Captain Underpants: ThomasNATION Review (by JF the LOLZOR)

July 04, 2017

Here's another film review. This time its DreamWorks' "Captain Underpants." JFtheLOLZOR shares his story of another special book series he has an intimate connection with - just like all us Thomas Fans do with RWS. Read his Captain Underpants review:

Hey hey, Jack Frefigs back at it again! A while back I done reviews on Trolls and The Lego Batman Movie. So, what the hey; one more can't hurt. 

Today, it's Captain Underpants' turn to get reviewed with his all new animated feature. This movie is the latest film from the lovely lads at DreamWorks Animation, based off Dav Pilkey's phenomenal books. You may be wondering about my views on their previous film this year, The Boss Baby. Well, it's nothing special, but still okay. Sure, the writing is workshopped and kinda predictable, but to its credit, it can be witty thanks to Alec Baldwin, the animation is nice, the heart is in the right place and Hans Zimmer's score is the highlight of the film. 

Now what you must know about me before we begin is that Captain Underpants is my jam. I read it as a kid, and still read it to this day. It's among one of my favorite book series along with Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the Railway Series. So now that it's the Captain's turn to get his own movie, will the second DreamWorks movie this year be as funny as George and Harold's comics, or will it just get rid of laughter altogether? Well, before I tell you that story, I have to tell you this story.

It's no surprise that George Beard and Harold Hutchins are the stars of the film. The hilarious voices behind them are Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch respectively. Oh, by the way, I hope you don't mind me saying, George is the one on the right with the tie and the flat top, and Harold is the one on the left with the T-shirt and the bad haircut. Remember that now. 

Then we have the Captain himself. He is voiced by Ed Helms. We also got the mean principal Mr. Benny Krupp, also voiced by Helms. After all, Captain Underpants is just a hypnotised Krupp.

The movie's villain is Professor Pee Pee Diarrhoeastein Poopypants Esquire (no, I'm not kidding, that's his actual name), voiced by Nick Kroll, pulling off his famous German accent from Sing. We also have our favorite little tattletale Melvin in the film, who also serves as Poopypants' minion. The voice Jordan Peele gave him is absolutely hilarious, even if it does sound like Stingy from LazyTown. And of course, there's got to be some vocal cameos, seeing as this is a modern animated movie, but only one vocal cameo is made by Kristen Schaal. 

Not a lot, but you can tell that it's all they really need. A bit like The Boss Baby, the acting is phenomenal, making the characters fully fleshed out and even funny.

If you have a history with the Captain, you know how the story goes. If you don't, let me put it this way. George Beard and Harold Hutchins are two troublesome kids who love to pull pranks to bring some fun at Jerome Horwitz Elementary, or as Harold calls it, Jerome Horwitz Penitentiary. When their mean principal, Mr Krupp, decide he needs to put an end to their friendship, the boys decide to hypnotise him with a ring that George found in a box of cereal. They end up turning him into The Amazing Captain Underpants, and things get out of hand. 

But big shock (again, not too big a shock if you read the books), Professor Poopypants is the bad guy, building a humongous toilet to conquer the world and completely get rid of laughter, with the help of Melvin, who has no sense of humor like a chair or a supermodel (no, really, that's an actual quote from the movie). Can the Waistband Warrior save the day, and will George and Harold stay best friends?

Image result for captain underpants movie screenshot

The design of the movie is far different to that of any of the other DreamWorks movies. It wasn't even animated at the studio, it was instead animated at Mikros Images, the same people that brought us their version of The Little Prince. The film seems to take a turn similar to what Blue Sky Studios did with The Peanuts Movie, making the style as reminiscent to the source material as possible. But unlike The Peanuts Movie, Captain Underpants doesn't try to have a 2D look to it. 

Another interesting thing about the animation is that it mixes a lot of animation styles, from the innovative computer animation of the main course, to the vibrant traditional animation of the comics, to the hilarious scene where the characters are sock puppets and then a giant turtle breaks the wall and robots come in trying to kill each other. I'm sorry; was that a spoiler? I don't care, that scene was so funny, I had to mention it. The animators even found a way to incorporate Flip-O-Rama into the movie. And it is executed in a really great way that stays true to the section of the novels, down to the point that the page even tears. 

Speaking of pages, at the beginning of the movie, when George and Harold leave the school, George actually makes the transition look like a page flip. It is pretty funny, yet somehow I think it's a little too on the nose. It may not be as good as How to Train Your Dragon, but it's probably the most innovative animation in any DreamWorks film.

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I dunno why, but I have to find the scene where George and Harold hypnotise Krupp to be the best scene in the entire movie. Even more than the final battle. The scene of the hypnotism could be one of the biggest differences from the book. In the book, the kids hypnotise Krupp and that's it. There's very little suspense or anything to make it more awesome, and instead it's just two kids hypnotising a guy. Here, when the hypnotism takes place, the characters start levitating, lasers start shooting out of the school, and the entire office turns from a simple room to a huge vortex, making it the most epic moment in the film, where the animators really have a chance to shine to make it look amazing. In fact, it looks visually stunning. 

Also, before Krupp becomes Captain Underpants, George and Harold make him think he's a chicken and a monkey. That moment was so funny I nearly fell off my seat laughing. The scene alone is very faithful to the book, down to the point that it can sometimes be funnier.

It's the movie's sense of humor that tells you that this is a Captain Underpants movie, since the books aim to be comedies, and it appears to be Priority Number One. Out of everything I've reviewed in the past, from Trolls to Percy and the Magic Carpet, this has to be the one that takes itself seriously the least, down to the point that it doesn't at all. That wouldn't be a good thing if this were a film by a studio like Laika, but what makes it work is the fact that while the movie takes itself anything but seriously, neither did the books. 

Some DreamWorks films like Home and Shark Tale are considered juvenile and annoying because of the humor. Here, if the comedy were put into any other DreamWorks film like the Kung Fu Panda franchise or Rise of the Guardians, then every poop, fart, pee and burp joke is obnoxious and very low brow. However, when you factor in that this is a Captain Underpants movie, then all the groan worthy jokes are not only funny, but true to the spirit of Pilkey's creation. 

It's a movie of the same calibre as films like The Simpsons Movie. If you rewatch it, you'll discover a new gag you didn't see in the past, from the clever sight gags to the witty verbal jokes to the running gag involving Harold's love for dolphins. Not only that, but like I said, the level of the self awareness is dangerously close to the levels of The Lego Batman Movie. For example, there are times when George and Harold would talk to the audience, and on one instance, we're about to see the battle between Captain Underpants and Poopypants, but the film becomes self aware about its violence and budget, giving us the Flip-O-Rama sequence. 

Another thing that really works about the movie is the heart, that being the friendship of George and Harold. You can wind up sympathising with the duo, as the heart brings us some moments that relates to people that have lost a friend, and probably the saddest moment to come out of the studio since How to Train Your Dragon 2. While it may not be the most serious movie out there, nor is it the most heartfelt, it certainly is the funniest animated film since Hotel Transylvania.

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The music of the film, like the animation, is truly delightful to listen to. The score is done by Theodore Shaprio, and his score is absolutely top notch, like it were something that came out of a kid's imagination. But onto the songs. We have the theme song by Weird Al (who was funnily enough mentioned in the first book) which captures the spirit of Captain Underpants. Then, we have "A Friend Like You" by Andy Grammer, which ties in to the movie's heart perfectly, and excerpts of it are used in Shaprio's score. 

Also, there's a cover of "Think" by Adam Lambert which is arguably the best song in the film. Not to mention a cover of the song "Oh Yeah", which if you don't know was the Ferris Bueller song. However, if there is one thing about the songs that deserves any form of criticism, is that there are times where George and Harold burst into song. 

I'm hesitant to say they're bad, but "Saturday" is probably the worst song in this. It's pretty forgettable, it makes Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch look like terrible singers and it can get on the corny side, even by kids movie standards. However, that doesn't mean I hate Nathan Willett's version. In fact, it's really enjoyable. And their rendition of "Hallelujah" is very well crafted. Here, they both sound like really good singers, especially Middleditch as Harold. So while they have their flaws, they don't make the songs any less fun.

So with that, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is not only one of the best animated movies of the year, it's the best DreamWorks movie in ages. A movie that stays extremely faithful to the books with a greatly executed story that leaves absolutely no stone unturned, jokes that feel like the bottom of the barrel has been put to good use, innovative animation and fun musical numbers. If you're a fan of Dav Pilkey's books, if you love DreamWorks, or if you're curious about what this is, then please, go watch this movie. 

This film must be seen to be believed, and I just cannot recommend it enough...well, maybe not to those who don't like Captain Underpants, because while it's one of the funniest animated films out there, at the end of the day, it's still Captain Underpants. Also, if you stick around during the end credits, you'll be able to see a hilarious mid-credits scene. I think I'm being too kind to the movie, but I just couldn't be happier to give a 5/5 to the DreamWorks version of The Peanuts Movie.

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About the Author:
Jack Frefigs (JFtheLOLZOR)
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