In theaters next weekend, The Lego Batman Movie mixes the fun of The Lego Movie while spoofing the superhero genre resulting in a film that will entrance all comers.
Our hero’s journey begins with a pitch black screen because as The Dark Knight explains all great movies start that way. Batman (Will Arnett) is a self-center vigilante with narcissistic tendencies who prefers to work alone. During the opening fight sequence, he tells the Joker “Batman doesn’t do ships.. as in relationships” which immediately breaks the Joker (Zack Galifianakis), heart. After defeating the Joker for about the millionth time in a row, Batman heads home to celebrate alone. Back in the Bat-Cave, he treats himself to some microwave lobster and a viewing of Jerry Maguire.
His life of solitude faces challenges, at first by his butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) who urges him to take an active role in his adopted son Dick Grayson’s (Micheal Cera) life. After much pouting, he relents and allows him to come on one of his missions as he believes that Dick is expendable.He’s pushed further by brand new police commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) to consider working in a collaborative manner with the Gotham police department instead of working “outside” the law. While this is going on, The Joker hatches a plan that he hopes will elevate his standing in Batman’s eyes so that he’s considered his greatest enemy. The film ultimately becomes a tale of whether or not Bruce Wayne/Batman will accept help from his friends as he faces his biggest test yet.
What I Didn’t Like
I do think the film could have been around 80 minutes. There were moments where the film did tend to drag a little, but it wasn’t enough to completely derail what was happening on screen. However, had they tighten the movie up slightly, it might have raised the overall impact of the gags on screen.
Seth Grahame-Smith and the writing team on The Lego Batman movie attempt to construct a story that has a heart just like its predecessor, The Lego Movie. They hammer the theme of “we are a family” repeatedly throughout the film to the point where it borders on being excessive. Why did they even attempt to insert any heart into this narrative? This movie was meant to be simply a spoof of the superhero genre and nothing more.
What I did Like
I thought the film was cleverly written. It has plenty of gags mixed in with a ton of callbacks to any number of the Batman movies and even the TV series. The writers found plenty of comedy in Batman’s background, even exploiting the idea of how big your ego must be to finance your burning desire to become a vigilante. They had plenty of lines in which Batman was talking about his nine pack of abs, and he even has a song (that he plays) while kicking bad guy butt around Gotham City. Alfred even reminds Batman of how many times he has an identity crisis dating back to an episode of the television series back in 1966, to which Batman replies “I have aged beautifully.”
The use of many of the characters in the DC universe was a welcomed addition as well. It made me giggle that Justice League didn’t want anything to do with Batman. The use of the super villains was a nice touch as well. What sold me on their use of characters was how they used Batman and Superman as the launching pad for Joker being heartbroken by the Dark Knight. I guess the Joker couldn’t handle the idea of The Dark Knight liking to “fight around.”
The voice acting in this film was bright and energetic. It’s easy to hear how much fun they were having when they were making this picture. Director Chris Mckay made some brilliant decision during this making of this film and that one comes to mind was him allowing Will Arnett riff. There are times during the movie when you know Arnett is just reading the jokes that were written and others seemed improvised. For Example, the one where Batman is throwing a temper because he doesn’t want to go to Jim Gordon’s retirement party and immediately breaks into beatboxing. Hearing Batman beat box at that moment didn’t seem to fit, but it sure as hell was funny.
While The Lego Batman doesn’t reach the lofty standards set forth by The Lego Movie, this film is a highly entertaining spoof of an ever growing genre. The animation is surprisingly crisp during the film (especially during the fight scenes). Is this movie perfect? No, I think in parts of it tries too hard to be relevant and the film could have easily been 80 minutes long. That being said, I can not remember the last time I’ve laughed that much in a movie. The Lego Batman movie isn’t going to win any awards, but it will certainly delight fans of all ages. Can’t ask for much more than that.