What a pleasant surprise, a kids’ movie in which I actually laughed a lot. To say there’s toilet humour here would be unjust – it actually ends with an attack of giant loos biting and chasing and hurling toilet roll.
But there are jokes and visual innovations, a lo-fi childlike sweetness and a storming vocal performance from Ed Helms as both Principal Krupp and the useless, titular super hero he’s turned into by naughty schoolboys George and Harold via their hypnotic-ring.
Compared to the current Despicable Me, the room I saw this in buzzed with enjoyment and fun and the simple, squiggled look of some of the animation (more The Simpsons than Finding Dory) made a refreshing change from the shiny carapace of so much digital cartoonery which I find has gone beyond impressive now and merely forms an impermeable sort of membrane, a barrier to emotion, spontaneity and enjoyment. It also mocks the serious po-faced fanboy-ness of the super hero genres that dominate cinema and prevent any serious discussion around it.
Captain Underpants is gloriously silly yet smartly packaged and I think it’ll stretch to more, like the books, of which there are ten so far: these underpants have legs, or something.