not signing their Classroom Change papers using a hypno ring from some sugary cereal. But it works. Literally. And after a bit of fooling around, they decide to turn Mr. Krupp into their greatest superhero of all time. And now they have to find out what to do with their waistband warrior now their friend while helping him save the real world and keep their friendship together.
Now, I don't know how many readers of mine are annoyed whenever I do storytime, but I have to include it in this review. I got the second, fourth, and eighth book in one package for Christmas once when I was eight. Then I got the third, sixth and seventh but was missing the first and fifth for a while, and then the ninth book hadn't come out until I was thirteen! But anyway, the Captain Underpants books were the first books I ever read in one sitting. My two best friends Jamie and Joanna who are both girls also grew up with them. Heck, one time in 7th grade we had to read the fifth book, or the first Jeff Smith Bone novel, which I also own, and both were distributed by our teacher in French copies. When my classmates found out I had the books in English, everyone wanted to be my partner. Not that French wasn't hard. But anyway, I found out so long ago that Dreamworks was planning this film, and I've had it in the back of my head for years. The result is a movie that I didn't find perfect but I didn't care because I was finally watching Captain Underpants up on the big screen. That may sound like I would've given this film a recomendation even if it ended up having a joke about bread or something humourless. But Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie retains a fair amount of humour and innocence and combines some of the books into a good enough story for a movie I've waited this long for.
When I saw the trailer for this film, the reasoning behind the hypnosis felt less than perfect. Mr. Krupp putting George and Harold into separate classes was not as compelling as becoming Mr. Krupp's personal slaves over blackmail in the first book. I mean, there's recess, or should be even at the brain mushing Jerome Horwitz Elementary, and they live next door. But in sixth grade, I was put in a class that excluded a lot of my friends, and yeah, come to think of it, the result was me growing quite distant until I reunited in Grade 7 (Yipee!) though I doubt Mr. Krupp would allow that for George and Harold. But if you want the idea of that to have a hard impact on you, you really have to think about the idea of separation. And it's even a little overly silly when George and Harold reunite only after a few minutes of separation. But despite all that I've said, Captain Underpants has the irresistibility to create smiles, and not just force them like the teachers, enough to make me feel selfish for ever thinking I could review the books and be critical of anything.
How does it create smiles? Its innocence is one thing. Dreamworks Animation has a talent for reminding us of the days of childhood, when we dreamt of making our own chocolate chip cookies and buying our own chewing gum. Oh, and flying and having laser eyes and walking through walls, something I haven't grown out of yet. And when I watched this movie, I was having a rough day. I still laughed but not as hard as I might've, but I had more fun catching all the references. I also won't spoil anything, but this movie's best moment is when it sheds light on an otherwise hilariously one-dimensional character, and does so without smelling like disinfectant. I was more surprised this movie decided to put that in there than you could ever think.
I was kind of surprised grown-ups would play George and Harold, especially since I've been anticipating their first voices for years now when they'd come to the big screen. You'd be surprised Harold is played by a man who had a minor appearance in The Wolf of Wall Street, but he and Kevin Hart are clearly having a great time right with us.
I also liked how not every adult is portrayed as a fun hater. There's Captain Underpants, but he doesn't count, he's hypnotized. George and Harold's parents don't count either, they're not really in the film. You'll see who I mean. And what helps in bringing this film up to a dice roll between B+ and A- is its credits song. OH! MY! GOOOOOOOODDDD! Captain Underpants' credits song is the best credits song to come out of a film (no pun intended) since Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. I know it will be a new favourite to come for a long time.
Captain Underpants is an innocent piece of enjoyment, a clear-cut rendition of the hit books, and is really hard not to smile at for at least once. I can't wait for the next one.