Friday, 28 July 2017

Review: Captain Underpants - The First Epic Movie

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
Cert: U / 89 mins / Dir. David Soren / Trailer

Well it's not every day I'm pleasantly surprised by a film that's essentially a mashup of Weird Science and a 1986 Viz character. Not least when it deftly borrows the freeze-frame fourth-wall-breaking of Deadpool, the evil genius with a shrink/enlarge weapon from Ant-Man and the mass-mutation beam of the X-Men movies, and manages to clock in with a U certificate, to boot.

Dreamworks' Captain Underpants is the big-screen debut of Dav Pilkey's books by the same name (and alas clocking in too late for this year's Adaptation series) and follows school-friends Harold and George as they unwittingly bring to life their own cartoon creation, the eponymous captain.

First things first, this is a silly film. Delightfully, masterfully silly, in fact. Don't let the BBFC rating make you think it's been unduly sanitised on its journey to the cinema, although there's comparatively little in the way of double-entendres*1 'for the parents'. If you're going to enjoy this with your youngsters, it'll be because you're on the same level*2. Which is, in all honesty, the best way anyhow. While the film isn't entirely devoid of 'message', comedy is the foundation here. And if the grown-ups can have movies like that, why shouldn't the kids? The bottom line is, I laughed more in the first five minutes of this film than I did in the entirety of Cars 3.

Although it dips in and out of various animation styles for small set-pieces, the majority of presentation is in smooth CGI models (thankfully in the artwork style of the source-text). Personally I'd have preferred something which felt like it held a little more weight, ie stop-motion style, even if that was simulated. But at the end of the day, this is Dreamworks, not Laika. And speaking of such matters, the two lead characters would probably be better if they'd been voiced by kids instead of 'enthusiastic sounding men', but it's not like this pulled me out of the fun at all.

At 89 minutes this is a lean show, but the runtime fits the story that's being told and the film ends just before it runs out of narrative steam (there's a mid-credits scene if you're so-inclined). Sure, in the long-term maybe it's a little forgettable, but as some animated features are forgettable while you're watching them, it's ridiculously entertaining throughout. And in the Summer-holidays, that counts for a lot.

The cleanest toilet-humour you'll see this year, and all the better for it. If you don't laugh during this film, you were probably never a child.

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Minions, Weird Science, things containing fart-jokes.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
If you have padawans you'll probably be dragged along to it anyway.
That's no bad thing

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Well, I think Kevin Hart has found his natural cinematic home…

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Which, in a film like this, is frankly ridiculous

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: This film features the work of Thomas 'additional voices in The Old Republic' Middleditch.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 That said, the 'uranus' joke is mined on more than one occasion and like a Stewart Lee routine, just gets funnier each time. [ BACK ]

*2 Because y'know, not every building in a movie that's numbered '213' is a reference to Jeffrey Dahmer/Slayer. I accept that now. [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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