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Teen Titans Go To The Movies (2018)

Guest contributor Jeremy Harrison writes.
DC's animation output has, arguably, always been stronger than its live-action performances- and this is no different. Teen Titans Go To The Movies is probably going to be the best DC film in theaters during 2018 and yes, I know the Aquaman movie is coming out later this year. It’s just nice that it’s not a Batman animated film for once.

The thing Teen Titans Go does really well is self-criticism; as in the best episodes of the show are when they have to deal with the fact that Teen Titans are silly and addressing that issue. The only misstep was in the episode The Return of Slade where the creators tried to bang their new audience over the head with: "We’re a kids show and this isn’t meant for you!"

But …Let’s get serious, The Fourth Wall and Steak and Prime Ribs are good episodes that I recommend checking out, where the lesson in those episodes are “Yes, we’re silly and we’re okay with that and we’re going to keep being silly”.

This movie follows the same formula. The Titans are told that no one wants to make a movie of them because they aren’t real superheroes which is something Robin really wants. I have to be honest, I’ve always wanted a Robin movie- and I can’t be the only one.

But in this movie, Robin is told that he’s just a sidekick who doesn’t have an arch-nemesis and that all the real superheroes have recurring villains to fight.

Never mind the fact that in this universe: Alfred, The Batmobile, and even Batman’s utility belt are deemed worthy of their own movies, but Batman’s sidekick is not! Even though he's starred alongside Batman in two films, (technically three if you count Jason Gordon Levitt as Robin in The Dark Knight Rises). Heck, it was even mentioned in the show!

Enter Slade, played by the ever talented Will Arnett.

Alas, the show plays loose with continuity. Slade has appeared in the show in two seconds cameos and like most of the adult superheroes have never been given a voice. For the purposes of the movie, they meet him for the first time. Will Arnett -who also produced this bad-boy- brings his A-Game here, just like he did for Lego Batman and his current show on Netflix, BoJack Horseman.

Speaking of BoJack Horseman, Arnett brings that same sarcastic, "you’re stupid, I’m smart so why don’t you go home, I’m being an “A-hole" humor to Teen Titans- and it’s great.
There’s a definite upshift in the movie when he shows up.

Another reason for the upshift (at least for me) is because of all the references made in the movie.

For example, they start the movie out with flipping through comic pages just like a Marvel movie and the great Stan ‘The Man’ Lee makes a hilarious cameo appearance.

They take the time to do part of the movie in the animation style of Batman: The Animated Series. And to add to my delight, they continue to switch animation styles from time-to-time, like when Robin’s having a dream, they spoof  The Lion King in the Disney hand-drawn animation style. Or again for the song Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life by Michael Bolton, which had the kid behind me singing and dancing. If your target audience has that kind of reaction to an original song, then you must be doing something right.

Nicholas Cage finally gets to play Superman. His son, Kal-el Cage (named after Superman’s Kryptonian name) is also in the movie as Young Bruce Wayne. And my favorite obscure nod goes to Plastic Man becoming a dress to be a lady’s outfit, which is something that did happen in the comic. (Yeah, he’s a bit of a creep).

Speaking of obscure nods, they bring in “Challengers of the Unknown” which even I had to look up who they were. But most importantly, there are all the references that only nerds like me would get. The action was pretty solid, too.

The story, however, is a bit predictable, especially as I said, I’ve already seen this formula done three or four times in the show. This movie is around four times the length of the show and has the standard low-point, the "all is lost "moment and the "We’ve come back from utter defeat to stop the villain". But despite this, the gags do work.

Cyborg for examples is able to lure Superman away from his post with a very clever gag and when they made it, I could hear the woman next to me explain why she found that joke funny to her son. And that made me love the scene, ten times more.

Teen Titans Go To The Movies has dumb humor for the kids and nice humorous references for adults (especially comic book fans like myself) and they do it in such a way that it works for both audiences. Make no mistake though, this is mainly aimed at children.

FORMATSCinema [Out Now US, August 3 In The UK]
FROM Warner Bros.
1hr 33m 

IN A NUTSHELL: Teen Titans Go To The Movies is a super-fun time for kids and comic book nerds alike.