Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie

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Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is a 2017 American computer-animated superhero comedy film based on the children's novel series of the same name by Dav Pilkey. It was produced by DreamWorks Animation, and Mikros Image Montreal with Technicolor Animation Productions provided animation. It was directed by David Soren from a screenplay by Nicholas Stoller, and stars the voices of Kevin Hart, Ed Helms, Nick Kroll, Thomas Middleditch, Jordan Peele, and Kristen Schaal. The plot follows two imaginative elementary school pranksters named George Beard and Harold Hutchins (voiced by Hart and Middleditch) who hypnotize their mean-spirited principal, Mr. Krupp (voiced by Helms), into thinking he is Captain Underpants, a superhero who fights crime while wearing only underwear and a cape, and the main protagonist of George and Harold's comic books.

Captain Underpants premiered on May 21, 2017, at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles, and was released in the United States on June 2, 2017, in 3D and 2D. The film grossed $125 million worldwide against a budget of $38 million, making it the lowest-budgeted computer-animated feature of DreamWorks Animation's history. This was the last DreamWorks Animation film to be distributed by 20th Century Fox. With the film's release in Saudi Arabia paired with The Emoji Movie on January 13, 2018, both became the first films to be given official public screenings in the country in 35 years after the removal of Saudi Arabia's cinema ban.

Plot[edit | edit source]

In the city of Piqua, Ohio, two fourth-grade friends and next-door neighbors named George Beard (Kevin Hart) and Harold Hutchins (Thomas Middleditch) are the pranksters at their school, Jerome Horwitz Elementary School. They excessively pull numerous pranks on the cruel teachers, many of which are directed at their mean-spirited principal, Mr. Benjamin "Benny" Krupp (Ed Helms), putting the two at odds with him. The duo also create comic books about a superhero named Captain Underpants, who fights crime while wearing underwear and a cape. They distribute these to their schoolmates through a comic company called Treehouse Comix Inc., located in their treehouse. George and Harold's pranks come to an apparent end after they're caught tampering with a toilet invention, the Turbo Toilet 2000, made by the school's local snitch and intellectual, Melvin Sneedly (Jordan Peele), on video. Finally having solid proof of the boys' antics, Mr. Krupp excitedly prepares to annihilate their friendship by putting them in separate classes.

To prevent this, George hypnotizes Mr. Krupp with a 3D Hypno Ring he received out of a cereal box. The boys see that Mr. Krupp bears an odd resemblance to Captain Underpants without his toupee and command him to be Captain Underpants. The boys soon learn the severity of their actions when "Captain Underpants" begins causing problems around Piqua. To prevent these issues, the boys take him to their treehouse, where they discover that they can turn Captain Underpants back into Mr. Krupp by splashing water on him and can turn him back into Captain Underpants by snapping their fingers. Knowing that Mr. Krupp will continue trying to separate them, they decide to settle with Captain Underpants but insist that he be dressed up as Mr. Krupp under the pretense of a "secret identity," to which Captain Underpants agrees. His sudden personality change even manages to attract the attention (and affection) of the school's shy lunch lady, Edith (Kristen Schaal).

Just when George and Harold believe that their troubles have ended, Jerome Horwitz Elementary School is visited by an odd, German-accented scientist named Professor Pee-Pee Diarrheastein Poopypants, Esq. (Nick Kroll), or as he calls himself, Professor P. Captain Underpants (disguised as Mr. Krupp) hires him to be the new science teacher, but George and Harold are suspicious of him due to his violent and short-tempered attitude, as well as his resume's content. As it turns out, Poopypants is seeking to get rid of laughter altogether due to the fact that people have made fun of his name for years. He recruits Melvin to help him, as he discovers (after reading a comic book George and Harold made featuring characters resembling them) that Melvin's brain makes him incapable of laughing or having fun.

After a school carnival accident caused by Captain Underpants, Mr. Krupp finally separates the boys. Professor Poopypants tries to take over the town with a giant version of the Turbo Toilet 2000, fueled by the school cafeteria's rotten leftovers left out by Edith and uses Melvin's brain to turn the children into glum, humorless zombies. Captain Underpants tries to stop the villain, but due to having no actual superpowers, is effortlessly defeated and thrown into the toilet. George and Harold are captured and nearly turned into zombies, but are able to escape after Professor Poopypants mentions the planet Uranus, causing the boys to laugh and damage the Turbo Toilet 2000's computer, restoring the children back to normal. Upon consuming the mutated leftovers, Captain Underpants acquires superpowers and, with George and Harold's help, defeats and shrinks Poopypants, though he escapes on a bumblebee shortly thereafter.

Knowing that they cannot control Captain Underpants, George and Harold destroy the Hypno Ring to permanently change him back into Mr. Krupp. Feeling that Mr. Krupp would be nicer if he had friends, the boys set him and lovesick Edith up on a date, thus making Mr. Krupp have a change of heart. Krupp returns the comics he took away from George and Harold, and even admits their comics are funny. However, the toxic waste from the Turbo Toilet 2000 transforms all the toilets into vicious monsters which attack the restaurant at which Mr. Krupp and Edith are dining. Upon snapping his fingers, Mr. Krupp once again becomes Captain Underpants, carrying George and Harold away to help him fight them, much to Edith's surprise and admiration.

In a mid-credits scene, George and Harold realize that the secretary, who they put on hold before by faking a contest with a cash prize of $1 billion, has been on the phone for the entire film, so they talk over the phone causing the secretary to drop the phone ending the call which makes the secretary angry, and they make a new comic based on her reaction.

Voice cast[edit | edit source]

  • Kevin Hart as George Beard, a fourth-grade student. He is Harold's best friend and writes stories for the comics he and Harold make.
  • Thomas Middleditch as Harold Hutchins, a fourth-grade student. He is George's best friend and illustrates the comics he and George make.
  • Ed Helms as Mr. Benjamin "Benny" Krupp / Captain Underpants, the mean-spirited principal of Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, who is hypnotized into becoming the superhero created by George and Harold, to stop him from separating them to different classrooms.
  • Nick Kroll as Professor Pee-Pee Diarrheastein Poopypants Esq., a scientist angered after being constantly made fun of and not taken seriously for his name, who decides to take over the world to get rid of all laughter and Captain Underpants' arch-nemesis.
  • Jordan Peele as Melvin Sneedly, George and Harold's arch-nemesis, a child prodigy inventor; he becomes Prof. Poopypants' unwitting sidekick.
  • Kristen Schaal as Edith, the shy school lunch lady and the love interest of Mr. Krupp.
  • Dee Dee Rescher as Ms. Tara Ribble, the 4th-grade teacher (and George's new teacher when Mr. Krupp separates the boys).
  • Brian Posehn as Mr. Rected, the guidance counselor (and Harold's new teacher when Mr. Krupp separates the boys).
  • Mel Rodriguez as Mr. Morty Fyde, the science teacher who gets fired by Krupp and is replaced by Professor Poopypants.
  • David Soren as Tommy, a boy who is seen frequently throughout the movie climbing into his own locker and shutting the locker door behind him.
  • Susan Fitzker as Mrs. Dayken, George and Harold's kindergarten teacher and unintentionally made them laugh by mentioning Uranus
  • Lynnanne Zager as Mrs. Beard
  • Tiffany Lauren Bennicke as Sad Girl
  • James Ryan as Mime
  • Leslie David Baker as Officer McPiggly
  • Sugar Lyn Beard as Goodie Two-Shoes Girl
  • Lesley Nicol as Nobel Moderator
  • Chris Miller as Nobel Audience Member
  • Coco Soren as Balloon Girl

ADR Group[edit | edit source]

Production[edit | edit source]

DreamWorks' interest in the film rights to the Captain Underpants series dates back to when the first installment was published in 1997, but creator Dav Pilkey did not want to sell them. Early pitches for an adaptation included video games, animated and live-action films, an animated series, and a live-action series. To persuade him, DreamWorks gave Pilkey a tour around the studio with everyone wearing underpants over their actual pants, which made him laugh. In October 2011, his representatives indicated Pilkey was ready, and DreamWorks Animation won the rights in an auction. In October 2013, Rob Letterman was announced as director and Nicholas Stoller as scriptwriter. The two had previously worked together on the film Gulliver's Travels. In January 2014, the cast was announced. Ed Helms joined as Mr. Krupp a.k.a. Captain Underpants, Kevin Hart as George Beard, Thomas Middleditch as Harold Hutchins, Nick Kroll as the "insidious villain" Professor Poopypants, and Jordan Peele as George and Harold's "nerdy nemesis" Melvin Sneedly.

In 2014, DreamWorks Animation announced a January 2017 release date. Following DreamWorks Animation's reorganization in early 2015, the studio announced that the film would be produced outside of the studio's pipeline at a significantly lower cost. It was instead animated at Mikros Image in Montreal, Canada, and at Technicolor Animation Productions in France, and therefore looks identical to Pilkey's artwork, as well as differently than most of DWA's films. A month later, Letterman left the project but came back as an executive producer, and David Soren, the director of Turbo, entered talks to direct the film. During production, Pilkey got to work closely with Soren. He was relieved that Soren was directing since he was a fan of Turbo. In an interview with Los Angeles Times, Pilkey said: "Once I met David, it was like a huge load fell off my back; I was like, 'I don't even have to think about this anymore. Just send me a couple of tickets to the premiere.'" Commenting back, Soren said, "In a way, the controversy over the books ended up being liberating for the film. Normally on an animated movie you're trying to appeal to every possible demographic, and often that results in your content being watered down a little bit. Obviously we hope we get as wide of an audience as possible. But it's likely that if people have issues with the books they may have issues with the movie too, and we didn't feel like we needed to waste a lot of time trying to rope them in. It allowed us to make the purest version of the movie." Soren also said that he took inspiration from John Hughes films. In an interview with MovieFreak, he mentioned,

... we actually looked at a lot of John Hughes movies for inspiration, like Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Weird Science. John Hughes had this great knack for making comedies like this. Both of those movies have great friendships at the center of them. He seemed to be able to tap into the voice of a generation. They're very funny, all of his movies, but they are also poignant and they actually have meaningful things to say, which I think is why they have stood the test of time. So there's timelessness to his work that we were attempting to go for with this.

Although it is a CG-animated feature, the film includes scenes that are traditionally animated, flash animated, a short cutout animation segment, and a sock puppet sequence created by Screen Novelties.

Music[edit | edit source]

Main article: Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie/Soundtrack

Release[edit | edit source]

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie was previously scheduled to be released on March 10, 2017, but in September 2015, The Boss Baby took over its date. The film was then moved to June 2, 2017, and was released by 20th Century Fox. Other territories such as Europe and Asia received the film between July and October 2017 and the movie came on DVD and Blu-ray on September 12, 2017 and it premiered on May 21, 2017 at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles. The film was chosen along with The Emoji Movie to inaugurate the removal of Saudi Arabia's cinema ban through a double feature screening on January 13, 2018 organized by Cinema 70. Both are the first two movies to be given an official public screening in the country in 35 years.

Reception[edit | edit source]

Box office[edit | edit source]

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie grossed $73.9 million in the United States and Canada and $51.6 million in other territories, for a worldwide gross of $125.5 million, against a production budget of $38 million.

In North America, the film was released alongside Wonder Woman, and was projected to gross around $20 million from 3,434 theaters in its opening weekend. It made $8 million on its first day and $23.9 million in its opening weekend, finishing second at the box office, behind Wonder Woman ($103.3 million). The film grossed $12.2 million in its second weekend, $7.2 million in its third and $4.3 million in its fourth.

Critical response[edit | edit source]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 86% based on 117 reviews and an average rating of 6.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "With a tidy plot, clean animation, and humor that fits its source material snugly, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is entertainment that won't drive a wedge between family members." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 69 out of 100 based on 25 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.

Home media[edit | edit source]

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie was released on Digital HD on August 29, 2017, and on DVD, Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray on September 12, 2017, by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, and has been released by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment in certain territories. Following DreamWorks Animation's end of partnership with 20th Century Fox, this was the last DreamWorks Animation film to be re-released on home media by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Accolades[edit | edit source]

Award Category Recipient Result
Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Animated Movie Nominated

Television series[edit | edit source]

Main article: The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants

On December 12, 2017, Netflix and DreamWorks Animation Television announced that there would be an animated series entitled The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants. It premiered on the streaming service on July 13, 2018. and is executive produced by Peter Hastings.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. In 2018, the film's distribution rights were transferred to Universal Pictures via its acquisition of DreamWorks Animation.
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Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
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