Making the jump from the small to the big screen isn’t that unusual when it comes to kids TV. But as a general rule it tends to be shows that have had extensive runs and made a notable impact on both the child and adult world. After all, while I haven’t watched them, I was well aware of SpongeBob SquarePants, My Little Pony and Peppa Pig long before their big screen debuts.
Teen Titans Go!, however, seems to be the one that has escaped my notice. But maybe I’m just showing my age as, with 214 episodes over five years, there’s clearly a significant audience out there willing to gobble up the adventures of Robin and his superhero friends on cinema screens.
Also, as mentioned in previous reviews, DC are killing it when it comes to bringing their superheroes to life in either animated or live-action TV form. But they haven’t quite done the same when it comes to their theatrical live-action movies. So, with the release of Teen Titans Go! To The Movies; the question is whether the same quality that permeates their animated TV fare can make the jump to the big screen?
Put simply… Yes. Yes it does. And amazingly, it’s one of the best kids movies you’ll see this year.
After failing to defeat the ridiculously named villain, Balloon Man (Greg Davies), the Teen Titans are perceived by the wider superhero community as nothing more than a group of tearaway kids. This especially infuriates their leader, Robin (Scott Menville), who wants to gain credibility by having a movie made about him. But the Hollywood machine, led by director Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell), firmly rejects him, considering any superhero without an arch-nemesis as unworthy of the big screen treatment.
Determined to get his own movie, Robin gets together with the rest of the Teen Titans: Cyborg (Khary Payton); Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), Raven (Tara Strong), and Starfire (Hynden Walch). Together they try to take down the feared supervillain known as Slade (Will Arnett). But in doing so, the Titans will face their biggest and most wacky adventure yet.
There are movies that break the fourth wall; and then there are movies that bulldoze through it. Teen Titans GO! To The Movies (TTGTTM) is without a doubt one of the latter. With sly winks at the camera and dozens of pop culture references, TTGTTM becomes almost Deadpool-esque in its portrayal of the superhero world. Writers Michael Jelenic & Aaron Horvath have done an astounding job here, weaving together plenty of jokes for both kids and adults alike. The film even takes care of the newcomers by opening the proceedings with a catchy rap. Said song effortlessly introduces all the main players and their attributes. It might be a little on the nose, but when it’s this fun you don’t really care.
Indeed, if TTGTTM could be boiled down to one word, “fun” would be high on the list. Heavily reminiscent of the old Looney Tunes cartoons, the movie moves at an almost breakneck speed; throwing together slapstick routines with toe-tapping music numbers, and all within a modest 88-minute runtime.
The characters, while all well-defined and strongly voiced (with a special shout-out to the deadpanning tones of Tara Strong), do end up being a little uneven in their presentation. While plenty of screen time is given to Robin and Slade, the film’s main protagonist and antagonist; the same can’t be said for the rest of the Teen Titans. While it’s not a deal-breaker, it would have been nice for the other four members of the team to have been given proper character arcs.
A few other minor quibbles do pop up here and there. One being that the animation, while engaging, is (quite literally) made for TV. And unlike the meta jokes of Deadpool (which can mostly be enjoyed independently); TTGTTM does ask its audience to have some extensive pre-knowledge of the DC universe. But overall these points are easily overlooked and don’t really hamper the enjoyment.
There are only two DC movies out on the big screen in 2018. Unless a borderline miracle takes place at the end of the year, Aquaman is almost guaranteed to come in second place on a scale that measures how fun and exciting a movie can be.
Despite the easy comparisons to The Lego Movie or Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, TTGTTM instead hems quite closely to the satirical masterpieces of Airplane or a Mel Brooks movie. In other words, an absolutely rollicking good time for all involved.