UK Release Date: 3rd August 2018
Runtime: 88 minutes
Director: Aaron Horvath, Peter Rida Michail
Writer: Aaron Horvath, Michael Jelenic
Starring: Scott Menville, Hynden Walch, Tara Strong, Greg Cipes, Khary Payton, Will Arnett, Kristen Bell, Nicolas Cage, Jimmy Kimmel
Synopsis: The Teen Titans decide to pull out all the stops and earn themselves a notorious arch-enemy in the hope of finally getting to star in their very own superhero movie.
I can’t say I’m familiar with the Teen Titans, either from comic books, their early noughties TV run or the more recent Teen Titans GO! series. So it was with absolutely no knowledge of what to expect they I wandered into the cinema – on my birthday no less! – to see Teen Titans GO! To The Movies. Over the next 90 minutes, I was relentlessly charmed by a film that has endless affection for the superhero genre, while also giving it a thorough kick up the arse and delivering a healthy blast of fart humour in the process.
The eponymous Titans are a ragtag group of adolescent superheroes led by Robin (Scott Menville) and featuring alien princess Starfire (Hynden Walch), shapeshifter Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), tech expert Cyborg (Khary Payton) and dark sorceress Raven (Tara Strong). They are constantly treated as a joke by other heroes and decide they need to get their own movie to change this perception. Ace director Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell) tells them she might make a film about them if they can find an arch-enemy, which leads the team to take on Slade (Will Arnett).
From its delightfully meta premise to its rollercoaster ride of fart gags and wordplay, Teen Titans GO! To The Movies is a blast from start to finish. Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic’s script is full to bursting with jokes, boasting an absolutely ridiculous gag rate. The characters attend the premiere of Batman Again, there are movie posters in every frame announcing absurd superhero blockbusters and there’s an absolutely riotous scene focused around the ‘subtlety’ of Stan Lee and his Marvel cameos. Barely a moment goes by without a brightly-coloured blast of comic energy.
Much of that comedic fervour is directed squarely at the superhero phenomenon as we know it, in a considerably lighter and more affectionate way than we’ve come to expect from the Deadpool movies. The meta-quips land with a real sense of innocent fun, from the aforementioned Stan Lee moments to the nice nod of casting Nicolas Cage as Superman – 20 years after he came within a whisker of playing the character for Tim Burton. There’s also a terrific run of parodies from outside of the superhero world, including some nice Back to the Future material and arguably the funniest Lion King parody ever committed to screen. It has to be seen to be believed.
It also bears mention that Teen Titans GO! To The Movies is a musical. The creators have a handful of immediately catchy songs in their back pocket, from Robin’s delightfully egotistical song about getting his own movie to the Michael Bolton featuring ‘Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life‘. Bizarrely, it’s the second animated movie in the last few weeks to assert the power of EDM for brightly-coloured effect. Every musical moment lands and keeps the momentum of the story going, even as it visibly suffers from the stretching-out of its TV show roots.
And if Teen Titans suffers at all, it’s because it doesn’t quite fit the big screen format. At just shy of 90 minutes – including a fun Batgirl short before the main feature – it still feels as if it’s artificially stretching every fibre of its story in order to fit the structure of a movie. Rather ironically, these Teen Titans actually are ill-suited to the big screen, but there’s enough music, silliness and bonkers comedy that it’s impossible not to be taken along for the ride. DC superhero movies are seldom associated with joy, but this really showed that they are capable of making it happen.
Pop or Poop?
It was with little in the way of expectations that I went to see Teen Titans GO! To The Movies, but almost everything about the movie works. It has such energy and joy behind it that it’s impossible not to be swept along in its technicolour ride of enjoyable stupidity. These characters are exactly what the doctor ordered for DC and I can’t wait for them to get another go on the big screen. Teen Titans GO! To Make a Sequel?
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.