You should watch it for no other reason than it’ll have you laughing constantly throughout.Remember school? Supposedly the best years of your life but actually a time of unending misery spent locked away in a rat infested hell hole? Remember how scary those teachers were? How the monotony of learning endless dates and quadratic equations could only be broken up by throwing paper aeroplanes at each other across the endless columns of school desks? Then this film is for you.
Captain Underpants is a fantastic tale that’s perfect for anyone who remembers their school days with a less than rosy reminiscence. The plot and style of the film feel as if they’ve literally been transposed from a child’s imagination. Its appeal to the lowest common denominator, whether it’s the constant refrains to toilet humour or the unbelievably dumb nature of the hero, provides an opportunity to simply laugh your head off without having to worry about picking up on any moral message inherent in the story. Indeed if there is any message to this film, it’s more along the lines of reconnecting with your inner child than anything else.
Indeed if there is any message to this film, it’s more along the lines of reconnecting with your inner child than anything else.
The film captures everything that made the school what it was. From the way, the two main characters, Harold and George, bask in the glorious freedom represented by a Saturday, to the way education feels like you’re being force fed information rather than actually learning anything. The villain’s abhorrence of laughter and his resulting need to crush everyone’s sense of humour serves as the perfect metaphor for this. So does toilet humour, in terms of kids snickering because they’ve said a rude word, as a literal means of salvation for the main characters.
You should watch it for no other reason than it’ll have you laughing constantly throughout.
Of course, the film is also satire, following society’s own taboos against showing overly disturbing images, by rendering its most ‘violent’ scenes into stick figure format, with the usual sophisticated computer animation of the genre, being replaced by crude pencil drawings on paper, the way a child might doodle, in an attempt to relieve boredom. While this does have the perhaps counteractive effect of momentarily whitewashing one of the characters, it also takes the absurdity that is the film’s triumph to even greater heights, though sadly we don’t get to see flying dolphins take on the giant toilet.
Perhaps the most endearing aspect of this film is the titular character’s redemption. Captain Underpants is also Principal Krupp. His sadistic pleasure in trying to break up Harold and George’s pleasure hides the fact that he’s somewhat lonely. His rebirth as the hero provides a vehicle for his own growth, giving him the courage to ask out the lunch lady, but also allowing Harold and George to show him some compassion, once they’ve got past the fun of endlessly turning him into Captain Underpants. That could be another moral to this film, but if so it’s a moral that takes a very much second place to the main story, as opposed to say Inside Out, where the moral crafted the narrative.
Ultimately the moral isn’t why you should watch this film. You should watch it for no other reason than it’ll have you laughing constantly throughout. Oh and reminding you why the school was truly not the best days of your life.
By Gareth Wood