Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie

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Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
Film poster showing a bald man in his underwear with a cape on his neck, standing on top of a building. A moon showing a silhouette of an underwear.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by David Soren
Produced by
Screenplay by Nicholas Stoller
Based on Captain Underpants
by Dav Pilkey
Music by Theodore Shapiro
Edited by Matthew Landon
Distributed by 20th Century Fox[1]1
Release date
Running time
89 minutes[2]
Country United States[3]
Language English
Budget $38 million[4]
Box office $125.5 million[5]

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is a 2017 American computer-animated superhero toilet comedy film based on Dav Pilkey's children's novel series of the same name, 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, 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.[6] 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.


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, Benjamin 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 put them in separate classes, 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 résumé'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 puts the boys in separate classes. 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]


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.[9] In October 2011, his representatives indicated Pilkey was ready, and DreamWorks Animation won the rights in an auction.[10] In October 2013, Rob Letterman was announced as director and Nicholas Stoller as scriptwriter.[11] 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.[7]

In 2014, DreamWorks Animation announced a January 2017 release date.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14] 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.[15] 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.'"[9] 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."[9] 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.[16]

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.



"Weird Al" Yankovic wrote and performed the theme song for the film, which was featured in a lyric video. It currently stands at over 11 million views (as of May 2018).[17] Andy Grammer wrote another original song for the film, titled "A Friend Like You".[18] The film also features music from Adam Lambert, Cold War Kids member Nathan Willett, and Lil Yachty.[18] An 11-track soundtrack album was released digitally on June 2, 2017, by Virgin Records and Deep Well Records.[19]

Track listing[edit]

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[Note 1]"Lil Yachty2:51
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


The film score was composed by Theodore Shapiro.[18] 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").

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Theodore Shapiro.

1."Comic Book Opening"1:54
3."Bromance Origin Story"1:58
4."Annihilate the Friendship"2:13
5."Tuna Casserole"0:59
7."Power of the Hypno Ring"1:57
8."A Hero is Born"4:14
9."Mad Genius Inventor"0:53
10."Bringing Krupp Home"2:20
11."Two Blue Eyes"2:10
12."Brain of a Child"1:54
13."Hallelujah, His Name is Poopypants"1:37
14."The Nobel Prize"3:02
15."Anti-Humor Boy"1:49
16."Art Class Liberation"1:57
17."Carnival Conniptions"2:17
18."Separation Anxiety"1:32
19."Poopypants Has No Gas"1:36
20."A World Without Laughter"2:53
22."Really Silly Names"1:23
23."Saving the Day"7:22
24."The Prank for Good"5:38
Total length:55:42


Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie was previously scheduled to be released on March 10, 2017,[15] but in September 2015, The Boss Baby took over its date.[20] The film was then moved to June 2, 2017, and was released by 20th Century Fox.[21][22] 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.[23] 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.[24]


Box office[edit]

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.[25] 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).[26][27] The film grossed $12.2 million in its second weekend, $7.2 million in its third and $4.3 million in its fourth.[28]

In Norway, the movie went to number-one at its box office for a week and made $1,8 million in total in its run.[29]

Critical response[edit]

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."[30] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 69 out of 100 based on 25 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[31] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[26]

Matt Zoller Seitz of 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 flip book 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.'"[32]

Home media[edit]

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,[33] 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.


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]
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 for an 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

Television series[edit]

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] It premiered on the streaming service on July 13, 2018[49] and is executive-produced by Peter Hastings.


  1. ^ In 2018, the film's distribution rights were transferred to Universal Pictures via its acquisition of DreamWorks Animation.
  1. ^ featuring audio footage by Ed Helms


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]