I honestly wasn't expecting a movie about a faux superhero named Captain Underpants, who is really just a mean elementary school principal who has been hypnotized, to be any good. It has no right to be, because its source material, which I loved as a child, is rather silly and relies heavily on toilet humor, but Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie exceeded my expectations.
So, what did Captain Underpants do to transcend the typical children's film cash-in craze? Well, it stays pretty true to its source material and has a lot of heart. I say pretty true because the villainous Professor Poopypants (Nick Kroll) wasn't introduced until book 4, but I'm not complaining because he's a great villain... and yes, that's his real name. Don't laugh! The heart revolves around the friendship of George (Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch), a pair of fourth-grade pranksters. Hart and Middleditch really bring these two goofs to life, and their hijinks are a hoot - not headache inducing.
For a kid's film in 2017, Captain Underpants is actually well paced, taking its time and not just throwing things at the screen to keep little eyeballs glued to the screen. You can really tell that a lot of passion went into this project. It's gorgeously animated, the story is equal parts funny, crazy and heart wrenching (yes, really), and it also dares to break outside the box by throwing in a little sock puppetry, which manages to be a real highlight of the show. Another highlight is the theme song for Captain Underpants, which is sung by parody king "Weird Al" Yankovic, whose musical talent was specifically used as a prank by George and Harold in book 1. So, it's pretty cool that he got in on the gag.