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 Scholastic Entertainment, with animation production provided by Mikros Image Montreal. It was directed by David Soren from a screenplay by Nicholas Stoller, and stars the voices of Kevin Hart, Ed Helms, Thomas Middleditch, Nick Kroll, Jordan Peele, and Kristen Schaal. The plot follows two imaginative elementary school pranksters named George Beard and Harold Hutchins (Hart and Middleditch) who hypnotize their mean-spirited principal, Mr. Krupp (Helms), into thinking he is Captain Underpants, a superhero who fights crime while wearing only underwear and a cape who George and Harold write comic books about.
The film 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 received generally positive reviews from critics and has grossed $123 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 distributed by 20th Century Fox, before Universal Pictures will take over distribution in 2019 with How to Train Your Dragon 3.
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 teachers, especially the mean Principal Benjamin"Benny"Krupp, which puts them at odds with him. The duo also create comic books about a superhero named Captain Underpants, a character who has superpowers and wears underwear and a cape. They sell these to their schoolmates through a comic company called Treehouse Comix Inc, housed in their treehouse. George and Harold's pranks come to an apparent end after they tamper with a toilet invention, the Turbo Toilet 2000, made by the school's local snitch, intellectual Melvin Sneedley. This causes Krupp to decide to separate the boys and annihilate their friendship.
To prevent this, George hypnotizes Krupp with a 3D Hypno Ring he received out of a cereal box. The boys see that Krupp bears a resemblance to Captain Underpants without his toupee and command him to be Captain Underpants. The boys soon learn the severity of their acts when Captain Underpants begins causing some problems around Piqua and take him to their treehouse. There they discover that they can turn Captain Underpants back into Krupp by splashing water on him and can turn him back into Captain Underpants by snapping their fingers. Believing that Krupp will continue with his plan to separate them, they decide to settle with Captain Underpants but insist that he be dressed up as 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, German-accented scientist named Professor Pippy P. Poopypants, or as he calls himself Professor P. Captain Underpants (disguised as Krupp) hires him to be a new teacher, but George and Harold are suspicious of him. 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 his brain is incapable of having fun.
After Krupp finally separates the boys from a school carnival accident by Captain Underpants, 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 when their laughter damages 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 shortly thereafter.
Knowing that they can't control Captain Underpants, George and Harold destroy the Hypno Ring to permanently change him back into Krupp. Feeling that Krupp would be nicer if he had friends, the boys set him and lovesick Edith up on a date, thus making Krupp have a change of heart, 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 (accidentally), 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 put her on the phone before by faking for a contest of $2 billion, has been on the phone for the entire film, so they shut off the call, make the secretary angry, and make a new comic based on her reaction.
- Kevin Hart as George Beard
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 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. 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.