Reviews: Captain Underpants The First Epic Movie
Loved this movie!
I wasn't expecting to love this movie so much! I enjoyed reading the books as a kid, but I had low expectations from the trailer, so me and my twin sister Brianna decided to give it a shot and we watched it in theaters. We were both blown away by it! This is my favorite animated film and my favorite DreamWorks animated film. I love animation and this movie gleefully celebrates being a cartoon in the best way possible. The movie is beautifully animated, the characters are likable, and the humor is very funny. My favorite character is Harold. Why? Because he likes dolphins, like I do, and he's such a cute and endearing character. I also loved the other characters, too. The voice acting is top-notch across the board and they all bring their characters to life without being distracting. Thomas Middleditch (Harold) and Kevin Hart (George Beard) have impeccable chemistry together and their friendship is heartwarming and sweet. I was so invested in these characters that I wasn't bothered by the fact that Kevin Hart was voicing George. He is much more subdued and funny and less annoying here than he was in "The Secret Life of Pets". And Ed Helms and Nick Kroll are clearly having a blast playing Mr. Krupp/Captain Underpants and Professor Poopypants, respectively. There is also a sequence with sock puppets and that was an unexpected surprise for me! There is also some 2-D animation, occasional instances where Harold and George Break The Fourth Wall (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BreakingTheFourthWall) and a sequence where Harold and George use the Filp-O-Rama technique from the books! I also love the fact that a Caucasian boy and a African American boy are friends. Diversity has gotten better in movies and TV shows, with this and "The Loud House" (Lincoln is Caucasian and Clyde is African American and they're friends, Clyde's parents are a gay couple and are also interracial), and it's implied that at the end of one episode that one of Lincoln's older sisters, Luna, is bisexual. Overall, this movie was a pleasant surprise for me and my sister and I can't until August 29th (28 days/4 weeks from now) to download this movie on my iPad so I can watch it over and over again!
A chance for the animators to cut loose and show animation can really do
The Captain Underpants movie is the last thing I'd have expected to like. It's by DreamWorks. The poster shows the character making DreamWorks Face (lopsided smirk, one eyebrow raised while the other is lowered). And, just look at the name. And it's aimed at elementary school kids. I saw it with my niece and nephew, figuring I should go spend time with them at the theater. (I'm already the "cool uncle" who plays video games with them, pillow fights, hiding plush toys for them to find, etc., and I even play outside with them, but I still figured I should go) To my surprise, it was... pretty good! The one thing that sticks out to me the most is the animation. They clearly got experimental with the animation, and really took advantage of what animation can do that would look more weird in live action. Speed lines for moving things. A metaphorical sequence where the two kids are shown sitting on two separate planet Earths that are moving away from each other to symbolize being moved to separate classes. The principal's wig flying off, then back on, when he loses his temper. All sorts of animated flourishes that are just soooo cartoony, more than I've ever seen in either hand-drawn or CGI before! The animation alone is reason to see it, to be inspired by a cartoon that knows it's a cartoon and does just about everything that only cartoons can possibly do. There's even a fun sequence involving an enlarge/shrink ray that zaps many random things, enlarging or shrinking them - including parts of a character's body such as a hand or a head - and it's so rapid-fire and well animated that it was actually pretty funny. I suspect the animators may have looked at the original books' abstract cartoony art style and saw this as their chance to cut loose and really have fun with animation, and I think it shows. I've never seen anything that's this, well, animated, so to speak, before. The humor is very "elementary school", yet to my surprise, I laughed at quite a bit of it. The delivery was rapid-fire and while there were almost zero "jokes for the adults", the kid jokes ranged from "only kids would laugh at this" to "that's actually pretty funny". It helps that a lot of the humor was slapstick, which tends to translate well across ages. On a more social note, it's great to see a movie where a black and white protagonist are placed on totally equal footing. George isn't the Black Best Friend, but is totally Harold's equal peer. A subtle detail, but one that I think sends a great message to kids, by being treated as unremarkable. Anyway, this movie won't go down in history as one of the greats of animation, despite its, um, great animation, but it's a lot of fun to watch both for the visuals and for the jokes. I'd gladly watch it again.
I grew up reading the "Captain Underpants" series, so I was pumped when I found out a movie would really be happening. I wasn't disappointed; in fact, it exceeded my expectation. The slapstick is great, and I liked that the film's humor retained Pilkey's social commentary, especially his criticism of the school system. The animation was also beautiful, and once you get used to the kids sounding too old, the voice acting was also really good. Here's hoping it gets a sequel!