"Teen Titans Go! To the Movies"
Release Date: July 27, 2018
Running Time: 92 minutes
Trust one of the funniest superhero spoofs on TV to keenly send up Hollywood’s obsession with superheroes movies. The animated Teen Titans Go! To the Movies operates under the assumption that a superhero is not truly a superhero unless they have been the subject of their own blockbuster. While we have yet to experience the joys of a Captain Comet film, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies drives home with fun and energy its somewhat obvious point that we living at a time when there is always a superhero adventure playing at a movie theater near you. Of course, this big-screen version of DC Entertainment’s Cartoon Network TV series possesses the self-awareness to realize it is adding to the current glut of superhero films, but that is fine because it spends all of its time poking fun at the glaring shortcomings of the DC Extended Universe’s much-mocked Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League as well as the non-DCEU entry Green Lantern. Yes, these films are all easy targets, but it is heartening to see DC continue to mock its creative failures at a time when it is desperate to fix a cinematic universe it rushed into existence. (Last year’s Lego Batman Movie took a similar approach to equally hysterical results.) Even the presence of a game Nicolas Cage as the voice of Superman is a reminder of his unsuccessful attempt to portray the Man of Steel in a franchise reboot that Tim Burton was to direct. As with the TV series, the Peter Rida Michail-Aaron Horvath-directed Teen Titans Go! To the Movies treats the most famous sidekick in comic-book history as remains something of a joke. Yes, it is Robin (voiced by Scott Menville)—the other half of the Dynamic Duo—who longs to be the subject of his own film. And he is happy to bring with him his Teen Titans teammates—Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), Cyborg (Khary Payton), Raven (Tara Strong) and Starfire (Hynden Walch)—with him to Hollywood. The problem is, the Teen Titans are so into themselves that they are more likely to break into a song-and-dance routine mid-fight than finish off a supervillain on a crime spree. Superheroes consider the Teen Titans as goof-offs. Supervillains don’t know who they are. The public does not care less about them. Even Jonah Hex—the subject of his awful 2010 critical and commercial disaster—laughs at the Teen Titans. In order to attract Hollywood’s attention, Robin comes up the brilliant idea of finding the Teen Titans an arch-nemesis. They settle on Deadpool. Sorry, make that Slade (Lego Batman himself, Will Arnett), whose attire and weaponry make him a dead ringer for Marvel’s wiseass. By battling Slade, the Teen Titans catch the eye of superhero franchise director Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell). But, as they say, beware of what you wish for. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies works for both fans and non-fans of the TV series because (1) we have all seen enough superhero film to appreciate the comic-book tropes it attempts to ridicule and (2) no one has yet to figure out a way to make Robin as cool as and as essential as Batman when it comes film and TV. Robin added nothing to the two Batman sequels directed by Joel Schumacher, and those films certainly did not enhance Robin’s reputation. Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises did not even bother to mention Robin by name. Heck, the promo for the upcoming live-action TV show Titans forces Robin to drop an F-bomb to order to make him seem like a badass rebelling against his surrogate father. For fans of the Teen Titans Go! TV series, though, this animated gem maintains its joyfully irreverent sense of humor, manic pace, and vibrant visuals. Not once, though, does it feel like a supersized episode of the TV series. The fast-moving script by co-director Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic blends an eventful crusade for validation with sharp-witted criticism of Hollywood’s lack of original thinking. They also weave in songs that are as infectiously as, say, The Lego Movie’s “Everything is Awesome.” Try getting “Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life,” featuring Michael Bolton, out of your head. The Teen Titans—as both a team and as individuals—are as lovable bunch of party-hardy, not-so-cool kids whose hearts are in the right place. They have the potential to do good but they are so easily distracted. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies may not convince you that Robin, all by his lonesome, is ready for his close-up. But with Robin in their ranks, the Teen Titans prove they are more than capable of owning their own against Lego Batman.
Aired: July 26, 2018