Childhood friendships are often formed for the simplest of reasons – a shared love for a particular pop group, say, or a shared hatred of broccoli. And a shared passion for silly jokes and pranks can see the strongest of bonds form. Elementary schoolboys George and Harold, for example, bonded in class one day when the teacher was telling them all about the planets of our solar systems and they both started giggling when she mentioned Uranus. As one does.
Since that magical day, George and Harold (voiced by Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch) have been the classiest of class clowns and the best of bestest buds, hanging out together as much as they can during every waking hour. Mischievous but not malicious, the boys love nothing more than playing (harmless pranks and having a laugh, primarily at the expense of the school's principal, Mr Krupp (Ed Helms). They also enjoy creating their own comic book, all about the adventures of the superhero Captain Underpants (George is the artist and Harold is the writer). But when Krupp tires of their antics after confiscating the latest issue of their homemade comic, and he threatens to put them is separate classes (which the boys fear will spell the end of their friendship) George hypnotises Krupp using a ring he got from a cereal box – and with the snap of his fingers, Krupp believes he is Captain Underpants.
So now the boys must chase around town after Captain Underpants/Krupp to make sure he doesn't get hurt. For although he may think he has actual super-powers, he's just a regular school principal and can't actually fly or smash down doors or save cats from trees. Of course, the Captain is much nicer to the boys than Krupp was, so they are a little torn about restoring his mind to its normal persona. And when the new science teacher Professor P (Nick Kroll) actually turns out to be an evil villain named Professor Pee-Pee Diarrheastein Poopypants, who is seeking revenge on the world for laughing at him all these years, Captain Underpants is the only one who can save the day.
As you may gather from the name of the villain, this is a very silly movie, full of somewhat immature toilet humour and fart jokes that children of all ages will find irresistible. And that is its primary charm. DreamWorks has shown itself to be a pretty decent animation studio, thanks mainly to the likes of the Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How To Train Your Dragon movies. With a look similar to last year's wonderful Peanuts Movie, a sharp script from Muppets scribe Nick Stoller and a voice cast that's having great fun with the material, Captain Underpants is a surprisingly fun and very funny film that often goes in directions you may not expect – and has one of the best sock-puppet sequences seen in many years. It's often quite absurd and utterly ridiculous, but Captain Underpants definitely has its heart in the right place with it's central theme of the importance of friendship. Fart gags and all, Captain Underpants uses its lowbrow humour in a very, very smart way and guarantees a fun time for all – there's a very good chance you'll laugh so hard you'll poop your pants.