If you have a problem with fart gags and scatological slapstick... why are you reading a review for a movie called ‘Captain Underpants’? Adapted from the hugely popular series of knockabout kids’ books by American author Dav Pilkey, this hectic cartoon aims for broad laughs with its story of two prank-loving boys who semi-accidentally hypnotise their cruel principal into believing he’s a Y-fronts-wearing superhero. Thanks to a feverishly fast-paced script by Nicholas Stoller, the man behind ‘The Muppets’ reboot, it also sneaks in some actual satire and a touch of heart among all the giant toilets and pre-pubescent sniggering.
George (voiced by Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch) have been friends for ever, hiding out in George’s treehouse sketching comic books about their invented action hero, Captain Underpants. But when the evil Mr Krupp (Ed Helms) threatens to separate them for life, George whips out his cereal-box hypnotism ring and goes to work. Soon, Krupp is rampaging around in his pants trying – without great success – to save the world.
Crammed with shrieking kids, flying bog rolls and a villain called Professor Poopypants (Nick Kroll), ‘Captain Underpants’ can definitely get a bit much. But just when your brain’s starting to ache, the film chucks in another subversive crack about America’s failing school system, or a genuinely hilarious sock-puppet-animated flashback. It’s been an absolutely disastrous summer for kids’ movies – here’s one that parents might conceivably enjoy as well.