Film Review: Trust me and Captain Underpants

How’s your week going? Good I hope.

I have a propensity for daydreaming and I could be an Olympic champion were it measured that way. I was once told by a very wise person (in my opinion) that writers are working when they look out of the window and my goodness have I excelled in that discipline.

Anyhoo, the point to this little tale is fantasising about a different life. Maybe running away with the circus or owning a vineyard or tracking manta ray in the Indian Ocean or disappearing to a cottage set deep in a lemon grove with views down the valley across out to the sea with nothing but an old typewriter for company…see what I mean.

Actress Jodie Whittaker may never have dreamt of being a doctor and yet here she is about to rise as the new Doctor Who.

But before that, she is a fake one in Trust Me (catch up on the BBC iPlayer).

She is initially Cath, a frazzled ward sister in a Sheffield Hospital. She is contemplating leaking some of her first-hand experiences of patient neglect to the local newspaper. However, they want her to front the story and she cannot risk her job as a single parent.

Instead she takes the right road, raising it with the trust – and promptly gets fired anyways.

To add insult to injury, her bezzie is sticking two fingers up to the NHS and leaving her role as an A&E doctor to run away to New Zealand with her handsome sheep farmer fiancé.

During a bedroom break from the prosecco-fuelled farewell party, deserter friend Alison says to Cath to take any of her belongings destined for the charity shop or the tip. Her CV and medical certificates are all in the bin. Well, she did say…

And so starts her new life. She applies for jobs and gets one in an Edinburgh hospital (an establishment thankfully shocking at taking up references, clearly). She follows a few YouTube tutorials on trauma for dummies, practices her sutures and hones her stethoscope mastery and has a How To book in her pocket for reference in the toilets, allowing her to achieve in 10 minutes what takes most a good 10 years.

Soon she is straightening wonky ankles (forgetting the anaesthetic first time around) and rummaging around in collapsed lungs. The series has been created by Dan Sefton who is part screenwriter/part doctor at an A&E department in Taunton, so you can trust him on the accuracy.

(I like a bit of Chicago Fire – I’ll talk about it here sometime – and they have to intubate every single episode. I reckon I could give it a good go now if it ever came to it).

Cath just wants a better life for her and her daughter, which is honourable enough. But if you wired her up to that heart rate monitor, it would be at constant ten to the dozen. So, who is going to rumble her? The bearded senior doctor she finds herself under (professionally and carnally), her rank equivalent or the pesky reporter who is still sniffing about.

Whittaker is a great actress, but this does not give her a chance to fully shine with the wit she can bring to the Doctor Who role. Maybe she is a fake Doctor too. Got invited to Capaldi’s leaving do and found his sonic screwdriver in the wastepaper basket and now has a few months to brush up on time travel.

A deserving mention too this week for the optimistically-entitled Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie – the latest DreamWorks animation based on the popular children’s books by Dav Pilkey.

Fourth grade pranksters George (voiced by Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch) while away their school days creating comics books for their own amusement, using characters based on the downtrodden staff of their elementary school.

The most popular by some distance is that of Captain Underpants – their take on real-life nemesis, the uber-strict principal Mr Krupp (for film geeks – think a syruped Mr Strickland from Back to the Future).

In a bizarre but necessary twist, a hypnosis ring turns fiction into reality and the corpulent Krupp becomes the real Captain Underpants, complete with minimal costume. ‘Tra-La-Laaaaaa!’ he exclaims (as you will) as he goes crashing through a window to save the day….or not.

Into this farce is cast a pint-sized villain in the form of Professor P (voiced by Nick Kroll – reprising an even thicker German accent than he used to great effect in Sing), hell-bent on banning all laughter from the world, as his full name (too rude for print, dear reader) will attest.

Throw into the mix a giant robot toilet, some shrink/grow-ray shenanigans and the funniest school orchestra performance you will witness all year, Captain Underpants might not scoop any awards, but its warmth, knowing script and underlying message – the power of the imagination, creativity and the importance of laughter – will win you and your little ones over.

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