When I first heard about “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie”, I smiled. I knew that this was a movie that my kids would probably love. After seeing that title, I suspected that its filmmakers know what makes kids simultaneously amazed and amused. I was excited to just tell them the name of the movie, and when I did, the reaction I received was the one I expected, a long drawn out, “Whaaat?”, that started low and finished with a high pitched sound that my hearing likely didn’t catch. The Little Man blurted out, “That’s ridiculous”. He tends to think that ridiculous means awesome.
Sadly, our family was in Strassbourg, France on the day “Captain Underpants” was released, and we would be travelling through France and Germany as the film was playing in North American theatres. As we moved from city to city, I looked up the local showings but never found a theatre that was playing the movie, and so I began to look forward to watching “Captain Underpants” with the kids when we arrived back in Toronto. Last week, the film was released on home video. Remember that term? I mean, of course, that the movie is now available to stream or buy on BluRay.
Disclosure : This post is in partnership with Fox Entertainment but, as always, opinions are TOTALLY ours!
Last Friday night, the moment arrived. I had been telling the kids all week that we would be watching “Captain Underpants” soon and promised them that when they got home from school on Friday, we would all watch it together. We even had the Official Handbook of the movie, which is a great guide that introduces the film’s protagonists, two Grade 4 pals named George Beard and Harold Hutchins, and loosely outlines the plot of the movie, including the origin of Captain Underpants and his introduction to Professor P, the film’s antagonist.
The P. in Professor P. stands for Poopypants, providing the story with its second, er, unusual name. Once again, when the kids heard that the villain’s name was Poopypants, it thrilled them to no end. He is quite the creation too. Evil, because he wants to rid the world of laughter, but by no means sinister looking and not likely to frighten small children. The Handbook ends on a cliffhanger, leaving us all eager to watch the movie to see how the adventure would conclude.
That night’s bedtime routine went about as smoothly as possible. With the promise of popcorn and a movie on our big screen TV, the kids dutifully ate their dinner, got a bath, and played quietly as they waited. After they snuggled up next to each other with their popcorn, I put the movie on and they were hooked immediately. George and Harold’s adventures begin at school, where they are inseparable. The story of how they met is explained in quick flashback (naturally, they bonded through toilet humour), and before long, the mischievous duo are odds with their abnormally mean principal, who threatens them with the worse punishment of all, putting them into separate classes.
Before long, Captain Underpants is born, brought to life from the pages of comic books created by George and Harold, and the adventure moves at a brisk and frequently hilarious pace. A giant toilet is eventually brought to life, shooting toilet paper projectiles and trapping our superhero in its toxic goo, and George and Harold eventually conquer Professor Poopypants with the help of their overgrown capacity for laughter. It’s all so perfectly suited for young children that it’s as if the film’s scenes were pulled from the collective subconscious of kids everywhere. Days after seeing the movie, the kids will instantly shift from sullenness to glee at the mere mention of Captain Underpants’ catch phrase, “Tra La Laaaaaaaaaaa” (he spells it with 11 Ls).
From a parent’s point of view, I was happy to see this movie revolve around the school and the classroom. As parents struggling to get our Little Man to be a more active participant in his JK class, our hope is that he was watching this movie and taking in all of the positive aspects of school. The bond between George and Harold is the film’s heartwarming centrepiece. Their scenes together are so well imagined that I found myself thinking about playground memories that I hadn’t recalled of in years. Growing up, I had a close friend with whom I spent an inordinate amount of time, even though we went to different schools. Like George and Harold, we spent a lot of time trying to put our imaginations to use. I just hope that the pure joy reflected in George and Harold’s relationship will spark our Little Man to look for a similar companion or two.
The perfect audience for this movie is kids aged 4 to 12. The film doesn’t solely rely on toilet humour, through it does do it better than any kids movie I can recall. There are slapstick elements that had my kids frequently laughing out loud, many of which I enjoyed too. A few of the jokes went over their heads, and the film does contain some slang and pop culture references that will seem dated to future generations, but these devices are minimally used. I suspect that “Captain Underpants” will be thrilling kids for years.
As a movie buff, I have been so eager for these movie nights with the kids that I have overreached at times. This past summer, I sat them down to watch “The Princess Bride” but quickly realized that they are still too young to appreciate it. Much of what our kids watch is aimed at small children and with them not yet ready for the likes of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, finding movies that Yashy and I will enjoy as much as the kids do is pretty tough. I had a good feeling about “Captain Underpants” the moment I heard that title. I figured that it would be a movie that combines humor and adventure. As a film lover, I wanted to see a clever and nostalgic movie. As a parent, I wanted a film that would not only make the kids laugh, but one that they could understand and recap. “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie” meets these expectations. Bring on the second epic movie, after our kids have watched this one a dozen times, of course.