Most people would agree that the Marvel Cinematic Universe stands supreme in the world of superhero movies. DC hasn’t quite figured out the formula of good writing, competent directing, and a balanced use of computer graphics. What they have been long-successful with are their animated series and films, many of which I have devoured excitedly. One I hadn’t seen much of due to not having the Cartoon Network was Teen Titans Go! I have watched all of Teen Titans and Young Justice thanks to Netflix, but had only caught glimpses of the newer series. Watching this on HBO Go recently, I am pleased to report Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is a delightfully fun and silly movie kids would love with plenty of jokes for the grown ups too.
The Teen Titans face off against Balloon Man who is destroying Jump City. They are holding their own until Balloon Man admits he doesn’t know who they are. They then get districted rapping about who they are and what they do (mostly silly hijinx) and ultimately the heroes of the Justice League have to step in and defeat Balloon Man. Superman (voiced by Nicholas Cage), Wonder Woman (the singer Halsey), and Green Lantern (rapper Lil Yachyt) tell them no one will ever take them seriously until they start acting like real superheroes. Later at the premiere of Batman’s new movie, Robin is creast-fallen to realize they will probably never make a movie about him (though they apparently are making movies about Alfred, the Batmobile, and Batman’s utility belt).
The rest of the Titans try to make Robin feel better by making him his own movie themselves, but he doesn’t appreciate the gesture. Robin’s first idea to become true superheroes is to go back in time and stop all the major origin stories from happening. Cue a hilarious Back to the Future sequence I adored. Realizing quickly what a terrible idea this is, they come to the conclusion that in order to be a real superhero, you need an archnemesis.
Enter Slade (Will Arnett, who voiced Lego Batman funnily enough). He attempts to out-smart the Titans with misdirection and silly deception techniques, but the Titans are able to foil his attempts to steal an important artifact, though he is able to escape after further distracting Robin with dreams of fame and fortune. Once Robin has the opportunity to star in his own movies with the stipulation that he must do them alone, he must make a difficult decision that will pit the Titans against their toughest foe yet.
I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. There were a ton of references to the DC movies, including a lot to the old Christopher Reeves Superman movies. They also poke fun at a lot of the recent ones because, let’s face it, they know they aren’t great. There are also a handful of Stan Lee cameos despite this not being a Marvel movie! There are also quite a few jokes that are a little dark, in my opinion. The kids won’t get them but each of them made me think, “WHOA, they went there, huh?” Silly, harmless gags, but still… (Pulls at collar, uncomfortably)
There are a handful of musical numbers as well and like The Lego Movie, are pretty catchy, including one feature Michael Bolton, of all singers. They certainly don’t shy away from potty humor, but even still, it’s cute and silly. The central message is strong and valuable: “You just need to be yourself.” I think kids and adults can both get behind that one.
While it’s no Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse, it’s a fun romp with some memorable characters and sequences. A good one to add to your rotation!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Snack Packs
Lincoln L. Hayes is an actor, writer, and dungeon master living in NYC. Say hi on Twitter: @lincolnlhayes and chat with him about movies.