Sca­to­log­i­cal jokes don’t come any cleaner

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

CAP­TAIN UNDERPANTS Di­rected by David Soren Star­ring Kevin Hart, Ed Helms, Thomas Mid­dled­itch, Nick Kroll, Jor­dan Peele, Kris­ten Schaal Cert G, gen re­lease, 89mins

Ge­orge (Kevin Hart) and Harold ( Sil­i­con Val­ley’s Thomas Mid­dled­itch) are two clever best friends and bud­ding comic book au­thors, whose finest work re­volves around the briefs-wear­ing saviour of the ti­tle. Us­ing a plas­tic hyp­notic ring from a ce­real box, the firm chums trans­form their en­tirely un­rea­son­able prin­ci­pal (Ed Helms), into their fic­tional su­per­hero. That may be for the best, for the ne­far­i­ous su­pervil­lain Pro­fes­sor Poopy­pants ( Sausage Party’s Nick Kroll) has ar­rived at the school pos­ing as a sci­ence teacher. How­ever will the clue­less Cap­tain Underpants mea­sure up against this neme­sis, his gi­ant ro­botic lava­tory mon­ster, and class suck-up Melvin Sneedly ( Get

Out writer-di­rec­tor Jor­dan Peele)?

Sling your hook, Spi­der-Man. Twelve books and 20 years into Dav Pilkey’s best-sell­ing Cap­tain Underpants se­quence – 70 mil­lion units and count­ing – and the in­ap­pro­pri­ately at­tired su­per­hero has fi­nally made his big screen bow. In the US, Pilkey’s much-loved cre­ation at­tracts more li­brary com­plaints than Fifty Shades of

Grey, but, as fans can at­test, there’s a bril­liant alchemy to the au­thor’s brand of potty hu­mour, a magic that spills into this new film from Turbo di­rec­tor David Soren. Pilkey, who was di­ag­nosed with ADHD and dys­lexia in child­hood, cre­ated his comic book as a way to reach out to his pri­mary school peers; four decades later the cap­tain re­tains a bub­bly, silly in­no­cence. Lava­to­ries abound, but with­out the as­so­ci­ated bod­ily flu­ids. Sca­to­log­i­cal jokes don’t come any cleaner. In this spirit, the sev­enth planet from the Sun – you know the one – makes for much hi­lar­ity and a cru­cial plot point in this keenly awaited

First Epic Movie. Work­ing from an ap­pro­pri­ately zany script by Ni­cholas Stoller ( Get Him to the Greek, The Mup­pets), the lively cen­tral duo, as voiced by Hart and Mid­dled­itch, pro­vide in­fec­tious fits of gig­gles against in­ven­tive, brightly coloured mul­ti­me­dia an­i­ma­tion. Over-sev­ens should, ide­ally, be ac­com­pa­nied. But stray grown-ups will find plenty to amuse, par­tic­u­larly those adults whose in­ner-child is think­ing: “You had me at underpants.”

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