DreamWorks has never been the company to stray away from a strange idea, hence their most recent major release, Captain Underpants.
Based on the book by the same name, the film follows the story of two mischievous elementary school kids named George Beard (Kevin Hart) and Harold Hutchins (Thomas Middleditch), who spend hours a day writing comic books together. Sadly, George and Harold go to an authoritarian elementary school, where their mean Principal named Benjamin Krupp (Ed Helms) wants to separate the boys into different classrooms. In a last ditch effort to save their friendship from certain demise, George and Harold hypnotize their Principal, turning Mr. Krupp into one of the boys’ comic book characters, a superhero named Captain Underpants. Now it is up to George and Harold to keep the kindhearted but dimwitted Captain Underpants under control, as he attempts to fight crime with no actual powers.
Captain Underpants is one of the most diversely animated films I’ve seen in the past few years. Sprinkled throughout its runtime, Captain Underpants utilizes countless styles of animation to help tell its story. This works extremely well, as the visuals are always delightful to look at and will be able to keep most people engaged in the story.
The majority of the film is animated using a style similar to Mr. Peabody & Sherman and The Peanuts Movie, both exceptionally good flicks. This form of animation fits nicely for Captain Underpants too, using bright colors and smooth images to make everything really pop.
Films like Captain Underpants are why I admire and respect DreamWorks more than any other animation company working today. They’re willing to take a risk on an idea that may ultimately blow up in their face. They think outside the box and go with concepts most companies wouldn’t dare dabble with. This is very different compared to a company like Pixar, who makes high quality films, but time and time again plays it safe with stories they know will be a big hit.
So was Captain Underpants high art? No. But it was entertaining, and did its source material a great justice. Captain Underpants has some funny gags and humorously written characters, and will mostly appeal to the goofy middle schooler demographic. Fans of the book are sure to love every bit of the film, and I think that’s what DreamWorks was going for here.
The Verdict: B