"Teen Titans Go! To the Movies" - Review

"Teen Titans Go! To the Movies" - Review

Superhero movies are in a bit of a rut these days. Either they’re too slavishly devoted to continuity (Avengers: Infinity War), too dark and grim (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice) or in some cases, both (Justice League). There are outliers, of course — superhero films that can stand on their own without continuity baggage (Wonder Woman, Black Panther) or do just fine being gleefully profane and irreverent (the Deadpool movies). None of these movies are exclusively geared toward little kids, however, and so Teen Titans Go! To the Movies comes along. This is a feature length adaptation of the animated series Teen Titans Go!, which takes the irreverent fun of Deadpool without all the swear words.

After stopping a giant monster from destroying their town, the Teen Titans — a superhero group consisting of Robin (Scott Menville), Starfire (Hynden Walch), Cyborg (Khary Payton), Beast Boy (Greg Cipes) and Raven (Tara Strong) — are told by Superman (Nicolas Cage) that they are just too goofy and silly to be superheroes worthy of their own movie franchise. This hits Robin particularly hard, and the film then follows the Teen Titans attempts to get their own movie going. The film is essentially four episodes of the Teen Titans Go! animated series strung together with the thinnest of plots, which is really just an excuse for a machine gun rapid fire of one gag after another. Nothing is sacred in this movie, which not only gleefully pokes fun at the entire DC Universe, but also the Marvel universe. There are references to Deadpool and a cameo from Stan Lee. There are also references to other bits and pieces of Warner Brothers animation, such as when the Titans see the Warner tower and note that it’s where “the Animaniacs live.” Favorite joke: Batman and Superman stop fighting after they realize their mothers have the same name, but resume fighting when they realize their fathers have different names. There are also silly songs, such as Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life sung by the Titans and Michael Bolton!

About halfway through Teen Titans Go! To the Movies I had to wonder, just who was this movie for? I’m not entirely sure that the audience of 6-12 year olds will get a joke about Michael Bolton, or jokes about an obscure DC superhero group called Challengers of the Unknown. On the other hand, the kids in my screening HOWLED with laughter at extended joke runners about poop and diarrhea (and if I’m being honest, I laughed too) — so maybe it all balances out. The impression I got from the whole thing is that the people making the movie — co-writer and director Aaron Horvath and Peter Rida Michail and co-writer Michael Jelenic (all coming over from the series) and their army of artists — are mostly just trying to amuse themselves. The results are infectious, and I found myself having a blast through the whole thing.
Voice work is great across the board; the Titans themselves (who all come from the TV series) are the right amount of goofy and deadpan when you need them to be. Will Arnett turns in a fine performance as the villain Slade. Kristen Bell is hilarious as the movie director Jade Wilson, and Nicolas Cage finally gets to play Superman (he was set to play the character in Tim Burton’s aborted Superman Lives).

The film might be too much of a good thing however, and the rapid-fire jokes do start to become a bit much near the end — but I can’t fault it too much for this.

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is a blast from start to finish, and a great way to undercut the self-serious tone of most of the superhero movies these days. PLUS there’s a fun message about being yourself. The film also features a delightful short called The Late Batsby, which is based on the upcoming DC Superhero Girls TV series, debuting on Cartoon Network later this year. All in all, it’s a fun time at the movies and it’s only 85 minutes long.    

Three Stars out of four.