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  Teen Titans Go! To the Movies Gonna Make You A Star
Year: 2018
Director: Aaron Horvath, Peter Rida Michail
Stars: Greg Cipes, Scott Menville, Khary Payton, Tara Strong, Hynden Walch, Will Arnett, Kristen Bell, Michael Bolton, Nicolas Cage, Greg Davies, John DiMaggio, Halsey, Tom Kenny, Jimmy Kimmel, Stan Lee, Patton Oswalt, Fred Tatasciore, Lil Yachty, Will Wheaton
Genre: Comedy, Action, Animated, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Balloon Man (voiced by Greg Davies) has unleashed his awesome power of inflatability on the city, and has his sights set on robbing the banks in the area, that is until he meets his match. On throwing police cars about, he is stopped in his tracks as the vehicles are suspended in mid-air, then safely placed on the ground: the Teen Titans are here, and begin to use their powers and abilities on him with incredible effect. Well, they make it sound like he's farting, anyway. There's only one problem, though, he doesn't know who they are, he thinks they're minor Justice League members, and when the Teens do their rap to set him right, the real League appears and foils Balloon Man decisively.

As you may have gathered from the above introduction, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies was irreverent almost to a fault, a spoofy take on superhero movies that, as with every spoofy take on superheroes, had to abide by the rules of the genre nevertheless. But the filmmakers made this a virtue of the cartoon, leading those who had been irritated by the original television series it was based on grudgingly admitting it was pretty funny, and those who were won over already affirmed in their delight that directors Aaron Horvath and Peter Rida Michail had succeeded so admirably in building on the sense of humour that had marked out the small screen incarnation.

Fans being fans, there remained grumbles in that there was a contingent who had really enjoyed the previous version of the Teen Titans, and were aggrieved when it was effectively cancelled for this version, which pitched both younger, with cutesy designs and juvenile gags, and to the older toon appreciator who enjoyed the more grown-up references the creators smuggled in, and that included the jokes that would go over the heads of the little ones. This was more or less the approach in To the Movies, a meta style that was not unknown to Marvel fans of Deadpool, yet as it was a kids' animation this was able to be more inclusive and didn't need to pander with the violent content.

Really, you would have to be either so sick of superhero movies that you had had them up to here, or a megafan of the original Teen Titans toon to be incensed by what was concocted in the name of entertainment when Robin (Scott Menville) decides his heart's desire is a movie of his own - which is what we were watching, just to bend the brain a tad if you started to think about this too hard. Accompanied by his cohorts Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), Cyborg (Khary Payton from The Walking Dead), Raven (toon legend Tara Strong) and Starfire (Hynden Walch, Princess Bubblegum herself), he sets out to make things better for his team since every other superhero is getting their own silver screen outing, and after being refused admittance to Batman's new blockbuster premiere when every other DC superhero was there, the theme was getting taken seriously.

Obviously that was central to the plot because the tots who were clamouring to see this would have trouble being taken seriously themselves, at least for their bigger dreams, but it was also an opportunity to take apart the genre in a way that was a lot friendlier than Deadpool, and almost more sly as well. The main antagonist was Deathstroke (Will Arnett, also a producer - and also Lego Batman), who the Ryan Reynolds character was ripped off from (oh, my mistake, he was a parody, so that's all right then), just one example of the savvy that went into an extremely comics literate movie that had no real reason to be keen to dip into so much of the history of the medium. Not that anybody but an expert would be able to identify every character represented, in the background as well as the foreground, but it added a depth to what could have been shallow, while simultaneously making fun of a shallowness Robin was devoting himself to. If self-referential was its default mode, it was frequently hilarious, with a classic final line. Music by Jared Faber.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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