Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie

Movie review by
Betsy Bozdech, Common Sense Media
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Book-based adventure is fun ... if you like potty humor.
  • PG
  • 2017
  • 84 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 23 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 65 reviews

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Intended to entertain rather than educate, but there are lessons about friendship, creativity, and thinking about things from someone else's point of view.

Positive Messages

Amid the non-stop potty humor are messages about teamwork, the power of friendship and creativity, the importance of art and fun in education, why people need to be able to laugh at themselves (not just others), and the idea that everyone deserves empathy. You never really understand someone until you think about things from their perspective and see what their life is really like. On the other hand, characters are mocked based on their names (something that can't be helped) and occasionally their weight.

Positive Role Models & Representations

George and Harold are a great team -- they're creative collaborators who care about each other deeply and share a strong sense of humor/the absurd. They also have a serious lack of respect for authority, pulling pranks at school and harassing their short-tempered principal, Mr. Krupp, at every opportunity. While that's funny, it's not ideal behavior; luckily, they learn that there's more to Krupp than they realized, and they gradually develop empathy for him. The boys also make a key apology to the villain, saying it wasn't right for everyone to laugh at him because of his unfortunate name (Professor Poopypants). Captain Underpants himself is very positive and civic-minded, though he doesn't execute his plans particularly well and often gets in jams. Some stereotyping (Melvin is a textbook nerd/teacher's pet), but diversity among main characters.

Violence & Scariness

Some peril/action violence, but much of it is lightened by humor and animation style. An imaginary sequence featuring sock puppets includes laser weapons, smoke, and destruction. The villain travels with lots of weapons (axe, mace, dynamite, etc.) and ultimately attacks the school with a gigantic robotic monster -- but just when the climactic battle gets tense, it switches to flip-book animation style. A gun that can make things bigger and smaller wreaks havoc. Carnival rides go AWOL, a school is upended. Lots of slapstick: Captain Underpants jumps out of windows, nearly falls to his death, punches "bad guys" (a mime, in one case), etc.; a villain is hit by vehicles three times in quick succession. Krupp always seems to be angry and yells a lot. Tension when the boys sneak into Krupp's office. George and Harold are terrified by the idea of being put in separate classes. Kids are sad in their prison-like school. Joke about turning a flame thrower on kittens. George and Harold's pranks sometimes lead to chaos/damage.

Sexy Stuff

Krupp and Edith (a cafeteria worker) flirt and eventually go on a date. The boys talk about how the two adults "like like" each other.


Frequent use of potty words including "poop," "poopypants," "diarrhea," "butt," "fanny," and "fart" (the name of the planet Uranus is also played for laughs). Some insult language, including "weirdo," "idiotic," "suck up," "stupid," and "dumb." Tons of bodily function humor (burps, boogers, farting noises, all of the poop references, etc.).


Nothing in the movie (some background products resemble real-life ones but have had their names changed), but the movie is tied to a popular book franchise that has licensed merchandise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Kids run rampant when they eat pure sugar.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that as long as you don't have a problem with potty humor, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is a fun pick for elementary schoolers and up. But you really need to be OK with the potty humor, because it's constant. Based on the hugely popular book series by Dav Pilkey, the story follows two prank-loving best friends who hypnotize their angry principal into believing he's Captain Underpants, the hero of the boys' many comic books. In addition to all the jokes about poop, Uranus, and other bodily functions, there's some superhero/action violence -- particularly when the villain (Professor Poopypants) attacks the school. But many of the tense/perilous moments are lightened via humor (there's lots of slapstick) and animation choices (for instance, switching to a flip-book style at the height of a big battle). Some kids might be upset by the principal's constant yelling or his threat to separate the boys and end their friendship, but things generally stay pretty upbeat. Language includes frequent potty/body words, as well as insults like "weirdo," "stupid," and "suck up," and there's some stereotyping (particularly the nerdy character, Melvin). Two adults flirt with each other and go on a date. While the boys don't show much respect for authority, they do learn important lessons about what makes a friendship/team really strong and the importance of having empathy for others.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLflin June 11, 2017

Terrible message

This is not a movie I would normally choose to see, but we were invited for a birthday party. I hated this movie, but not because of the expected infantile hum... Continue reading
Adult Written byE U July 1, 2017

missed opportunity

My daughter really enjoys the books - seems there's a lot of story to draw from - but this movie blind-sided us with an odd and boring premise that takes u... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old June 6, 2017

LOVE IT! But isn't there a little copyright violation in this?

So for anyone who hasn't watched this yet, there is spoilers in this review, so be warned. This is about some kids that always get in trouble. Their princi... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byeric l c June 1, 2017

Tra La LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA for captain underpants!!!

Awesome 3D animated movie beats fantastic four (the worst marvel movie in 2005), super awesome for 4 year old kiddos and all seniors.

What's the story?

In CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE, Captain Underpants is the creation of best friends George (voiced by Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch). They've been inseparable since kindergarten, when they bonded over their shared amusement at the word "Uranus" during a science lesson. These days, in fourth grade, they giggle over the potty-centric comic books they create and the pranks they pull at school under the nose of their by-the-book principal, Mr. Krupp (Ed Helms). When Krupp finally ends up with proof of their hijinks and vows to end the boys' friendship, George does the only thing he can think of: He flashes his plastic hypno-ring at Krupp. Somehow, it works, and the boys tell Krupp he's now Captain Underpants ... so he promptly disrobes, makes himself a cape, and dashes off to fight crime. Since the Captain doesn't have the super powers to match his superhero mindset, he causes more problems than he fixes, but the boys can't risk turning him back into Krupp, especially when a villain by the name of Professor Poopypants (Nick Kroll) arrives on the scene. How can they save their school and their friendship?

Is it any good?

Based on the first book in Dav Pilkey's wildly popular series about a nearly naked superhero, this animated comedy about friendship (and farts) is guaranteed to amuse the young kids in your life. You'll likely even laugh several times yourself, thanks to a cleverer-than-expected script and moments when the main characters break the fourth wall and talk directly to viewers. But here's the thing: You have to be OK with potty humor to enjoy Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. If talk of poop (including diarrhea) or the sight of people (even animated ones) running around in their underwear makes you at all uncomfortable or offended, skip it. Because there's a lot of both of those things in this movie.

The good news is that there are also clear messages about the importance of friendship -- George and Harold realize that they don't have to be in the same class for their friendship to survive -- and empathy for others. The boys see Krupp in a new light as they learn more about his lonely life, and even though they can't help being amused by the professor's name, they acknowledge that it's wrong to laugh at someone for that reason alone. The voice actors are all well cast, and the movie's mix of animation styles keeps things lively and unexpected. Plus, it offers a nice argument in favor of arts, music, and creativity in kids' education. It's never hard to guess where the story is headed, but, all in all, you could do far worse for an afternoon/night out at the movies. As long as you don't mind poop jokes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the jokes in Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. Some parents find the potty humor really inappropriate. What do you think? When are certain kinds of jokes appropriate -- and when aren't they? Parents, talk to your kids about your own expectations for language at home and at school.

  • Which parts of the movie did you find scary? Why? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?

  • What does it mean to have empathy for another person? How do George and Harold learn empathy from their experiences with Krupp/Captain Underpants? Why is that an important character strength?

  • George and Harold also model good teamwork. How does that help them realize that their friendship can withstand any threat?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love humor

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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