Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is squarely aimed at elementary school-age children. It's a nonstop barrage of potty and poop jokes. Imagine if the juvenile humor spigot was attached to a firehose. It is unrelenting. But to my complete surprise, absolutely hilarious. I found myself laughing quite a bit through this film. The characters are extremely likeable with just a touch of heart. The film has a pretty endearing message about the value of friendship. Sometimes you take for granted the people close to you. And only realize how important they were after they are gone. Beyond the antics of the troublemaker characters, kids will leave Captain Underpants with a healthy respect for their best pals.

George Beard (Kevin Hart) and Harold Hutchins (Thomas Middleditch) are the prankster kings of their elementary school. They rebel against their teachers and the system with clever gags thought up in their tree house. They write comic books in their enclave. Their favorite character is the valiant, but dim-witted, tighty-whitey wearing, Captain Underpants. He always saves the day, or at least attempts to.

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Principal Krupp (Ed Helms), a grumpy and lonely man, has had enough of the boys shenanigans. He has come up with an ingenius way to end their prank tyranny. He plans to separate them, then put Goerge and Harold in different classrooms. Drumroll please, at opposite sides of the school. The boys are aghast. Just when it seems they are foiled, George hypnotizes the simple-brained Krupp. He is transformed to a real life Captain Underpants. The license for prank mayhem is unleashed for the giddy culprits, until the boys realize they have bitten off more than they can chew.

Captain Underpants is based on the illustrated novels by Dav Pilkey. They are hugely popular with children. I'd never heard of Captain Underpants until I read that the books have been banned by several school districts. This aroused my curiousity. What on earth could be so controversial? The answer is not a darn thing. Captain Underpants is about children expressing themselves creatively. Yes, they cause trouble, but are not mean spirited or malicious. The boys are essentially fighting against a system of thought. The film shows the dreary, soul crushing, rats in a maze march of conventional schools. They are not mindless drones to be imprinted on.

Once George and Harold create Captain Underpants, they come to understand why Principal Krupp is so mean. He has no friends. No one loves or cares about him, or so Krupp thinks. The boys discover that a certain lunch lady has an eye, possibly two, for the gruff Krupp. They use their ingenious prank skills for good. Friendship and companionship is the message of this film. It's burried in fart jokes, but there for all children to learn.

Captain Underpants is much better than expected. Granted, expectations were low, but this film is truly a pleasant surprise. I can see why the Pilkey novels are so popular. Every kid deserves a chance to dream big and play in a tree house. Unlock their creative minds, maybe cause a little trouble for the stiff adults, but do it all with love and caring. From 20th Century Fox and Dreamworks, Captain Underpants is a great choice for the little ones at the box office. Just be prepared for a prank attack after.

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