If any cinematic universe was in need of having its pants pulled down, its sense of self-importance called out and ridiculed, it’s the DC one. The Marvel movies have always managed not to take themselves too seriously, but when they do – even to great effect, as in Logan or Avengers: Infinity War – there’ll be a Deadpool movie along any minute to deflate their balloons. That happens literally in the opening scene of Teen Titans Go! To The Movies, as the teenage superheroes from the hit TV series Teen Titans Go! – itself an update of the Cartoon Network Teen Titans series from 2003 – take on a giant inflatable bank robber and burst his balloon butt-first, making a hilarious and humiliating fart noise that has the team dissolving in fits of giggles. The Justice League they ain’t.
Teen Titans Go! To The Movies is not only the superhero movie every kid needs, it’s the superhero movie we all need – the animated antidote to the inherent sanctimony and self-righteousness of the genre itself. It’s as though the Animaniacs really had taken over the running of Warner Bros, throwing the studio’s Looney Tunes legacy and DC Extended Universe pomposity in a self-aware blender, and spraying the resulting goo over the audience with a squirt gun that makes fart noises. Man, is it refreshing.
There isn’t much in the way of plot, as that would get in the way of what is essentially a non-stop gag-fest. Robin, the eternal sidekick promoted to leader of a rag-tag group of second-tier superheroes (Beastboy, Cyborh, Starfire and Raven), decides that in order to be taken seriously, he needs his own movie, and sets out to accomplish this by any means necessary. First he tries to erase all the other superheroes from existence by travelling back in time and messing with their origin – stopping planet Krypton from blowing up, preventing Bruce Wayne’s parents from being shot, etc. – and when that proves a little too effective, the team decides that what they really need is a big bad Arch Nemesis. Step forward Slade, who is voiced by the film’s Most Valuable Player, Will Arnett, having even more fun than he did as the caped crusader in the Lego movies. (Kristen Bell is also an enjoyable presence as movie director Jade Wilson, and don’t even get me started on the post-modern joy of having Nicolas Cage voicing Superman while his real-life son, Kal-El Cage, voices Batman – *mind blown emoji*
It’s young, dumb and full of fun – and in a time when the funniest films around are not quote-unquote comedies but superhero flicks like Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool 2, Teen Titans Go! To The Movies might just be the funniest film of them all. Which makes it the funniest film of the year. Go figure. And Go! To The Movies. To see Teen Titans Go! To The Movies.
Is Teen Titans Go! To The Movies a Good Movie for Kids?
It’s really hard to pull a message from a movie that has a sequence at the end that subverts kids’ movies with messages, but there are fun lessons to be learned here about the end not justifying the means, how sacrificing your friends to big up yourself is a hollow pursuit, and how, as Robin says at the end, “You don’t need to be super to be a superhero – you just need to be yourself” – just before he is told to pipe down because what people really want is to get to the credits so they can go home without being spoon-fed an important takeaway message.