Sometimes we get so caught up in our adult lives that we forget how much fun we simply had as children, like the little protagonists of this 2017 movie, Captain Underpants.
So sit back comfortably because your dear grandpa FabioEmme wants to tell you a lovely fairy tale.
Once upon a time, in Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, there were two inseparable friends named George and Harold.
From when they were young, they were always the funniest and wittiest in the class and liked to play pranks on everyone.
Another thing that made them unique was their love of comic books, going so far as to jointly create their favorite superhero, Captain Underpants.
He was a slightly goofy but always cheerful hero, like an overgrown child wearing only his underpants and a red cape, fighting obnoxious villains to protect the world.
As they grew up, these friends found a flesh-and-blood enemy in the real world with their principal, Mr. Krupp, a gruff and stern man who could not stand their pranks.
After the umpteenth mess they made during a boring science fair, George and Harold risk the worst punishment they could imagine: being separated into different classes.
At the height of their desperation, they use a hypnotic ring found in a cereal box, trying to stop the diabolical Mr. Krupp.
This silly idea miraculously works, and they discover to have Mr. Krupp in their hands, turning him into their fictional hero Captain Underpants.
However, they did not know a new villain was coming to their school, replacing their old science teacher.
He is Professor Poopypants, an evil genius hating the sound of laughter because of his ridiculous name, for which people mocked him all his life.
So he prepares a diabolical plan to wipe the sense of humor off the face of the earth, starting right at their school, where he plans to use a ray to shut off the ironic part of the children’s brains.
The exquisite joy of simplicity
Captain Underpants is a 2017 movie that might seem, at first glance, to lack innovation. However, beyond appearances, simplicity represents precisely its greatest asset.
Indeed, the narrative has the same goal as the two budding protagonists: to bring fun and joy to the world.
For this reason, director David Soren chooses a vibrant color palette and a fast pace for this childlike universe as well as the exaggerated proportions of the characters, with bulky bodies and giant heads.
The story focuses on a few adult figures, present only to support the narrative plot, emphasizing the prominence of the young heroes and their adventure filled with enthusiasm and carefree spirit.
Unfortunately, I am unfamiliar with Dav Pilkey‘s children’s literary works that inspired Nicholas Stoller‘s screenplay.
Regarding this animated movie, I can say the mood of the dialogue and the circumstances it presents is consistently funny, light-hearted, and generally extremely enjoyable.
The story is enriched by alternating between the narration and illustrations made by children on simple sheets of paper.
Moreover, often these two characters freeze time, like the famous Deadpool, pausing the movie by breaking the so-called fourth wall to speak directly to the audience.
This concept brilliantly blends the aesthetics and dynamism of the adventure, never leaving a moment of us for the hour-and-a-half duration.
So even those with refined cinematic tastes can surrender from the general idiocy packaged with good-quality CGI animation and the delirious dialogue of the characters.
Fortunately, we don’t live watching only masterpieces, so we can gladly indulge in a few sins of pure entertainment that, despite everything, also has a soul that wants to tell us something.
Tell us what? It is better to live simply and with self-irony, enjoying even your flaws, as the evil Professor Poopypants fails to understand.
Beautiful to see… and listen to
After talking about the direction and vibe of Captain Underpants, let’s also say a few words about the voices behind this 2017 movie.
Straight from the famous saga of The Hangover, we have Ed Helms playing the boring and evil Mr. Krupp and the demented and hilarious Captain Underpants alternately.
A character who has two completely opposite sides, although in the finale, they will find a way to be closer and fight crime with actual superpowers.
Their perfect harmony at any point in the plot is that extra boost to captivate young viewers and adults alike.
Indeed, just as children laugh continuously at their jokes and pranks, adults feel nostalgia watching their fear of separation, perhaps thinking back about that friend they haven’t seen in who knows how long.
Equally successful is the villain with the voice of Nick Kroll, the genial and sociopathic Professor Poopypants, or in full Professor Pee-Pee Diarrheastein Poopypants.
Aside from having to denounce his parents for the cruel name they affixed to him, this character would surely need a long and complex psychological therapy.
Unfortunately, however, he meets the even more boring little boy without a smile, Melvin Sneedly, voiced by the brilliant horror/sci-fi director Jordan Peele.
Through him, the evil scientist finds the key to complete his invention, the devil ray removing the fun from children’s minds by turning them into bleary-eyed zombies.
Finally, we close the circle with the only female character, the dull but hilarious janitor Edith, voiced fantastically by Kristen Schaal.