Movie Review: Teen Titans Go! To The Movies

teen titans go to the movies posterTeen Titans Go! is bright, anarchic, silly and written for little kids. The film perfectly captures the spirit of the source material and simultaneously delivers some of the funniest of easter eggs and deep cuts into comics in recent memory.

Unfortunately, it also keeps the ADHD pacing of cartoon show, making for a disjointed and uneven film overall that ends with a somewhat letdown of a climax. Compared to its peers of The Incredibles 2 and both The Lego Movie / The Lego Batman Movie, this just doesn’t hold up. But, what it lacks in cohesiveness and theme, it more than makes up for with mountains and mountains of jokes.

It does, however, satirize our over-saturation of superhero movies, with specific barbs at competitors at Marvel, a hilarious Deadpool/Deathstroke discussion, and even at Warner Bros problems in bringing many of its heroes to screen. It’s basically Deadpool for children, with all its meta satire, with fart humor instead of sex jokes. But as the most salient part of all of this, our main plot revolves around Robin being upset that no one has made a movie about him yet.

And, of course, because every great hero or team needs an iconic villain, they try to recruit “Slade” (nee Deathstroke) to be their arch-nemesis. Will Arnett, who also produced this film, really relishes playing the villain here, almost as much as he did playing Batman in the Lego movies.

One of the fun and lesser recognized aspects of Teen Titans Go! is its use of music. The movie is also a musical, which is a fun for the most part. However, sometimes they are full-on cringeworthy, including a Titans theme song rap, which is hands down the worst part of the movie. To make it worse, they decide to repeat the entire thing during the film’s climax.  “The Night Begins To Shine,” this is not.

But they’re not all bad. At one point they sing a song called “Upbeat” and the lyrics (and on-screen action) specifically mimic 1980s pop tropes. Yes, a lot of the jokes in this movie will go over kids’ heads. And a lot of the jokes will be too juvenile for adults. Spoiler alert/Parental warning: upset at being cut off during his inspirational speech so they can cut to the credits, Robin tells kids to ask their parents where babies come from. Walking out of the theater, it was clear that many kids were asking their parents just that. Good joke.

However, if you’re a fan of the more mature Teen Titans show, make sure you stick around into the credits, as there is a tease you don’t want to miss.

So, is this film great or terrible. Allow me to pull a page out of Beast Boy’s and Cyborg’s playbook and “waffle” a little bit.

Many will dislike the childish approach to the material– in which case it appears the upcoming Titans live-action show may bring plenty of darkness and edge– but if you’d like to just laugh for 90 minutes in a dark air conditioned space with lots of children laughing around you, this is fun. If that sounds like torture invented by Brother Blood’s Pain-Bot, then stay away. But certainly, compared to the artistry of other recent animated movies about superheroes, this doesn’t quite measure up.

3.5 out of 5 stars

PS – an animated short from DC’s Superhero Girls precedes the film and is quite fun, too.