Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
- Street Date:
- September 12th, 2017
- Reviewed by:
- Kyle Newton
- Review Date: 1
- September 28th, 2017
- Movie Release Year:
- 89 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Release Country
- United States
Portions of this review are also featured in our coverage of the Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, also written by Kyle Newton. The Vital Disc Stats, Video, Audio, and Final Thoughts sections are unique to each review.
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
As someone who grew up with great children’s entertainment such as The Lion King and Aladdin, I've become quite a curmudgeon towards modern children’s films. They are so squarely aimed at the children’s demographic without speaking to a wider audience. There was also a timeless nature to older entertainment that I feel is lacking in their modern-day equivalents, with their heavy emphasis on the latest pop songs. So, imagine my surprise when Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie becomes the rare instance in children’s entertainment which subverts my usual bias.
Based on a series of novels by author Dav Pilkey, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie stars Kevin Heart and Thomas Middleditch as George and Harold, two 4th grade friends who are inseparable but find their bland Ohio school boring and do anything they can to make it more interesting. Unfortunately, grownups just don’t understand these things, so the school staff foils their plans. George and Harold aren’t misguided in any way. They are just two mischievous kids looking to amuse themselves by causing small pranks around the school, making me think of my own high school experiences. George and Harold have the type of bond and comradery with each other that makes them instantly relatable despite their mischievous ways.
The two boys’ main target is their mean principal Benjamin Krupp (ED Helms). When he attempts to separate the two friends, in an act of desperation, George whips out his 3D Hypno Ring and hypnotizes Krupp and thus the superhero Captain Underpants is born. Not long after, when the boys and the Captain must stop the evil Professor Poopypants (Nick Kroll) from his quest to abolish laughter altogether. Ed Helms’s take on the character of Krupp/Captain Underpants is absolutely hilarious and endearing. There is an irreverent humor the character takes on that is truly infectious that had me yelling "Tra-la-laa!!" like the character himself. That same humor and infectiousness translate into the whole wacky, zany, self-referential word they have recreated here. In fact, this small animated film features some of the best acting from all its leads because of the way they play off of each other and the playful tone of the film.
Just beneath the humor in Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is a message about the importance of laughter and friendship that resonated with me. Laughter and friendship are things that can be understated in the competitive world today. This film’s constant energy charms its viewers to remember that it is ok to forget about everyday life and just laugh. Captain Underpants: First Epic Movie is infectious, and it will thaw even the most skeptical of hearts (like yours truly) to get lost in its silly, irreverent, hilarious world.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
DreamWorks brings Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie to Blu-ray with slipcover packaging featuring some pretty cool cover art that my 10-year-old self would love to hang as a poster in his room. Inside, its hardcover keepcase reveals a BD-50 Blue-ray, DVD, and Ultraviolet Digital HD copy of the film. Once played, we are given the usual option to skip all trailers entirely and go straight to the animated main menu that lets us navigate from there.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie soars onto Blu-ray with a 1080P MPEG-4 AVC encode that is just as charming as the film itself. Colors burst off the screen with vibrancy and depth the likes of which can only be matched by the best animated films the format has to offer. From the street where the boys live, to the school they attend, there is such brightness to the color palette that it matches the silly, charming world they live in. Depth is also spectacular, with clouds, rain, and everything in the background popping out from the foreground in ways that again match the tone of the film.
Framed at a 1:85.1 aspect ratio, detail work is also a bright spot here with every frame oozing with detail. From the smallest details like the ripples on Mr. Krupp’s shirt, to the biggest like Professor Poopypants’ deathbot machine, there is such imagination in the details onscreen that it builds the world alongside its zany characters. This transfer is a true feast for the eyes, but I feel like the more important accomplishment is how it helps to build this world they live in. After all, a sign of an excellent transfer is that it helps immerse us in its own vision.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie sounds SUP-erb on Blu-ray with a DTS-HD MA 7.1 track that doesn’t quite stand up to it Dolby Atmos counterpart found on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, but is still a tremendous track in and of itself. Fronts boast a great deal of depth and separation, whether it is two characters having a conversation or Captain Underpants plowing through another wall leaving behind an outline of himself. I always prefer the score in my surrounds as well as the fronts and that is exactly what we have here. This leaves the score feeling fuller, and more immersive
For an animated movie that is spoofing the superhero genre, it is actually light on action. But when it does kick in for its finale, the field of sound opens up to give us an exciting final climax full of killer deathbot machines, a whole lot of zapping, and all kinds of fun and inventive noises that are well represented here. All in all, this is a very strong audio track that, though it doesn’t reach the heights of its Dolby Atmos counterpart, it does compete with the best 7.1 tracks available in the genre.
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
The Really Cool Adventures of Captain Underpants Motion Comic (HD 2:52) – A hilarious short feature where the two leads read a raunchy comic book.
The Captain Underpants Guide to Being a Super Hero (HD 3:51) – Ever wonder if you have the chops to be a TRUE superhero? Well, Harold and George are here to school you on all the prerequisites.
The Professor Poopypants (Totally Original and Supercool) Guide to Being a Super Villain (HD 3:53) – Not everyone has aspirations of doing good deeds around the world. Some people just want destruction. If that falls under your line of work, Professor Poopypants is here to teach you the 4-1-1 on villainy.
Missing Underpants: The Deleted Scenes for Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (HD 11:00) – A collection of unfinished animation that didn’t make it into the final cut.
Captain Underpants Lyric Video By “Weird Al” Yankovic (HD 2:15) – A music video performed by the artist that is “Weird” because only half the lyrics appear on screen.
“A Friend Like You” Lyric Video Andy Grammar (HD 3:45) – Another addictive video of a song that won’t leave my head for days.
Tighty-Whitey Q&A with The Stars – Part 1 (HD 1:02) – A pointless Q&A with the stars of the film that is too short to be meaningful.
Tighty-Whitey Q&A with The Stars – Part 2 (HD 1:02) – An equally pointless Q&A that reveals nothing about the film itself.
Kevin Heart and Ed Helms Surprise Fans (HD 2:07) – A small short with clips of the film intercut with Heart and Helms introducing the clips with fans of the book.
Lunch Lady PSA with Kristen Schaal (HD 1:02) – Do you know the most underpaid profession that’s out there today? Apparently, it’s lunch ladies. As unbelievable as that is, the actress is here to talk to us about it.
Sock Puppets Real Stars – (HD 0:27) – A continuation of the sock puppet scene in the film featuring the two leads.
Theatrical Trailer (HD 2:25)
It takes a lot for an animated film to warm my cold heart. You can almost say that, for me, they are the hardest movies to review. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie charmed me with its zany, self-referential tone that opens with the first scene and follows all the way to Weird Al singing the end credits. But beyond all that, I actually found myself invested in its characters and their arches. The importance of friendship and laughter, and the fear of losing those things, is a sweet message I related to even in my 30s.
The Blu-ray itself is of great quality, and anyone marginally interested in this release won’t be disappointed with its presentation. Just know the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray offers better colors, contrast, and surround immersion. Still, for those not planning to upgrade to 4K, this disc comes Recommended.
- Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy
- 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC
- English DTS-HD MA 7.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
- English SDH, French, Spanish, Indonesian, Malay, Thai, Vietnamese
- Deleted Scenes
- Lyric Videos
- Tighty-Whitey Q&A with the Stars - Part 1 and Part 2
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