Animated Movies, DreamWorks, Reviews, Studios

[REVIEW] ‘Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie’

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My experience with DreamWorks’ latest film Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie will probably be different than many readers. I went into it fresh having seen the trailer, but without reading any of the popular books by Dav Pilkey. I’m not sure what fans of the books will think, but as a newbie to the franchise I walked away completely charmed by the film.

There are two aspects that appealed to me the most about this Captain Underpants film – the inventive animation and the consistently funny script. Let’s start with the visual style:

Captain Underpants was produced outside of the normal DreamWorks studio system for a lower cost at Mikros Image in Montreal, Canada. This is why the film has a different feel than the typical Dreamworks film. However, what surprised me the most was the way it used 2D animation, and even live action puppetry, to tell the story. I have never seen this in any other DreamWorks film.

The CG animated sections also felt new, and reminded me a little bit of The Peanuts Movie by Blue Sky. It was bright, colorful, and constantly surprising the viewer with new approaches and artistic touches.

The other aspect I loved was the comedy. I’m often not a big fan of the parody style of DreamWorks comedies, but Captain Underpants doesn’t take that approach.

While there is a lot of toilet humor, most of the comedy comes from the relationship of the two boys, Harold and George, and their engaging dialogue. For example, when they find out they might be split up into different classes, one boy says, “Oh no. Long distance relationships never work out!”

I also appreciated that the humor is for kids. Like I said, there is a lot of toilet humor but I was so glad to see that there were almost no jokes meant only for adults. I hate that in animated films. This is made for kids, but adults will find themselves chuckling in spite of themselves. Comedy veteran screenwriter Nicholas Stoller takes his experience writing Storks and improves it, and the final result is much funnier in Captain Underpants.

I also loved how the friendship of the two boys, Harold and George, is based on creative play. Instead of mindlessly consuming entertainment, as we often see in kids today, these boys are creating their own stories and worlds. Even their pranks are pretty creative, and meant to bring other people joy.

It’s funny because the one character I kind of forgot about is Captain Underpants and I guess that could be a flaw, but the film is really more about the boys, despite what the title might imply. Maybe in the second movie they will develop his character more?

My only other issue with the movie is that I wish they hadn’t used adult voice actors for the children. The characters are voiced by Kevin Hart (George) and Thomas Middleditch (Harold). It takes me out of the story a little bit, but it’s a small nitpick I was able to deal with. Ed Helms is a lot of fun as both the stern Principal Krupp and the fun Captain Underpants – tra la la!

Overall, I really enjoyed Captain Underpants: the First Movie and I think families should go out and see it. Kids will love it, and adults will be able to appreciate the inventive storytelling and good jokes. It’s a refreshing surprise in the 2017 animation slate, and one I can imagine becoming a favorite DreamWorks film for many families.

✮✮✮

Edited by: Hannah Wilkes

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About Rachel Wagner

Rachel has loved animation since she was a little girl singing songs from The Little Mermaid at the top of her lungs. She currently works in social media marketing and loves to blog and vlog about Disney, Pixar and all kinds of movies in her free time. Her favorite movie is Up and she considers herself quite the Cinderella aficionado seeing every version she can get her hands on. She also loves animated TV shows like Simpsons, Gravity Falls, Star Wars Rebels and more. Follow her on twitter @smilingldsgirl

  • I read the first book growing up and even when I knew this story was kinda really out there (for a mind of a closed minded Elementary student like myself….) I kept coming back to the first book for some reason when the book was around my classroom since it blew my mind with how Captain Underpants became this hero (again given I was a little kid)
    And from the trailer I felt just like a kid with how much they went really close to the origin from the book and that animation totally agree reminded me so much like Peanuts it made me feel kinda nostalgic!
    So glad it’s getting good press and I’d totally see it maybe this summer, really awesome review and good points too on its VO work ^.^

    • Manuel Orozco

      I’m surprised about the good press myself. Although this summer is giving me too little to make me want to pay to see this flick. But in particular Wonder Woman, Cars 3 and Spider Man Homecoming. Besides, I wasn’t really excited for Captain Underpants at first.

    • Rachel Wagner

      Thanks! I bet you will love it!

  • Manuel Orozco

    That answers my question. I’m going to wait for the movie to come out on Netflix and see Wonder Woman this Sunday instead! The trailer that I played before Power Rangers really fooled me! The animation does slick but I didn’t get the Peanuts Movie comparison at first. I’m not familiar with the books even though I skimmed through them as a kid. Anyway, good review Rachel

    • Rachel Wagner

      It’s good. You should give it a shot

      • Manuel Orozco

        Now that I’ve read your review, maybe I will. I might as well since after this we won’t get another DreamWorks feature until How to Train Your Dragon 3 two years from now. In fact, I was thinking our next countdown should focus on DreamWorks Animation. By the way, I’m not big on potty humor these days.

        • Rachel Wagner

          Yeah I normally hate potty humor but it worked

          • Manuel Orozco

            Ok and I hope it was used wisely.

          • Manuel Orozco

            Hey Rachel I saw Wonder Woman yesterday and I loved it.

          • Rachel Wagner

            Right! Isnt it amazing!

          • Manuel Orozco

            Great as Man of Steel but better than BVS and Suicide Squad combined. WW was visually spectacular with epic action, refreshing bits of romance and banter was on point.

          • Manuel Orozco

            Hey there Rachel. I thought I like to give you a headsup. Yesterday, the Twitter page for Disney Television Animation announced a sneak peek of Olaf’s Frozen Adventure will play before Cars 3 next week. If any of your kids are still under a case of Frozen itus (joke intended), I would be ready if I were you.

          • Rachel Wagner

            Oh fun! I still love Frozen so excited to see that

          • Manuel Orozco

            I’m a little excited for it. I may watch it on ABC. I’ll accept whatever happens as long as Olaf in the spotlight is used wisely and the girls are given more screen time together.

    • Same here. I’m not gonna rush and see this, since I didn’t read any of the books.

      • Manuel Orozco

        Ditto but I will rush and see Cars 3 next week or so

        • Same here. It looks 100% better than Cars 2 in every way.

          • Manuel Orozco

            Might end up as great as but at least that’s just my opinion. Guess we never know until it happens.

  • Dave 52

    I plan on watching the movie this weekend. Really looking forward to it!

    • Manuel Orozco

      Feel free to let me know how it goes because I’m seeing Wonder Woman

    • Rachel Wagner

      Can’t wait to hear your thoughts

  • Marielle

    2017 is turning out not so bad after all. Captain Underpants is getting good reviews, Cars 3 looks better than expected, and even The Emoji Movie had a decent trailer. And then there’s still the actual good stuff left: Coco, The Breadwinner.

    • Rachel Wagner

      It’s true!

    • Manuel Orozco

      I agree 2017 is not so bad. I enjoyed Lego Batman and Smurfs Lost Village. Plus I rented Kubo and the Two Strings and Moana

    • True, but it’s a rather quiet year. There aren’t too many huge releases this year.

      • Manuel Orozco

        Which is actually a good thing to add some breathing room for some movies that may possibly be favorites amongst critics and audiences.

        • Guess I’m not used to this quietness after all the films last year.

          • Manuel Orozco

            What do you mean quietness?

          • There were so many animated films last year compared to now.

          • Manuel Orozco

            Now that I think of it, you’re right. But at least it’s a good thing that they are not many. Then it would be like 2013 all over again with Despicable Me 2, Frozen, Planes, The Croods, Turbo, Monsters University and Epic.

  • Renard N. Bansale

    Given the film’s positive reception, I think I’ll have to see the film again soon—it didn’t impress me with its break-neck mania. which didn’t even draw one instance of guttural hilarity out of me. (Goodness, even Baywatch gave me one of those.)

  • Dave 52

    FINALLY saw the movie and all I have to say is this: Bring on Captain Underpants: The Second Epic Movie. Because if it’s as funny, brilliantly and gleefully ridiculous, energetically cartoony, witty and visually creative as this movie then I can’t wait for the return of George, Harold, and Captain Underpants.

    • Rachel Wagner

      Yes!

  • Thanks Rachel. Didn’t think this would end up getting better reviews than Boss Baby.

    • Manuel Orozco

      Me neither