If you have any contact with kids whatsoever, you’ve probably heard someone remark, “Kids can be so mean to each other,” upon witnessing said mean behavior. The adults might admonish little Kathy or little MIchael, telling them to be nice to the other kids. Kindness is one of those character traits that we hope our kids possess and continue to grow in throughout their lives.
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie advocates kindness. It also advocates creativity and friendship. If your kids are familiar with the books by Dav Pilkey, they will probably get a kick out of the age-appropriate potty humor and fart jokes. These abound in the movie, too. I have to confess that I really enjoyed the antics of George (Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch), having been one of those kids who giggled whenever there was a bit of flatulence. George and Harold considered it their mission in 4th grade life to make every effort to get one over on their principal, Mr. Krupp (Ed Helms) who allows no fun in his school.
The evil principal or teacher is not a new concept in kid’s movies. What other nemesis could a 10-year-old have, right? What sets Captain Underpants apart is the way the main characters express their creative imaginations. George is a born storyteller and Harold is the aspiring artist and together they create the Captain Underpants comics, which have been confiscated by Mr. Krupp. When threatened with being put in separate classes, they hypnotize Mr. Krupp into thinking he’s Captain Underpants (sans superpowers). At first, controlling Mr. Krupp is cool, but it doesn’t take long before George and Harold realize that with no powers, Mr. Krupp is vulnerable and they try their best to protect him.
Enter the new science teacher, Professor P (Nick Kroll). When the kids find out his name is Poopypants, laughter breaks out in the classroom. Well, for everyone except the geek, Melvin (Jordan Peele). So Melvin and Poopypants team up to try to shrink the laughter-producing part of the brain with a ray gun and a huge walking toilet swirling with who-knows-what. Can Captain Underpants save the day?
Ridiculous? Absolutely. Crazy fun? Positively. Good for kids? Unequivocally. I mean, who doesn’t love a symphony played with different-toned whoopee cushions? All kidding aside (well, not really), Captain Underpants shows how wonderful true friendship can be and the power of kindness. You see, as George and Harold spend more time with Mr. Krupp/Captain Underpants, they realize that he leads a rather lonely and sad life. No wonder he’s always grumpy. Being the creative kids they are, they begin to be nice to Mr. Krupp, even to setting him up with Edith (Kristen Schaal), the kitchen lady who secretly has a crush on him. As their kindness begins working on Mr. Krupp, George and Harold see a change in him for the better.
Yes, kids can be mean to each other, but if we tell them stories about how kindness can help people (kids or adults) who are mean, they will remember and, hopefully, learn to be kind themselves.