The Teen Titans are vexed. After years of battling various bad guys they still aren’t respected by ‘real’ super heroes like Superman (Nic Cage), Batman (Jimmy Kimmel) et al, who all have their own movies – a sure-fire sign you’ve made it. Heck, even Alfred, Batman’s butler, has a movie incoming (The Grime Fighter). So when Hollywood director Jade Wilson (Bell) offers to put them in their own film the gang feel they are finally on the cusp of superstardom. But Jade only plans on making a Robin (Menville) solo outing, driving a wedge between the friends, while villain Slade (Arnett) uses the time the superheroes are spending at premieres to hatch his own nefarious plans…
The big screen outing of the Cartoon Network hit doesn’t mess much with the formula and resists the temptation to spruce up the visuals. There are still plenty of superhero in-jokes and pop culture references to entertain both kids and adults with the outstanding sequence seeing the team go back in time to ensure superheroes don’t become superheroes (convincing Jor-El to keep Kal-El on Krypton, guiding the Wayne family away from that dark alley). Later, when the lack of superheroes allows villains to run riot they must undo all this again (wrecking Krypton, convincing the Waynes the alleyway is indeed safe – even reminding Martha Wayne to wear her pearls).
And still the references come. Stan Lee (as Stan Lee) shows up for his cameo even though he’s aware this is DC universe. Slade is confused with Deadpool, which irritates him no end. The Green Lantern suffers a right ribbing. There’s a decent fart gag involving Greg Davies. And there’s a cracking Lion King parody/funny dream sequence involving a witty song sung by Michael Bolton. And it’s fast pace ensures momentum is maintained – at 88 mins it really packs in as many jokes as it can.
Away from the gags the emphasis on the theme of friendship shines through as Robin has to put aside his personal ambition for the good of his friends (Khary Payton’s Cyborg, Greg Cipes’ Beast Boy, Tara Strong’s Raven and Hynden Walch’s Starfire); for a movie that’s built on mockery it’s got a lot of heart too. An extended special episode it may be but for fans and newcomers there is a lot to enjoy and should tide the kids over until the next Lego Movie.