I know of several people who were opposed to this movie, because all they saw was a grown man dressed only in his underwear pretending to be a superhero. If this is you, hold on just a second. There’s a whole lot more to the story than just that, and, yes, there is an explanation for the underwear.
“Tra-la-laa! DreamWorks Animation presents the year’s most hysterically heroic comedy, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie! George and Harold are fourth-grade BFFs who love dreaming up funny pranks. One day, they accidentally hypnotize their principal into believing he’s a dimwitted hero named Captain Underpants. But when the new schoolteacher turns out to be a disgraced scientist bent on ridding the world of laughter, George, Harold and Captain Underpants must band together to stop his evil agenda!” – Official Description
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is based on a series of children’s novels written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey. The first of Pilkey’s series, The Adventures of Captain Underpants, was published in 1997. There are now 12 books in the series and a number of spin-offs, activity books, and collector’s editions. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, as the name implies, is the first movie; however, the name does seem to also imply that a second one may be in the works. Though the story is slightly different, the movie uses characters and several plotlines from the series.
The movie begins with the introduction of George Beard (Kevin Hart) and Harold Hutchins (Thomas Middleditch – also known as “the guy from the Verizon commercials”). George and Harold are best friends, neighbors, and notorious pranksters. Despite the movie being named after Captain Underpants, the story is really about these two. Captain Underpants is just one of many characters they’ve created for their hand-written and hand-drawn comic books. To provide narration and context, George and Harold often speak directly to the audience. This approach works well for the movie and leads to some humorous asides. In a way, the movie is presented as though George and Harold are the directors and the audience is getting to see their director’s cut.
While most of the school appreciates the pranks of George and Harold, not everyone is a fan. Their classmate Melvin Sneedly (Jordan Peele) has no sense of humor and lives to earn extra credit in his classes. Though Melvin annoys the pranksters, their greatest enemy is their principal, Benjamin Krupp (Ed Helms). The principal has confiscated most of their comics and is always looking for a reason to punish George and Harold.
It’s not just the two leads that Principal Krupp dislikes; he dislikes children in general. The movie makes several references to the idea that the students are prisoners and Krupp is the warden. In an early scene in the movie, Krupp requires the students to attend an all-day science fair-like event on a Saturday. George and Harold see Melvin’s presentation as the perfect time to pull off their biggest prank yet. Though their fellow classmates are thrilled with the results, Krupp is even happier. Why? Because he finally manages to catch George and Harold mid-prank.
The first act ends in Krupp’s office with the cruel principal gleefully announcing that he will move George and Harold into separate classes and end their friendship forever. This is the worst punishment possible for the boys (they’d still be neighbors, but it wouldn’t be the same). In a last-ditch effort to prevent this, they attempt to hypnotize Krupp, and they’re shocked when it actually works. After trying several ideas, George and Harold convince Krupp that he is actually . . . Captain Underpants!
A lot of the movie’s humor comes in its first act during the introduction of George and Harold. Seeing the world through their eyes sets up many quick jokes that work well in this movie. In the second act, the humor is centered more around Captain Underpants and the struggles new sidekicks George and Harold go through to protect both their principal and themselves.
They quickly learn that Captain Underpants only exists when Krupp is in a hypnotized state. The hypnosis ends if Captain Underpants touches water in any way, but Captain Underpants returns if someone snaps their fingers. George and Harold have power now. If Krupp threatens them with any kind of punishment, they can snap their fingers and Captain Underpants will appear. When their comic book hero is around, they convince him to adopt “Principal Krupp” as his secret identity.
Captain Underpants is a terrible superhero. He means well, but he has no special powers and no clue how to help people. When an old lady tells him that her cat is stuck in a tree, he responds by throwing her into the tree with her cat. The day is saved (or so he thinks)! While in his Krupp “disguise” he hires a new teacher for the school, the mysterious Professor P. (Nick Kroll). George and Harold are both suspicious of the new hire, but the naïve Captain Underpants never once questions Professor P., his words, or the weird items in his bag.
Professor P., we later discover, is actually the villainous Professor Poopypants. After years of laughter and disrespect from kids and adults alike due to his name, he is on a mission to rid the world of laughter. One of the movie’s funniest scenes is when George and Harold discover Professor P.’s full name.
In the final, action-packed act, Professor P. finds an ally at the school and sets his plan into motion. Can Professor P. eliminate laughter? Will Captain Underpants save the day? Will George and Harold ever end Krupp’s hypnosis? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out the answers.
The story is completely unrealistic (obviously), but it’s very entertaining and funny. This movie is certainly geared towards younger audiences, but adults should enjoy it as well. The humor and gags are quick, and the story moves at a rapid pace. No scenes feel too long or out of place. The bold colors used in the movie are a nice choice and contrast well with the look of the comics drawn by George and Harold. Additionally, the casting is excellent. Jordan Peele as the stereotypical nerdy suck-up? Perfect! Middleditch, Hart, and Kroll are also well cast, as is Kristen Schaal as lunch lady Edith.
If you haven’t seen Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie yet, you really should. This is one of the rare cases where I will argue that you don’t necessarily need to read the books first to really appreciate the movie. It’s just a fun, entertaining movie with a unique take on the typical “superhero” story.
This release comes with three versions of the movie. Disc 1 features the movie only (no extras) in 4K Ultra HD with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and an immersive audio track. This will be the sharpest, clearest, and most colorful version of the movie; however, you will need an Ultra HD player and a 4K Ultra HD television to view this version. Disc 2 features the movie in standard Blu-ray and includes all extras. This version should play with all Blu-ray players. Also included in this release is the code for the Digital HD version.
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie comes with over 30 minutes of extras including deleted scenes, music videos, promotional materials, and behind-the-scenes features.
• The Really Cool Adventures of Captain Underpants Motion Comic (2:52) – Sock puppets of Harold and George read a comic book in which Captain Underpants fights the Inedible Hunk
• The Captain Underpants Guide to Being a Hero (3:51) – Harold and George explain the rules you must follow to become a superhero
• The Professor Poppypants (Totally Original and Supercool) Guide to Being a Villain (3:53) – Professor Poopypants explains how to become a villain
• Missing Underpants: The Deleted Scenes of Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (11:00) – Deleted scenes presented by the director, David Soren
• “Captain Underpants Theme Song” Lyric Video by ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic (2:15)
• “A Friend Like You” Lyric Video by Andy Grammer (3:45)
• Tighty-Whitey Q&A With The Stars – Part 1 (1:02) – Cast members Thomas Middleditch, Kevin Hart, and Ed Helms answer questions written on white underpants
• Tighty-Whitey Q&A With The Stars – Part 2 (1:02) – The questions for the cast members continue
• Kevin Hart and Ed Helms Surprise Fans (2:07) – Kevin Hart and Ed Helms visit children and talk about the movie
• Lunch Lady PSA With Kristen Schaal (1:02) – A commercial promoting kindness to lunch ladies
• Sock Puppets Real Stars (0:27) – The sock puppets return as stand-ins for their cartoon counterparts
• Theatrical Trailer (2:25)
• The World of DreamWorks Animation – This feature allows you to view extras from other DreamWorks movies including Shrek and Kung Fu Panda
• Sneak Peak – trailers for five other animated movies
• Gallery – Take a look at images from:
– Comic Book Covers
– The Art of DreamWorks Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
This is an impressive range of extras. The segment where Ed Helms and Kevin Hart surprise some fans is especially entertaining as several of the young fans tease Hart about his beard and comedy. Having the film’s director introduce the deleted scenes allows each scene to have context. It’s interesting to hear why these scenes, though funny, were ultimately cut from the final movie. The length of each extra also feels appropriate. They’ve done a nice job with the extras they’ve included here.
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (other than having the longest name to type again and again) is a fun, entertaining movie that puts a different twist on the usual “superhero” story. It’s a funny story that moves at a quick pace, and the vocal casting is outstanding. This release comes with a wide range of impressive extras. Even if you haven’t read the original book series, you should check out this movie.