Review: ‘Teen Titans Go! to the Movies’ is Meta Fun

Pop fun can be the best kind of fun. It’s especially fun when that pop sugar comes from a kids film. However, what often helps kids movies transcend to larger audiences is the presence of adult humor. It’s interesting that one of the best studios to release that kind of humor has been Warner Brothers Animation. In the past two years, they’ve let meta-takes on the DC Universe rough rough shot over the world they’re trying to build. Last year’s “The LEGO Batman Movie” really made fun of everything, from “Suicide Squad” to “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Now they’re doing it again in 2018 with “Teen Titans GO! to the Movies.

Based on the cartoon series, “Teen Titans GO!,” we follow Robin, Cyborg, Starfire, Beast Boy, and Raven as they navigate the superhero landscape. Every other hero is getting a movie made about them, from Superman to Batman, to Aquamanatee, to Alfred, to the Bat Mobile. Yet no one wants to make a movie about the Titans, despite the fact that it’s Robin’s greatest wish. Faced with the task of finding an arch nemesis to get their own movie, the Titans begin a series of showdowns with the nefarious SLADE!

What helps to elevate this movie from being a simply an extended episode is the way in which they utilize their resources. Rather than be complacent with the cast of the original show, they add some big names across the board, and sport for some fresh animation styles. One of the cooler things the movie does is drastically shift its animation of the characters periodically in the movie. Perhaps my favorite styling was a return to the style of “Batman: The Animated Series” from the early 1990s. There’s some animation resembling ragdolls/”South Park” at some points, bulked out heroes with cut jawlines, and of course the cartoonish base from the show. There are even references to DC films, once again making fun of the visual styling of “Batman v. Superman” (and the general plot of that film as well). When animators stretch like this, it should impress audiences.

The cast for the show is actually really strong, featuring the talents of Scott Menville (Robin), Khary Payton (Cyborg), Tara Strong (Raven), Hynden Walch (Starfire) and Greg Cipes (Beast Boy). In the film, they add some great vocal talents, including Will Arnett as Slade, Kristen Bell as director Jade Wilson, and Nicolas Cage as Superman. We even get musical talent like Lil Yachty as Green Lantern (specifically as John Stewart) and Hawsley as Wonder Woman. Yachty contributes to the soundtrack, and Michael Bolton rocks out with “Upbeat Inspiration Song About Life” in the movie (he also voices a tiger).

The best way to describe the movie is super silly. It never really takes itself too seriously, and despite a couple dark jokes for adults, never really gets bleak. It is simply here to entertain and move you through the 80-minute runtime. It’s cute, it’s funny, and things aren’t overly complicated. The humor is funny to extremely funny for the whole movie. It doesn’t try to change what made the franchise a perfect series to get a movie. It just does what the show is known for doing. By using the meta humor of the show, turning it up to 100, and throwing in some jokes for adults, this movie succeeds across the board.

Nothing here is game-changing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth your time. In fact, considering the lack of even competently directed animated films so far this year, this is in my top 3 of animated features already. I believe the Oscars should actually take a hard look at this film when they go to their shortlist later in the year. Check this one out at some point, because it’ll definitely be worth your time.

GRADE: (★★½)

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