The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)
PG | 1h 44min | Animation, Action, Adventure | 10 February 2017 (USA)
– Matt Mungle
Is The LEGO Batman Movie in essence a Deadpool movie for the whole family? Quite possibly. I know what you are thinking but hear me out before you make any rash decisions. Yes Deadpool was a one of a kind masterpiece that arrived just when we needed something to smash the stereotypical hero film we were all tired of seeing. I am not saying that LEGO Batman is innovative or a paradigm shift in super films. In fact it sort of borrows a lot from what made Deadpool succesful and doesn’t creatively break any new ground. But at its core it is just as silly, sarcastic, snide, and sardonic; but does it with a PG rating. That is not an easy task.
In this story they focus on Batman’s (voiced by Will Arnett) relationship issues. He is a lone wolf and has built a wall of 3001 bricks around his heart. He lives in a giant mansion spending evenings sad and alone. Even his most hated enemies can’t get him to admit how much he needs them. But when Gotham faces its greatest siege ever he might have to work as a team and learn the value of family.
Like Deadpool this film releases right at Valentine’s Day. Coincidence? I think not. Both movies have an emotional theme and this one certainly focus’ on the need of family, relationships, sacrifice, and opening ones self up for the possibility hurt. But the journey there is full of sarcasm and poking fun at everything in the DC Universe. Again, Deadpool made sport of the Marvel world and Batman takes the same shots at Superman, The Justice League, and a long list of others. But somehow the writers were able to deliver it in such a family friendly way. Sure Batman is sort of a tool. He says and does things that are inappropriate. The delivery and timing is just sly enough that older audiences get the joke for different reasons than the younger kids will. I have a 4 year old who laughed at the most ridiculous moments. But not because of the content of the joke but at the subtle use of words that make 4 year olds crack up.
Unlike the first LEGO movie this one is not designed as a LEGO film. Other than the fact that they are all LEGOs there isn’t much referenced. Batman builds a few things and there are bits of brand terminology mixed in but often you sort of forget. It is more about Batman and villains; as it should be. LEGO is just another medium now in which to tell a funny story. Would this film have worked had it been standard animation? I think so. There was nothing about the story or theme that would not have translated. It just looks cool having everything made of LEGOs. It is a newness that works.
This version of Robin is a wonderful addition to the mix. In the classic 1960’s version Dick Grayson was a smart, focused and energetic ward of Bruce Wayne. In this one he is a spastic and overly sensitive youngster who is bouncing off the wall and driving Batman nuts. Michael Cera was the perfect choice to voice this new Robin. His whiney voice and often annoying – yet endearing – tone give Robin a more prominent place in this film.
This film needs to be seen more than once in order to grasp everything that is going on. The cast of characters is so overwhelming that it is impossible to catch them all. And not just from the DC realm. Granted Joker (v-Zach Galifianakis), The Riddler (v-Conan O’Brien), and Bane (v-Doug Benson) are must have staples but there are iconic pop culture creatures from every universe and timeframe. It is fun to see them all but after a while you stop trying to keep up. You have to watch it more with a wide eye to take in the full scope of the scene instead of pinpointing certain smaller elements. Those will be fun to spot on the a rewatching.
Very safe to say that this is a film for the whole family. It is a tad long and the fore mentioned four year old started getting squirmy near the end. But the humor, visual, and story offer something for all ages. It was nice to see a lot of daddy daughter pairings as well as moms and sons. There is not a specific demo for a movie like this which will make it highly succesful. There are few things more iconic than Batman or LEGOs. So having them together is a powerful duo.
The LEGO Batman Movie is rated PG for rude humor and some action. Again there is very little that is intentionally mean spirited or overtly crude. The overwhelming message of family and relationship for surpass anything negative. I give it 3.5 out of 5 cowls. Could have been a bit shorter and not so inundated with extra faces but for the most part a fantastic family film that looks fabulous on the big screen.