Had the Teen Titans not gone from their universally adored show from the mid 2000’s to the meme spewing kiddie factory that is Teen Titans Go! there wouldn’t be as much hate around them getting the red carpet treatment. Watching 22 minute episodes on an at will basis is one thing, but an hour and a half may be asking too much from an already polarized fan-base who just sat through a 20 second fart joke in the trailer. Yet somehow its tomato on the well known review site received more love than anticipated after the algorithms were calculated. So what’s the big deal in this rotten show turned fresh?
The Teen Titans (Scott Menville, Khray Payton, Tara Strong, Hynden Walch and Grep Cipes) may have superpowers and gadgets like Batman and Superman, but what they don’t have is a movie much to Robin’s grief. In fact everything from Batman’s universe like Alfred and the Batmobile are getting anticipated applause from Wonder Woman and Green Lantern. Trying to prove their worth to the Hollywood big shots who are too busy filming to stop crime, the team searches for an arch nemesis to garner attention of director, Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell). Their answer comes in the form of wise-cracking assassin, Slade (Will Arnett).
Obviously this is an extended episode brought to the big-screen as evident of the barely upgraded animation, though kudos to having a variety to go with the rarely theatrical 2D style. However looking past that there’s a lot of clever commentary. When the Titans are pushed to the side or are part of the jabs revolving around the more well known icons it’s legitimately funny in how dark the humor can get (There was a Green Lantern movie…….but…we don’t talk about that). Nothing is sacred no matter your background, but it’s all in good fun at the end of the day. By far the best fan joke is Nicolas Cage as Superman. Blink and you’ll miss it along with a “subtle” appearance that’s out of left field in an unexpected breach of loyalty. It’s surprising how much genuine comedy came from bringing a new spin on mocking comic-book saturation without completely plagiarizing Deadpool.
But it wouldn’t be a Teen Titans Go! experience without jokes overstaying their welcome or a shoe-horned rap set like an alarm clock: always on snooze and ready to repeat every 10 minutes. For a cartoon that trimmed the drama and multi-layered character development of its predecessor, the score ironically begs everyone to sympathize with these heroes that can be switched out for one another because their personalities are that one note: noisy, void of reality, prone to making troll faces and going against their team bonding moments with the actions of an uncaged monkey. It’d be great to see the other Teen Titans go through this since that show was an evolved story line that branched out a believable universe long before Marvel made it cool. Think of how the stylized animation would look like upgraded in theatrical form. Think of how the stakes could be raised when the boundaries were already being pushed from it’s cable counterpart. Flat animation is the norm for the indie crowd and outside the U.S.A. why not mock the over saturation of America’s obsession with computer animation as well? Instead, we get waffle crazed kids on sugar high with a side order of the twist villain that’s worming it’s way from patient zero, Disney, to the rest of the animated competition.
I’ll give Teen Titans Go! To the Movies credit: it could’ve been worse. The material far exceeds what the show was capable of when restricted to the new Cartoon Network standards. I just wish this was made with the 2003 team since the drama doesn’t mix well with a series dominated by comedic hi-jinx aimed at kids. This probably would’ve had a better home on streaming services or as a television movie. So the outcome is based on whether or not you like the show. If you’re in the former, take the whole family and have a good laugh with others. If you’re in the latter find solace in the 2006 series finale Trouble in Tokyo or The Lego Batman Movie which beat this to the punch in the direction it was going (50 dollars says this’ll get an Oscar nomination as deserving as Boss Baby by year’s end). Otherwise it might be a fair trade in a few months with that mid-credit teaser at the ending giving hope of a comeback for the anime inspired original (please don’t be just a crossover). At if it comes down to this or the bipolar Snyder/Whedon Justice League, sign me up with this ragtag.
Choose your team!
Pros: Nicholas Cage Superman, post-credit teaser, dark humor, meta Hollywood perspective, animation variety
Cons: TV quality animation, dragged out jokes, inconsistent main characters, “twist” villain
Proceeding the meta DC feature is a short by My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic creator, Lauren Faust. An play on The Great Gatsby title, the night has Batgirl trying to catch up with her super team to take down Mr. Freeze who’s been infected with the Schwarzenegger virus in physique and dialogue. While a nice intro it clocks out too soon making it feel more like a trailer than a theatrical short even with veteran voice actresses at the front with fluid animation. Maybe Olaf’s Frozen Adventure isn’t looking too bad right now.
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Twitter: CinematicBandicoot @Maxbubbles