CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE (G, 89 MINS), DIRECTED BY DAVID SOREN,
Tweens George Beard and Harold Hutchins are inseparable.
When not found sharing a classroom at Piqua, Ohio’s Jerome Horwitz Elementary, the pair are holed up in their neighbourhood treehouse working on the latest edition of their comic book Captain Underpants.
The duo’s skills complement one another – George is a terrific storyteller, Harold an excellent artist. They also share a passion for pranks, much to the chagrin of their principal Mr Krupp.
To his continued frustration, he’s yet to catch them in the act, even though he knows they’re responsible for a series of heinous acts against him and other staff.
However, he may at last have caught them red-handed.
After a mandatory Saturday science day ends in disaster when a toileting invention goes haywire, Krupp discovers a hidden camera has captured George and Harold’s tampering.
Prepared to throw the book at them and ensure the rest of their education is carried out in separate classrooms, Krupp is lowering the boom when he’s distracted by Harold’s hypno-ring. Not only does it put the principal in a trance, but it also allows them to bring their somewhat flawed superhero to life.
Arriving 20 years after Dav Pilkey created the first of his 12 much-loved and highlycontroversial (they are banned by many US schools because of their anti-authoritarian leanings) books, David Soren’s ( Turbo) inaugural animated adaptation is both a delightful primer and solid school holiday entertainment.
Like last year’s The Peanuts Movie, this does a terrific job of capturing the spirit and style of its source material. The humour is broad, the animation chunky and the vocal performances over-thetop, the perfect combination for the books’ most-avid audience.
Kevin Hart ( The Secret Life of Pets), Ed Helms ( The Hangover) and Kristen Schaal ( Flight of the Conchords) are among those delivering Nicholas Stoller’s (the most recent Muppet movies) wellhoned and hilarious dialogue.
The constant potty humour may test some older accompanying viewers’ tolerance (much fun is made of a key character’s scatologically orientated name) and the film’s flights of fancy aren’t for everyone, but there’s an awful lot to like about this Superbad for primary schoolers.
And amongst the references to a Whoopee Cushion Orchestra and Professor Poopy Pants, there’s some clever use of different animation styles, subversion of comic-book tropes and a timely discussion on the value modern society places on education.
Flatulent, but not fatuous fun. – James Croot