A Good But Rushed Adaptation
Based on the series of children’s books of the same name, Captain Underpants shows just how to adapt source material to the big screen in a way that engages from start to finish. With bright, bold colours and an imaginative, faithful plot taken from the books, Captain Underpants is a blast, even if it never quite reaches the level of greatness. As with the books, a lot of the jokes come in the form of toilet humour which won’t be to everyone’s tastes. The humour works well with the outlandish plot though and is sure to be a blast for families.
It all begins with mischievous pranksters George (Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch), childhood best friends who’s life is made ever difficult by their principal. When they hypnotise him into believing he’s their comic book creation Captain Underpants, chaos ensues. The film zips along at such a frantic pace from one joke and set piece to the next, it makes it difficult to stop and enjoy the sights along the way which is a little disappointing. For all the positives with the plot, it does sour the experience slightly with the jarring, sequel-bait ending that ends on a cliffhanger. Its a shame too because a few minutes before the climactic reveal, the film does a good job of wrapping up most of the loose ends.
The characters are well rendered though, faithfully adapted almost entirely in likeness from the books. The voice acting, whilst good across the board, is a little jarring given the fact the kids sound like their adult counterparts. Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch do a good job of accentuating the eccentricity and wildness of the children but hearing their adult voices for the two kids does make for a slightly disjointed experience. It does grow on you after a while but it still takes some adjusting. The rest of the cast play their roles well though, especially Ed Helms who’s hilarious rendition of Captain Underpants is bizarrely exactly how I expected him to sound in the books.
Having said all of that, Captain Underpants is about as good an adaptation as you’d expect from the children’s books. Whilst its plot moves along at a breathless pace, rarely stopping to explore the characters in its universe, its still a fun ride nonetheless. The animation is on point though and the characters are faithful to their book counterparts, even with the voice acting doesn’t always hit. A lot of the jokes are derived from toilet humour which won’t be to everyone’s tastes and there are a few recycled jokes including one in particular that’s used several times throughout the film which is a shame. As a family feature, Captain Underpants ticks all the boxes and whilst it certainly isn’t winning any awards for the best animation film this year, its still a solid entry by Dreamworks who could turn this into a winning franchise.