Since 1997, Dav Pilkey’s beloved Captain Underpants series has turned out 12 books (and a half-dozen spinoffs), been translated into more than 20 languages, and sold a baffling number of copies for a series about two young boys who turn their principal into a near-naked fantasy hero. It’s one of those kids’ book series that anyone of a certain age can remember reading in elementary school (perhaps procured from your local Scholastic Book Fair; do those still exist?), and it only makes sense that sooner or later, the good Captain would find his way to movie screens.
Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch lend their voices to George and Harold, best friends/pranksters/creators of the Captain Underpants character as a way of dealing with Mr. Krupp (Ed Helms), the gruff administrator of their school. Soon, though, Mr. Krupp is turned into an actual superhero, leading to all manner of wild adventures, including encounters with Nick Kroll’s dastardly villain. (For the record, Kroll’s gone from a prominent part in Loving to the role of Professor Poopypants in less than a full year. Acting’s a weird vocation.)
The first trailer for Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is appropriately Dreamworks-y, with its colorful animation, deluge of irreverent sass, and a hot pop hit (Steve Aoki’s “Delirious,” in this instance) that will surely set the children to clamoring for tickets and tie-in merchandise. It’s all a little cynical-feeling for something as unabashedly wholesome as Pilkey’s series, but the one thing that Captain Underpants seems to have nailed down is how to translate the books’ doodle-esque drawings into CGI; the style here recalls The Peanuts Movie and its appealingly childlike approach.
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie will soar into theaters on June 2nd.