The First Epic Movie
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||David Soren|
|Screenplay by||Nicholas Stoller|
|Based on||Captain Underpants|
by Dav Pilkey
|Music by||Theodore Shapiro|
|Edited by||Matthew Landon|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$125.4 million|
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is a 2017 American CGI-animated superhero 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, Thomas Middleditch and Nick Kroll. The plot follows two imaginative elementary school pranksters named George Beard and Harold Hutchins who hypnotize their cold-hearted principal, Mr. Krupp, into thinking he is Captain Underpants, a superhero who fights crime while wearing only underwear and a cape, thinking he has superpowers.
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. The film received generally positive reviews, with critics praising the animation, goofy yet charming 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 computer-animated feature. A Netflix television series, The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants was released on July 13, 2018.
This was the last DreamWorks Animation film to be distributed by 20th Century Fox, as the rights to the entire DreamWorks Animation library, including this film, are now owned by Universal Pictures, following NBCUniversal's purchase of the company in 2016.
In Piqua, Ohio, George Beard and Harold Hutchins are two fourth-grade friends and next-door neighbors who often bring joy to their school, Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, by excessively pranking the cruel school staff. The duo also creates comic books about a superhero named Captain Underpants, a character who has superpowers yet merely wears underwear and a cape. They sell these to their schoolmates through a comic company called Treehouse Comix Inc., located in their treehouse. George and Harold's pranks come to an end when they are caught tampering with a toilet invention, the Turbo Toilet 2000, made by the school's local snitch, the intellectual Melvin Sneedly. This gives their mean-spirited principal Mr. Benjamin "Benny" Krupp a chance to put the boys in separate classes and annihilate their friendship.
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 a resemblance to Captain Underpants without his toupee and command him to be so. The boys soon learn the severity of this when Captain Underpants begins causing trouble around Piqua and thus take him to their treehouse. There, they 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. Realizing that Mr. Krupp will continue trying to separate them, they decide to settle with Captain Underpants yet 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.
Just when George and Harold believe that their troubles have ended, Jerome Horwitz Elementary School is visited by an odd and German-accented scientist named Professor Peepee Diareashtein Poopypants esq., whom Captain Underpants (still disguised as Mr. Krupp) hires to be the new science teacher, but George and Harold are suspicious due to his short-tempered and violent behavior. As it turns out, Poopypants is seeking to get rid of laughter altogether due to the fact that people never took him seriously for years due to his name.
With Captain Underpants as principal, the school is a more lively place with a funfair being set up in the yard. However, a rainstorm occurs and Captain Underpants turns back into Mr. Krupp, who finally finishes the paperwork to put George and Harold into separate classes. Meanwhile, Professor Poopypants recruits Melvin into his plan, as he has no sense of humor and doesn't find his name funny. Soon, Professor Poopypants tries to take over the town with a giant version of Melvin's Turbo Toilet 2000, fueled by the school cafeteria's toxic leftovers left out by Edith, and uses Melvin's brain as the power source to a zombie-ray to turn the children into glum, humorless zombies. Captain Underpants tries to stop the two, but due to having no actual superpowers, is effortlessly defeated and thrown into the toxic pool. George and Harold are captured and turned into zombies, but are able to escape when their laughter from the joke that made them friends in kindergarten overloads the zombie-ray, which damages the Turbo Toilet 2000's computer and returns the kids to normal. Upon consuming the toxic leftovers, Captain Underpants acquires superpowers and, with George and Harold's help, defeats and shrinks Poopypants, who escapes on a bee shortly thereafter.
Knowing that they can't control Captain Underpants forever, George and Harold destroy the Hypno Ring in order to permanently change him back into Mr. Krupp. Feeling that Mr. Krupp would be a lot 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, while even admitting their comics to be funny. However, the toxic waste from the Turbo Toilet 2000 transforms all the toilets at a scrap yard into an army of Talking Toilets, which attack the restaurant where Mr. Krupp and Edith are dining. Upon snapping his fingers accidentally, Mr. Krupp once again becomes Captain Underpants, carrying George and Harold away to help him fight them to Edith's surprise and admiration.
In a mid-credits scene, George and Harold realize that Mr. Krupp's secretary Miss Anthrope, whom they put on the phone via a false competition for $1 billion, has been on the phone for the entire film, prompting them to shut off the call, which gets her angry and make a new comic book based on her reaction.
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. 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 original drawing style, 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.
"Weird Al" Yankovic wrote and performed the theme song for the film, which was featured in a lyric video. Andy Grammer wrote another original song for the film, titled "A Friend Like You". The film also features music from Adam Lambert, Cold War Kids member Nathan Willett, and Lil Yachty. An 11-track soundtrack album was released digitally on June 2, 2017, by Virgin Records and Deep Well Records.
|1.||"Captain Underpants Theme Song"||"Weird Al" Yankovic[a]||2:14|
|2.||"A Friend Like You"||Andy Grammer||3:40|
|3.||"Saturday (cast version)"||Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch||0:48|
|5.||"1812 Ofarture"||The Students of Jerome Horwitz Elementary School||1:08|
|6.||"Hallelujah"||Kevin Hart, Thomas Middleditch, Ed Helms||0:39|
|7.||"Oh Yeah"||Lil Yachty[b]||2:51|
|9.||"Comic Book Opening"||Theodore Shapiro||1:54|
|10.||"Saving the Day"||Theodore Shapiro||7:22|
|11.||"The Prank for Good"||Theodore Shapiro||5:38|
The film score was composed by Theodore Shapiro. 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").
All tracks are written by Theodore Shapiro.
|1.||"Comic Book Opening"||1:54|
|3.||"Bromance Origin Story"||1:58|
|4.||"Annihilate the Friendship"||2:13|
|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|
|16.||"Art Class Liberation"||1:57|
|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|
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.
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.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 87% based on 128 reviews and an average rating of 6.89/10. 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.
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 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.'"
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.
|Annie Award||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||Best Animated Film||Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie|
|Best Animated Film||Nominated|
|Golden Tomato Awards 2017||Best Animated Film||5th Place|
|Hollywood Music in Media Awards 2017||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||Best Original Score - Animated Film||Won|
|IGN Awards||Best Animated Movie||Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie||Nominated|
|Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Animated Film||Nominated|
|Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society||Best Animated Film||Nominated|
|St. Louis Film Critics Association||Best Animated Feature||David Soren|
|16th Visual Effects Society Awards||Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature||David Soren, Mark Swift, Mireille Soria, David Dulac|
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. It premiered on the streaming service on July 13, 2018 and is executive-produced by Peter Hastings.
"Trolls," set for a 2016 release, will be the first film to be made with the $120 million budget.