The Cartoon Network Super-Team Brings Super-Fun to the Cinema
DIRECTED BY AARON HORVATH & PETER RIDA MICHAIL/2018
For years and years in memorium, Aquaman served as the butt of every superhero joke. Naturally, an ocean based crime fighter with the ability to talk to fish sounded positively waterlogged. But goofing on him was like shooting his fish in a shallow barrel. Now that Aquaman is in being aggressively reinvented in the overcompensating form of raging powerhouse Jason Momoa, comedy writers must dig deeper for targets of super-lameness.
Fortunately for the makers of the all-new Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, the DC comic book universe provides no shortage of candidates. Detective Chimp, Plastic Man, Booster Gold, Metamorpho, and a myriad of others score their big screen debut here- assuming they didn’t already appear in the similarly spoofy entry, The Lego Batman Movie a couple of years ago.
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is an unrelenting breath of fresh air in the DC cinematic landscape; as continuously funny as it is exhausting.
Even more-so than that fondly remembered laugh machine, the dizzying inclusions of such deep-dive characters (ones that the dark and serious DC Cinematic Universe proper would likely rather we not know about) points to the obvious fact that the people who made Teen Titans Go! To the Movies know and truly love super hero comics more than anyone who’s ever made a live action DC film. Perhaps surprisingly, this movie is a sugar rush of a treat for just about everyone: longtime comic buffs, casual superhero fans, attention-challenged little kids (and their attention-challenged parents), and anyone who enjoys silly comedy.
Over the course of several seasons, DC’s animated Teen Titans Go! has comedically and smartly entertained superhero-loving tykes, as well as their often unsuspecting parents who are lucky enough to catch some of the quality gags. With all the manic energy and fourth wall breaking that anyone would expect from any contemporary kids’ show (be they rarely intelligent or irritatingly pandering), Go! has been a regular surge of madcap comic book appropriation, in far more than four colors.
So, now that every super hero under the sun is seemingly starring their very own theatrically released movie, why not these tiny Titans? That’s the exact question that team leader Robin (voice of Scott Menville) is asking at the beginning of their very film, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies.
Sure, these silly sidekicks can go to the movies- but should they really be in one? No one, including chronically cameo-ing Superman (Nicolas Cage, the man of steel at last), Wonder Woman (Halsey), and Green Lantern (Lil Yachty). Then there’s the big time director of blockbuster superhero movies, one Ms. Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell). She wants nothing to do with these goof-nut sidekicks. She’s got to concentrate on making the next dark n’ serious teeth-gnashing epic, Batman v Superman 2.
Since our heroes – Robin, snappy transformer Cyborg (Khary Payton), pixie-talking Starfire (Hynden Walch), wry and dry dark magic gal Raven (Tara Strong), and the hyper-crass animal shapeshifter Beast Boy (Greg Cipes)- are unable to score a movie deal, they resort to time travel to eliminate the competition. The Legion of Doom tried this very same plot on an old episode of Challenge of the Superfriends, and it didn’t go too well for them, either. But, when the Teen Titans are being overlooked by Hollywood in favor of Batman spin-offs devoted to Alfred the Battling Butler, the Batmobile, and even Utility Belt: The Movie, one can barely blame the team for resorting to such tactics.
The thing about all this is, though, the Teen Titans DO have a movie… This one! Granted, one might expect a certain “Monster at the End of This Book” moral to all of this, and, who knows, maybe there is. (Not really) Fact of the matter probably is that this animated joke-fest had to be gotten out the door pronto, before that new Titans live-action thing hits screens. Whatever THAT dark and gloomy bit of “mature”-rated tripe is, this critic would love nothing more than to see someone overdub Robin’s signature expletive line in that trailer with his newly coined catch phase from this movie: “[Tough-guy voice] Crack an egg on it. Caw-CAW!!!”
As dim and nutty as the Teen Titans are throughout this film, mixing scads of witty corkers with plenty of poop and fart jokes (that are also kind of funny), Go! veteran filmmakers Aaron Horvath and Peter Rida Michail take full advantage of the wackier history of DC Comics, coming up with plenty of fantastic fodder for fun. The screen pops from beginning to end with a veritable smorgasbord of authentic nonsense heroes of yesteryear, spoofing the characters at every era and incarnation. Move over Aquaman, The Challengers of the Unknown are here to be openly mocked! That’s right, The Challengers of the Unknown. They’re a real thing. Let’s see Zack Snyder do something with them!!
Faced (well, half faced) with the villainous Slade (not referred to by his comic book name of yore, “Deathstroke”, and voiced by Lego Batman himself, Will Arnett), the Titans must beat him, get their movie deal, clean up their messes, and stay out of the way of the so-called “real” superheroes while they do it. But first, they’d better work out that Slade is, in fact, not Deadpool. No amount of explaining on behalf of the villain can seem to clear this up.
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is an unrelenting breath of fresh air in the DC cinematic landscape; as continuously funny as it is exhausting. And, mathematically speaking, it’s smarter than ten Batman v Supermans, combined! If you love yourself some capes, don’t sit this one out.