EXPECTATIONS: Something as enjoyable as Captain Underpants.
REVIEW: The Marvel Universe and the DC Comics film extended universe. If one were to think about the incredibly savage conflicts involved in superhero fandom, the battle between these two isn’t a bad place to start.
Ever since the Marvel Universe was king, the DC Universe tried to one-up them in every single opportunity, with mixed results. Only one of their films was critically acclaimed while the rest were either polarizing or just cinematic kryptonite.
But sometimes during conflict, humour can be mined and the jabs between the two universes had started to come into fruition in a major way when Tim Miller‘s Deadpool came out. Ripping the Marvel Universe and DC Universe to shreds as well as subverting action tropes and conventional storytelling, it took Hollywood by storm.
Which leads us to Teen Titans GO! To the Movies, which has the same meta approach towards its superhero peers. With the TV show that it is based on, struggling to be a success in the eyes of television critics as well as the fans of the original Teen Titans cartoon show due to its meta approach to itself and its rambunctious attitude, the Titans finally have the major opportunity to prove themselves with their own feature film. Will they succeed?
Based on the TV show of the same name, the film shows the adventures of its titular teen heroes, including Robin (Scott Menville), Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), Cyborg (Khary Payton), Raven (Tara Strong) and Starfire (Hynden Walch).
The story revolves around the efforts of the group, who are disappointed over not having starred in a superhero movie of their own. They start attempting to rectify the situation by convincing a famed Hollywood director (Kristen Bell) to develop one for them. Complicating their plans is the dastardly villain Slade (Will Arnett) and his scheme to conquer the world.
For a family film to succeed, the film is supposed to provide satisfying entertainment for the entire family and not just for the children. Thankfully Teen Titans GO! To the Movies does exactly that, even with the inclusion of fans, and– You know what, I’m gonna go straight to the point here and say that Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is the funniest film of the year. An absolute blast from beginning to end that has a sense of humour that’s even more savage to superhero films than the Deadpool films.
One of the major reasons the film succeeds is that no subject gets away from a good skewering. Superhero films? You betcha. Superhero origins? Of course. The Hollywood industry? Why not. Family films in general? Throw them in there too! The Teen Titans GO! show itself? Bring it in! But even with the plentiful targets on display, the film never feels like it collapses under its own weight and that’s due to the incredibly fast pace and the delivery of the jokes.
Blink-or-you’ll miss jokes are plentiful like seeing the movie posters like Aquamanatee or Detective Chimp: The Movie). Pop culture references and parodies are executed brilliantly like an inspired sequence involving The Lion King and another sequence involving Back to the Future.
Also, film tropes and conventions are subverted just right with catchy musical numbers like a song where the characters commit many shenanigans called…Shenanigans. Or an upbeat inspirational song about life called…An Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life, sung by a talking tiger voiced by Michael Bolton of all people!
And of course, the Marvel Universe and DC Universe get lampooned to maximum effect like how Slade is made fun of by the Titans for looking exactly like Deadpool, despite the fact that Deadpool is an actual rip-off of Slade. Or how the ‘Martha’ scene in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is parodied to amusing effect when their fathers are brought into the picture.
Even throwaway lines and offbeat casting are factored into the humour like the mentioning of Gene Hackman‘s real estate scheme or how Nicolas Cage is cast as Superman (when he almost played the superhero in a film by Tim Burton) and how his son, Kal-El Cage was cast as Young Bruce Wayne. It is jokes, gags and Easter eggs like that, which gives the film a lot of replay value.
And then there’s the adult-related jokes that will fly over the children’s heads but will startle the parents and fans into absolute hysterics. One joke involves a hit-and run while another involves the use of kryptonite against Superman in such a suggestive manner that I personally was in absolute shock. Other jokes involves time-travel and the way the characters change the origins of various superheroes will provides loads of laughs, mainly due to how dark and abrupt the jokes are delivered.
But what makes the dark and adult jokes feel earned and non-provocative is the level of childlike innocence and sincerity these characters have when they are portrayed on-screen. The obliviousness, the enthusiasm and the lack of cynicism is what gives the humour the punch it needs.
The voice cast deliver on all fronts, including the original voice cast from the TV show, newcomers who clearly have experience working in animation like Will Arnett (Bojack Horseman, The LEGO Movie, The LEGO Batman Movie), Kristen Bell (Disney’s Frozen) as well as off-kilter casting including Nicolas Cage, Halsey, Lil Yachty and even Stan Lee himself!
As for flaws, and there are very little, there are some moments in the film that could’ve had more development into the story as well as could’ve been mined for more humour i.e. how female directors like Slade Wilson are directing superhero films. And there will be some jokes that will irk parents due to how suggestive the jokes are. One visual joke that involves Superman as a baby will definitely put off some.
Exceeding this reviewer’s expectations, Teen Titans Go! To The Movies is an absolute ball of a time with high-spirited animation, lovable characters, infectiously catchy musical numbers and a wonderful sense of humour that is either adorably innocent for its demographic and beyond; savagely meta towards itself and its superhero peers, ingeniously referential towards pop culture references and is hilariously inappropriate, thanks to the gags that will fly over the heads of children but will soar with adults.
This review can be also seen at IMPULSE GAMER. Visit the site by pressing the picture above.
Cast: Greg Cipes, Scott Menville, Khary Payton, Tara Strong, Hynden Walch, Will Arnett, Kristen Bell, Nicolas Cage, Halsey, Greg Davies, Jimmy Kimmel, Lil Yachty, Dana Snyder, Kal-El Cage
Director: Peter Rida Michail, Aaron Horvath
Screenwriters: Michael Jelenic, Aaron Horvath