There’s a scene in Captain Underpants where the mean principal under a hypnotic control unlocks a heavily locked and bolted door labeled ART DEPARTMENT, letting in a large group of kids who excitedly take up dust-covered equipment and start drawing, painting, what have you. Under the surface-level toilet gags and general silliness, what really drew me to the series as a young kid was it’s surprisingly cynically satirical depiction of the failings of public school in America and the ways in which the more creative aspects of children are often neglected in favor of standardization. Yes it was silly, but there was a joy and wit in that silliness. With a name like Captain Underpants a lot of the gags are smarter than they have any right to be and there’s a genuine heart to the friendship between the two main characters that a lot of children’s writing often struggles to replicate. Dav Pilkey, the author, had ADHD and Dyslexia in school and was often dismissed by his teachers as having his head in the clouds for his love for making silly drawings over busy work. Yet he persevered to make a beloved series of books that features two characters who face similar dismissals but find solace in each other and making goofy comics that bring laughter to their peers. I wasn’t a trouble maker in school, but I often had a lot of lonely years where even in my hardest days I could find refuge in making crazy characters and knowing that despite everything I had enough creativity to make other people laugh. And as ridiculous as it sounds, the Captain Underpants books made me feel like my sharpened but often off the wall sense of humor over the more desirable traits like popularity or athleticism was a strength. All George and Harold needed to be happy was each other and the ideas that came from their head! That’s the power of art and all the ways we can interpret it. From start to finish this movie is a love letter to creativity. Through stop motion, sock puppets, 2D animation, and crude comic squiggle vision (even Flip o Rama!) this movie was a love letter to all the ways kids can be creative and just enjoy this sense of youth even in the face of a school system that wants to suppress that. And not in a way that has a personal disconnect like Middle School Max Keeble style movies, but ways that feel like they come from a real place such as a history teacher literally yelling out a list of years to memorize to a room of depressed children.
By all accounts I don’t mean to bring politics into a post about Captain Underpants of all things, but in a society where our own president wants to defund the arts for children, I can’t stress enough how important it is for kids to see a fun and witty movie where so much joy is displayed to be found through drawing or painting or writing. One of the most heartwarming moments that takes a break from the endless gags is just a wordless sequence where George and Harold are just sitting back to back making comics and laughing at the jokes that the other are making. Everything else not mattering because they have this moment of creativity and when they have the chance to control their principal under the guise of Captain Underpants, they make one of their commands to unlock the art room and share this happiness with the rest of the stifled students.
And that’s why even with the silly names and giant robot toilets (although in my eyes those are an added bonus) this is an important film to take kids with budding minds. It’s wacky and fast and fun but also has some smartness behind it that more animated movies need. That even though you KNOW it’s stupid and immature it’s okay to laugh at the word Uranus and just have the ability to laugh even when the rest of the world is rough. It certainly did a lot for me when I was their age.
so i just saw captain underpants and I HAVE (spoiler-free) THOUGHTS
the animation is just gorgeous
it took all the best parts of the first four books and smashed it up into one
the voice acting is great. the kids sound a bit old but you get used to it quick
THEY MANAGED TO INCLUDE THE FLIP-O-RAMA
also i cracked up when harold accidentally tore the page bc i ALWAYS DID THAT
mr. krupp was fucking hilarious
actually so were most of the scenes in the school
the kid in the locker? me. actually me.
i really liked that george and harold have a very touchy-feely and openly sentimental friendship, but no one ever makes fun of it and it’s never treated as weird – it’s a bit of a double-standard that boys can’t be as affectionate with their friends as girls so i’m glad to see the movie doesn’t fall into that
the entire scene in the treehouse where krupp keeps snapping back and forth between his real personality and the captain
mentioning the animation again because it’s really beautiful
the puns, oh my god the puns
also i haven’t laughed that hard at poop jokes in ages but seriously the writing is great
it also didn’t skimp on the social commentary that’s in the original books
please go see it
if you read the books, you’ll be happy with it. if not, it’s a great movie on its own
i took my little brothers to captain underpants (full title: Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, for reasons i can’t comprehend) and wasn’t prepared for how it was really extremely good and clever and true to the original series’ sense of humor. it’s not my favorite animated movie, but mainly because Warner Animation Group’s entire output still exists, and that’s frankly an unreasonable standard to hold anyone to
Alright, but who wants to talk about Melvin Sneedly?
In the book series, he was always kind of my favorite villain to start with (I have a thing for adorable sassy child villains- look at how many posts I’ve liked with tags like “Gideon Gleeful” “Diamond Tiara” or “Barry Bling” if you don’t believe me)-I mean, he was cute, stuck-up, and kind of a fun character to laugh at. Personally, I think he’s best just a villain of the children, waging battle against the children, but then again, he had quite a few different forms throughout the series, including Octo-Melvin, the Bionic Booger Boy, and Mr. Melvin-so yes, a fun character on his own.
Look at that. Look at that picture of Melvin showing off PATSY 2000 with that adorable smug face and tell me he isn’t the best.
And then came the movie.
Generally, I’m not too huge of a fan of books being made into movies, as they can’t show all the detail, gloss over a fair amount, and have to do some creative work to get it from one character’s perspective. (And, according to Mac’s principal, must cost under $500 to produce and have an underlying message of friendship!) But, although I ramble a lot about Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, I must say, Dreamworks did it beautifully. (Complete with Flip-o-ramas, misspellings, and whoopee cushions!) And everything they did to Melvin’s character just adds to how Melvin-y he really is, starting from the slightly cliche first-appearance-reading-a-dictionary, to finding out he has no biological sense of humor. At all.
Oh, and the extra-credit roll definitely marks him up to the Cinnamon Roll Hall of Fame. ((Shout-out to that moment when Mr. Krupp pretends to throw Melvin the extra credit and Melvin catches it…! And tucks it in his pocket..! Aaaa, my goodness, I could watch that all day.))
So yes. In essence, Melvin Sneedly is amazing. That is all.
Anyone remember that flip-o-rama scene in the movie? George made Harold angry.
“ITS A FLIP-O-RAMA! I LIKE DOLPHINS! THE DOLPHINS ARE IN.”
“Okay. Just continue the story please.”