TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES

I’m sure I’m not alone (although still in the minority) in that I’m sick of comic book films. There’s just too many of them each year and with some rare exceptions, they all feel pretty much exactly the same: superhero(es) need to defeat the bad guy(s) and save the world(s). It seems like everybody from A-tier characters like Batman to people nobody (i.e. non-comic book readers like me) cares about, like Captain Marvel or Ant-Man are getting their own movies. However, my biggest annoyance of all is how some people seem to view these as high art, or modern cinematic masterpieces. Don’t get me wrong, I think most of them are perfectly serviceable movies, but sometimes it’s fun to poke some holes as the balloon grows larger and larger. 

In Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, the titular superhero team led by boy wonder Robin (Scott Menville) sneak into the premiere of the new Batman movie (appropriately titled Batman Again), in order to meet filmmaker Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell) and convince her to make a big budget movie about them. Unfortunately, the Teen Titans are jokes (or “goofsters”, as Nicolas Cage’s Superman puts it) and nobody would take a movie about them seriously. Determined to get a movie made, Robin and company set out to gain an archnemesis and all of the other prerequisites in order to be considered legitimate superheroes.

My experience with Teen Titans is incredibly limited. I watched probably four episodes of the original show when I was 12, and have never read the comics, nor watched the Teen Titans Go! show that this film is based off. All I have is a vague interest in some DC comics characters and an annoyance with the current superhero focused trend of Hollywood. It’s no surprise that Warner Bros. and DC are failing pretty hard with their current live action cinematic universe. When they release a goofy, lighthearted animated film, they’re able to take the source material 0% seriously and actually have fun. When I found out more about what the film was, it really drew me in. WB and DC clearly don’t mind poking fun at themselves as long as it’s a cartoon, with many jokes made at the expense at their dark and gritty attitude and overall lack of direction with absurd solo film ideas. I also loved the commentary on our society’s desire for a constant influx of comic book films. There are loads of jokes in the front, but even more in the background, with loads of amusing little details throughout. You can tell that the filmmakers were given free rein to do really whatever they wanted to do with the license.

It’s gag after gag from beginning to end, with a vast majority making me chuckle throughout and some making me laugh out loud. The humor doesn’t get too overbearing either, with a nice mix of satire, dark humor, low brow humor, and fun banter. Some of the jokes were surprisingly dark for a kid’s film, but completely welcome for me. I haven’t watched television cartoons in many years, so they still very much may be still like this, but a lot of it reminded me of the cartoons I watched when I was a kid. A lot of irreverent humor and a decent amount of heart that works for both kids and adults. That feel may have also come from the 2D animation, which gave it a somewhat retro aesthetic. While the animation looked kind of cheap overall, it was nice and colorful. It was also occasionally creative, with it changing to different styles, such as during dream sequences. As far as the story goes, it’s there and perfectly serviceable for a movie that basically serves as a vehicle to advertise its brand all while satirizing it. It’s only 88 minutes long, but even that felt a bit much by the end. While having never seen the show, I enjoyed all of the characters and their voice actors brought a lot of personality to them. It was also great to hear Will Arnett as the archnemesis Slade, although I couldn’t help but hear BoJack Horseman at times.

It’s really telling of the whole DC Extended Universe situation when a one-off animated films end up being far more entertaining than the live action ones. It’s not anything groundbreaking in terms of animation or storytelling, but it’s a refreshing little bit of entertainment that’s not afraid to make fun of an oversaturated genre that it’s taking part in. Who expected something like this to be better than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice or Justice League? Eh, not like those are very high bars to pass anyway. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is something I never thought I would go see, but alas, I went to the movies to see it. I’m kind of glad I did. 

7/10

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