Australian Council on Children and the Media

Captain Underpants: The first epic movie

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Not recommended under 5, parental guidance 5-8 due to violence and scary scenes

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Captain Underpants: The first epic movie
  • a review of Captain Underpants: The first epic movie completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 11 September 2017.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 5 to 8 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children 8 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Captain Underpants: The first epic movie
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: Very mild crude humour
Length 89 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Captain Underpants: The first epic movie is an animated movie about the comic creation of two best school mates George (voice of Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch). George and Harold attend the Jerome Horowitz Elementary School which is run by mean Mr. Krupp (Ed Helms) who believes in a most austere type of education. George and Harold are continually getting into trouble for their pranks they play. They spend the evenings in George’s tree house writing the Captain Underpants comics. Captain Underpants is a dim-witted super hero who flies around in just his underpants.

When Krupp threatens to permanently separate George and Harold they have to come up with a plan. George tries out his hypnotising ring on Krupp and discovers it works and so he turns him into Captain Underpants. As a result, Jerome Horowitz now becomes a fun school with music, art and a fun fair. Things are going well until the arrival of the evil Professor Poopypants (Nick Kroll) whose main aim is to rid the planet of laughter. The battle is then on between Captain Underpants, alternating as Krupp, and Poopypants.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

None of concern

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is a lot of comic violence in this movie, some examples include:

  • George and Harold’s pranks include making things explode and scaring other students with a tiger.
  • Melvin (Jordan Peele), a clever but humourless boy in the class, invents a self-cleaning toilet which he displays in front of the school. George and Harold reset the works and it starts shooting toilet rolls into the audience and then shoots Melvin up into the air.
  • George throws darts at a picture of Krupp.
  • Robots start shooting each other then a giant turtle crashes through the wall, setting fire to everything with a laser beam in his eye.
  • When George hypnotises Krupp, he firstly turns him into a chicken, then into a monkey which repeatedly hits his head on the ground. When he turns him into Captain Underpants, he crashes through the window and falls to the ground. He gets up and is hit by a car. He punches a clown, then helps an old lady to get her cat down from a tree by throwing her up into the tree. Captain Underpants then jumps onto an inflatable gorilla and bounces all over the place. George and Harold chase him in a crane causing much chaos. George and Harold manage to knock Captain Underpants out and cart him home in a trolley.
  • Professor Poopypants throws objects around including an axe, a mace and a chainsaw.
  • Professor Poopypants has invented a machine that can make objects larger or smaller. A scene shows him firing his machine randomly at children and objects making them large and small.
  • Professor Poopypants and Melvin stamp through the town in a giant toilet bowl, zapping at children’s brains to remove their sense of humour. Poopypants flushes Captain Underpants down the giant toilet bowl. George and Harold are picked up with giant hands and their brains are zapped.
  • Krupp shoots at a kitten

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Mr Krupp is a scary, large man who often yells and screams at the children.
  • Jerome Horowtiz is a bleak looking grey school, often shown with flashes of thunder and lighting.
  • Professor Poopypants is also a scary looking character who appears quite mad.
  • The giant turtle with a red beam coming out of his eye is quite scary.
  • Captain Underpants lands on two robbers preventing them from escaping. There is the sound of evil laughter and again thunder and lightning.
  • Krupp’s house looks scary from the outside.
  • Captain Underpants often transforms back into Krupp and visa versa which can be quite confusing.
  • The scene when the children inside their school are made tiny looks quite scary.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • George’s hypnotising ring makes Krupp’s eyes swirl and then everything in the room starts to swirl.
  • When Professor Poopypants zaps the children they all have dull, glazed eyes, including George and Harold.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Nothing of concern

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

Only imitation brands

Sexual references

There is mild flirtation between Krupp and a school assistant called Edith.

Nudity and sexual activity

Captain Underpants is, as suggested, dressed only in underpants

Use of substances

Nothing of concern

Coarse language

There is coarse language in this movie, including:

  • A lot of crude humour and language. The children all laugh at Professor Poopypants’ name and there is mention of diarrhoea.
  • George and Harold laugh out loud at kindy when learning about the planet Uranus.
  • Professor Poopypants’ machine is called Fart 3.

In a nutshell

Captain Underpants: the first epic movie is a comic animated film based on the very popular book series by Dav Pilkey. It is aimed at school age children and its frequent toilet humour will probably appeal to this age group. The film’s underlying message about the grimness of a world without any fun is probably right, but it is taken to an extreme.

There are some scenes and characters that might scare young children, so it is not recommended for under-fives and parental guidance is recommended for children aged between five and eight.

The main message from this movie is that everyone needs a little fun in their lives.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Is playing pranks on others really fun or does it cause more harm than good? When does it become bullying?
  • Mr Krupp is obviously an angry, embittered man who is also very lonely. He eventually has a date with Edith, but is he angry because he is lonely or is he lonely because he’s a mean angry person?

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