Teen Titans Go! To the Movies review: The Cartoon Network show, which was in itself based on a comic book from the 60s, makes its way to the big screen.
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies review by Andrew Gaudion.
The Teen Titans have taken many forms since their comic-book introduction in the 60’s. The comic line has been cancelled and re-launched countless times with an ever-changing roster of members, and they have seen their fair share of other adaptations in other media too. I remember them from the original Cartoon Network show that ran from 2003-2006, but their most recent and popular iteration has been in a spin-off version of the CN show, Teen Titans GO!
The show offers an irreverent take on the teen crime-fighters (comprised of Robin, Beast Boy, Cyborg, Raven and Starfire, the same lineup as the original show and 80’s comic-books), focusing on their home-lives away from the crime-fighting and without adult supervision. Such is the popularity of the comedic spin-off, this version of the Titans have ended up with their very own movie, and the irreverent spirit that sets the show apart has very much made it intact to the big-screen.
In an effort to be taken seriously as superheroes, the Teen Titans go out of their way to get what every other superhero seems to have; their very own movie. It won’t be easy as the Titans have to pitch their credibility to the best superhero director in Hollywood (Kristen Bell) as well as contend with the villainous schemes of Slade (Will Arnett). Will they be able to keep their goof-ball tendencies in check and make it to the big screen and save the day?
Putting the superhero genre in its satirical sights, the Teen Titans GO! movie takes numerous swings at the over-populated climate we’re currently experiencing with comic-book movies. There are plenty of swings at Marvel, but this DC property isn’t afraid to also poke fun at their own slate of movies and characters, with a lot of the major and more obscure players also featuring here often at their own expense, including Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman (who is voiced by Nicolas Cage, finally getting able to play the Son of Krypton in some fashion).
The gag rate is exceptionally high over the breezy 90-minute runtime, with the film largely substituting plot for sequences of extended gags and musical montages. This could get irritating very quickly. But, luckily for the film (and for us), the gags are often very funny.
There’s a sequence which highlights the crowded nature of the superhero genre with tenuous properties being developed based on popular properties (the ‘Alfred’ movie doesn’t seem far off from something Warner would actually develop). The highlight of the musical sequences is almost certainly an 80’s style power ballad, complete with synths, a sax solo and Michael Bolton. There is also an extended sequence in which the Titans reverse a number of heroes’ origin stories, only to immediately regret their decision and have to go back and un-do their undoing.
The gags across these sequences range from juvenile to the intelligent, to the fleeting to the well-observed, and from the cute to the surprisingly dark. It plays to both young and old audiences in equal measure, if not quite as elegantly as over animated offerings on the market. Yet, it goes about its business with such a manic glee that is hard not to get caught up in the simple yet engaging animation. IT also has a great reverence for the history of DC animation across the years, with many a nod to the exceptional Batman: The Animated Series from the 90’s among other call-backs to animated stylings of DC’s past.
Teen Titans GO! To the Movies is certainly more purely enjoyable than almost all of the DC movies we’ve had of late. It is a smart kids flick without being too smug about it, probably largely down to the fact that it also can’t help but indulge in a fart gag or two. Thanks to its giddy sense of humour and wicked wit, this is a surprising leap to the big screen for the Titans that doesn’t play it easy, often going out of its way to make the whole audience laugh, regardless of age or familiarity with the characters. Go to the movies with the Teen Titans, you may well be surprised by how much you enjoy it.
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies review by Andrew Gaudion, July 2018.