Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
Film poster showing Captain Underpants, standing on top of a building. Behind him is a moon showing a silhouette of a pair of underwear.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDavid Soren
Screenplay byNicholas Stoller
Based onCaptain Underpants
by Dav Pilkey
Produced by
Starring
Edited byMatthew Landon
Music byTheodore Shapiro
Production
company
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release dates
Running time
88 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States[3]
LanguageEnglish
Budget$38 million[4]
Box office$125.4 million[5]

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is a 2017 American computer-animated superhero comedy film based on Dav Pilkey's children's novel series Captain Underpants, produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It was directed by David Soren from a screenplay by Nicholas Stoller, and stars the voices of Kevin Hart, Ed Helms, Thomas Middleditch, Jordan Peele, Kristen Schaal and Nick Kroll. The film marked the 20th anniversary of the Captain Underpants series. In the film, fourth-grade pranksters George and Harold hypnotize their humorless principal into thinking he's an undies-adorned superhero. The movie loosely adapts the first, second, fourth, and eleventh Captain Underpants books.

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie premiered on May 21, 2017, at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles, and was released in the United States on June 2, in 3D and 2D formats. The film received generally positive reviews, with critics praising the animation, humor, faithfulness to its source material, and voice acting, particularly from Helms. It grossed $125 million worldwide against a budget of $38 million, the lowest budget for a DreamWorks Animation feature film until Spirit Untamed was released in 2021 at a budget of $30 million.[6] A Netflix television series, The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants was released on July 13, 2018, having aired 4 seasons with 45 episodes and 3 specials. A spin-off film based on another one of Pilkey’s creations, Dog Man, was announced to be in development in 2020.[7]

Plot

In Piqua, Ohio, best friends George Beard and Harold Hutchins are fourth-graders at joyless Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, where their excessive pranks put them at odds with their cruel principal, Mr. Krupp. The boys create comic books about a superhero named "Captain Underpants". One day, George and Harold are being caught on camera tampering with tattletale classmate Melvin Sneedly's invention, the Turbo Toilet 2000. Mr. Krupp prepares to put George and Harold in separate classes, hoping to end their friendship.

George hypnotizes Mr. Krupp with a "3-D Hypno-Ring" from a cereal box and commands him to become Captain Underpants, leading him to cause trouble around town as the underwear-clad do-gooder. Taking him to their treehouse, the boys discover that they can turn Captain Underpants back into Mr. Krupp by splashing water on him, and back into Captain Underpants by snapping their fingers. To keep Mr. Krupp from separating them, they convince Captain Underpants that Mr. Krupp is his "secret identity", and his change in personality attracts the affections of the school's shy lunch lady, Edith.

Evil scientist Professor Pee-Pee Diarrheastein Poopypants, Esq. is hired as the school's new science teacher, though George and Harold are suspicious of his short-tempered and violent behavior. It is revealed that Poopypants, who invented a Nobel Prize-winning "sizerator" capable of shrinking and enlarging things, is sick of never being taken seriously due to his name, and seeks to get rid of all laughter. With Captain Underpants as principal, the school becomes a livelier place, but a rainstorm turns Captain Underpants back into Mr. Krupp, who officially places George and Harold in separate classes.

Poopypants recruits Melvin to his plan and attacks the school with a giant version of Melvin's Turbo Toilet 2000, fueled by Edith's toxic leftovers and using Melvin's brain to power a ray that turns the students into dull, humorless zombies. Captain Underpants tries to stop them but, having no superpowers, is thrown into the toxic waste. George and Harold are captured, but the power of a joke that made them friends in kindergarten overloads the Turbo Toilet 2000, returning the kids to normal and getting Melvin trapped in a giant toilet paper. The toxic leftovers give Captain Underpants real superpowers and, with George and Harold's help, he defeats and shrinks Poopypants, who escapes on a bee.

Unable to control Captain Underpants forever, George and Harold destroy the Hypno Ring to permanently change him back into Mr. Krupp, but swear to remain friends forever. Realizing that Mr. Krupp would be nicer if he had friends, the boys set him and Edith up on a date, making Mr. Krupp have a change of heart and return the comics he confiscated from George and Harold. However, the toxic waste from the Turbo Toilet 2000 transforms the toilets at a scrap yard into an army of Talking Toilets, which attack the restaurant where Mr. Krupp and Edith are dining. Unwittingly snapping his fingers, Mr. Krupp is again transformed into Captain Underpants, to Edith's surprise and admiration, and flies away with George and Harold to face their next adventure.

In a mid-credits scene, Miss Anthrope accidentally disconnects the call she has been on hold for during the entire scenario and erupts in anger.

Voice cast

This section may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may interest only a particular audience. Specifically, we do not need to list every single character that speaks in the movie. Please help by removing excessive detail that may be against Wikipedia's inclusion policy. (April 2023) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The main cast of the film played by Ed Helms, (Mr. Krupp/Captain Underpants) Kevin Hart (George Beard), Nick Kroll (Professor Poopypants), and Thomas Middleditch (Harold).

Production

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 trousers, which made him laugh.[10] In October 2011, his representatives indicated Pilkey was ready, and DreamWorks Animation won the rights in an auction.[11] In October 2013, Rob Letterman was announced as director and Nicholas Stoller as scriptwriter.[12] 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.[8]

Director David Soren screened the film at the 2017 Annecy International Animation Film Festival.[13]

In 2014, DreamWorks Animation announced a January 2017 release date.[14] 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.[15] It was instead animated at Mikros Image in Montreal, Canada, and at Technicolor Animation Productions in France, and therefore looks identical to Pilkey's original drawing style, as well as differently than most of DWA's films.[16] 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.[17]

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.'"[10] 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."[10] 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.[18]

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

Soundtrack

"Weird Al" Yankovic wrote and performed the theme song for the film (which is possibly because in the book, George and Harold "play "Weird Al" Yankovic music 6 hours full blast"), which was featured in a lyric video. Andy Grammer wrote another original song for the film, titled "A Friend Like You".[19] The film also features music from Adam Lambert, Cold War Kids member Nathan Willett, and Lil Yachty.[19] An 11-track soundtrack album was released digitally on June 2, 2017, by Virgin Records and Deep Well Records.[20]

Track listing

No.TitleArtistLength
1."Captain Underpants Theme Song""Weird Al" Yankovic[a]2:14
2."A Friend Like You"Andy Grammer3:40
3."Saturday (cast version)"Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch0:48
4."Think"Adam Lambert2:59
5."1812 Ofarture"The Students of Jerome Horwitz Elementary School1:08
6."Hallelujah"Kevin Hart, Thomas Middleditch, Ed Helms0:39
7."Oh Yeah"Lil Yachty[b]2:51
8."Saturday"Nathan Willett3:29
9."Comic Book Opening"Theodore Shapiro1:54
10."Saving the Day"Theodore Shapiro7:22
11."The Prank for Good"Theodore Shapiro5:38
Total length:32:42
  1. ^ featuring audio footage by Ed Helms
  2. ^ Samples the Yello song of the same name

Score

The film score was composed by Theodore Shapiro.[19] A soundtrack for the score of the film was released on June 9. It features 24 pieces of music, and an exclusive digital booklet on iTunes. Three of the scores are also available on the soundtrack (those being "Comic Book Opening", "Saving the Day", and "The Prank for Good").

Release

Theatrical

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie was previously scheduled to be released on March 10, 2017,[17] but in September 2015, The Boss Baby took over its date.[21] The film was then moved to June 2, 2017, and was released by 20th Century Fox.[22][23] Other territories such as Europe and Asia received the film between July and October 2017. It premiered on May 21, 2017, at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles.[24] The film was chosen along with Sony Pictures Animation's 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; they were the first two movies to be given an official public screening in the country in 35 years.[25]

Home media

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,[26] and has been released by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment in certain territories. From January 2018 to July 2019, the film was available on Netflix, the film returned to the streaming platform after 4 years on July 10, 2023.

Reception

Box office

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.[5]

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.[27] 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).[28][29] The film grossed $12.2 million in its second weekend, $7.2 million in its third and $4.3 million in its fourth.[30]

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 87% based on 136 reviews and an average rating of 7/10. 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."[31] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 70 out of 100 based on 25 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[32] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[28]

Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com gave the film three-and-a-half out of four stars. Although Seitz pointed out that the film is hampered by "a rushed, jumbled quality" and has "tiresome" features that he says are common to DreamWorks, such as "frenetic action scenes ... and the use of workhorse pop songs", he emphasized that "[t]hey've approached this compendium of elemental slapstick and unabashed childishness with the reverence that the Coen brothers brought to No Country for Old Men." He further added that the inclusion of the flipbook interludes are the film's best parts, especially in having the pages accidentally be torn similar to the real books, stating that "[i]t's not often that a movie puts a spotlight on a mundane ritual in your own life that you never realized was profound and says, 'You probably forgot about this, but I want you to remember it and savor it because it meant something.'"[33]

Accolades

Award Category Recipient(s) Result
Annie Award[34] Best Animated Feature Mireille Soria and Mark Swift Nominated
Music in an Animated Feature Production Theodore Shapiro
Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production Nick Kroll
Detroit Film Critics Society[35] Best Animated Film Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
Empire Awards[36]
[37]
Best Animated Film Nominated
Golden Tomato Awards 2017[38] Best Animated Film 5th Place
Hollywood Music in Media Awards 2017[39] Best Original Song - Animated Film "Captain Underpants Theme Song" for "Weird Al" Yankovic Nominated
Best Original Score - Animated Film Theodore Shapiro
International Film Music Critics Association[40][41] Best Original Score - Animated Film Won
IGN Awards[42] Best Animated Movie Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Nominated
Kids' Choice Awards[43] Favorite Animated Film Nominated
Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society[44][45] Best Animated Film Nominated
St. Louis Film Critics Association[46] Best Animated Feature David Soren
16th Visual Effects Society Awards[47] Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature David Soren, Mark Swift, Mireille Soria, David Dulac

Follow-ups

Television series

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 to follow-up the film, entitled The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants.[48][49] It premiered on the streaming service on July 13, 2018,[50] and is executive-produced by Peter Hastings.

Spin-off film

On December 9, 2020, DreamWorks Animation announced that a feature film adaptation of Dog Man (another one of George and Harold's comic creations) is currently in the works by director Peter Hastings, the showrunner for The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants.[51]

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Further reading