PG, because everything animated is PG! There's a lot of butt and fart jokes. Like...a lot. I can't stress how uncomfortable the butt jokes made me. There's so many. So many butt jokes. There's some very cartooney violence, so I wouldn't worry about it from that slant. I tend not to let my kids watch the Teen Titans GO! TV show, but I let them watch this. I don't get me either.
DIRECTORS: Aaron Horvath and Peter Rida Michail
All break long, I've been trying to find time to write. Now I have time to write and I don't want to do it. (I've been having a day.) I would like to point out that my daughter has started her own blog. Apparently, she was inspired by her dad. *So! Proud!* But that's the explanation for why I watched Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. I love bonding with my kids. They got this for Christmas. Then they had to go and watch the movie with their friends...twice. You think I'm going to let that stand? I had to watch this movie with my kids. I don't care if it was the third time that they had watched it in three days! And you know what? I didn't regret it.
Teen Titans Go! as a TV show has always been something to kind of avoid. It has that odd frenetic energy that kids' programming seems to have. It screams Cartoon Network. I know that when I got on board of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, I should have seen what way the wind was blowing. Considering that I watch a lot of superhero related programming, I suppose the line had to be drawn at the majority of animated properties. I really don't want to be a snob about animated superhero stuff, It has so much of my favorite stuff in it, but I also want a narrative. This stuff is almost intentionally anti-narrative. (I'm not talking literally, but it seems to communicate a lot of the concerns I had with the show.) But I heard that the movie was pretty good and it really is fairly solid. It kind of does the best parts of the show while still keeping some kind of focus. I'm dancing around that word: focus. Because the show and storytelling is so frenetic, the filmmakers had to balance the weirdness of the show and the needs of a movie. I'm going to get a little SPOILERY (mainly because I'm running out of time to write this), but there's an entire subplot about time travel. It's about ten minutes of film. It's not insignificant, but I've never really seen a movie do this. The movie is about Robin trying to get a superhero movie made about himself. Because he's a sidekick and lives in a universe where the Teen Titans are not traditional superheroes, he realizes that the only way that he could be made famous is to prevent all of the famous superheroes from having tragic backstories. I've never seen a movie so unapologetically state that they are stalling for time. Because it is intentionally a stall for time, it really works. But it would only work in the Teen Titans Go! movie. I can't think of another property that would be able to handle it, but it is like it stuck a mini-episode in the middle of its film. It's great.
The very concept of all of the characters is absurd. Teen Titans Go! exist in a world where stakes are insanely low for superheroes. The world is swamped with them. Batman and Superman are heroes and they handle major threats. But the Teen Titans have Titans Tower, looking over Jump City. (I think it is Jump City. This is new to me.) But threats are comically silly and low stakes. Very rarely do the Titans ever get into scraps. Heck, for all I know, for the run of the show, the Titans may not actually stop any bad guys. What this creates is a team that have super powers, but don't actually do anything with these super powers that is productive. This makes the movie endlessly cheery. It is such cinematic candy that I think I need to watch this movie every time I watch a Christopher Nolan or Zack Snyder entry into the DC Universe. It's really interesting that the Teen Titans fits into any mold that the storytellers want. There was the former Teen Titans animated show that had a silly edge to a fairly straightforward superhero narrative. There is Teen Titans Go! that ramps up the silliness to a level previously unseen. The new Titans show on DC Universe looks bleaker than any other property that I've seen. I don't know what foundational elements make the Titans able to be molded into what seems to be an infinite amount of situations, but I do like that we get these characters in multiple forms. Because the characters are so cheery, there were some trappings that the filmmakers cleverly avoided to get the film to work at all. If the stakes are as low as the movie makes them out to be, there are certain children's movie tropes that the film wisely chooses to ignore. For such a perky movie, the movie almost seems to be casting light on the cliche's of children's films. The movie telegraphs that the team is going to split and forget their friendships, only to come back stronger for being together. The movie actively and in the most metatextual way comments on how trite this idea is. Instead, the movie grabs onto the viewer and refuses to let go. There's something always happening and a joke always to be told. I mean, thank goodness not every movie is Teen Titans Go! to the Movies, but it does have fun.
Oddly enough, the scale of this film is kind of impressive. When a TV show, especially an animated one, makes the jump to the big screen, there's something oddly forgettable about the transition. Often, the animation budget goes up and there are large setpieces to make it the most important entry in the story. I'm going to use The Simpsons Movie as an example. I love The Simpsons Movie and will probably defend it for a while, but it is a dot-the-i's movie. It takes everything and makes it bigger. It doesn't really look like an episode of the show, but doesn't feel that foreign to the whole thing either. Teen Titans Go! to the Movies kind of looks like a Teen Titans Go! episode and I appreciate that. The scale actually goes into putting the narrative in the story along with musical numbers. Again, I have kids that are the right age to get really into obsession, so the music has been blasting from Alexa all Christmas break. But the music is pretty good. Again, like the whole movie being rather juvenile, the music is as well. But the songs are catchy and they do tell the story pretty well. Similarly, bringing Slade / Deathstroke into the film was also a great decision. (When did the DC Universe decide to drop the whole "Deathstroke the Terminator" moniker and just use his alter ego as his villain name?) I don't know what weird deal that Will Arnett has with DC properties, but that needs to keep on happening. Between his voiceover work as Batman and this, I absolutely love what he's doing for their funnier properties. It's bizarre that, considering that a lot of this movie is based around the idea that the Titans need a real villain, that this rendition of Slade is fairly inept as well. Like, he's better than the Titans, but that's not saying much because these Titans are criminally distractable.
But the thing that made me most love the movie was the love for the DC Comics. DC has been kind of my ex-friend list for a while. I used to love DC before the DCEU showed up. But around the DCEU, the New 52 happened and DC tried becoming everything I didn't want. It was sad and gloomy and extreme. Why, DC? I know that the Nolan movies really pulled out the crowds and those were bleak, but it is nice to know that DC didn't really forget its heritage. There's so much love for the old characters in this movie. Sure, it comes out in the form of jabs. But those jabs are so clever and fun. When I saw the Challengers of the Unknown, I nearly lost it. (I'm lo-key advertising that I'm one of the nerds who knew who they were before the explanation.) But the movie is this great satire about nerd culture today. It is so aware of what nerdy obsession has becoming. It discusses how the underground became the mainstream. It's commentary on the Marvel / DC film feud is also almost cathartic. That cameo is pretty outstanding and I love the fact that DC can call out stuff like Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool without fear of retribution. Marvel used to call DC the "Distinguished Competition" and Teen Titans Go! to the Movies reminds us that we shouldn't always be so serious about our love for superheroes. Instead of the toxic culture that can kind of surround our loves, the movie stresses that comic books are kind of meant to be fun and taken loosely. There is no continuity to the Teen Titans Go! characters and that makes for freeing storytelling. Yeah, it's good to get invested, but that's only if you can laugh at yourself.
Teen Titans Go! to the Movies is more fun than it has any right to be. It is great for everyone, but really sells itself well to the hardcore comic book fans. The story is the right amount of fluff that I needed from time to time. Yeah, I know movies like Aquaman are out there right now. But honestly, I was more excited to see this one instead of Aquaman. That being said, why haven't I seen Aquaman yet?
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.