Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Review: "Teen Titans Go! To The Movies" has a fun hook, but is ultimately too cute.

Teen Titans Go! To The Movies Review

It will come to no surprise that I have never watched an episode of "Teen Titans Go!" I am aware of the Teen Titans as a superhero group. I know the various characters and their powerbases, I have seen them in action. I know, like many DC properties, there have been about a thousand different cartoons and TV shows of these characters, so even trying to keep up with all of them can be a chore. I only have "Teen Titans Go! To The Movies" to judge the "Teen Titans Go!" cartoon. From what I saw from the movie, the Go! version of these characters are the cutsie-poo versions of these characters. 

See, that's the key to any family movie, even if it based on a pre-existing property. There is a fine line between being too cute and just being plain cute. Its a line that even giant studios like Dreamworks and Pixar can struggle to overcome. Yes, when a "family movie" is released, the target audience are the kids in this movie. But the best family movies ever made have always had something for everyone. Its the best ones that can have adults and children laughing in equal measure. It's not as much fun when the children are hysterically laughing and the adults are just checking their watches, hoping to get some kind of release after a long week at the office.

The original voices of "Teen Titans Go!" helm the voice work in "Teen Titans Go! To The Movies," and the voices include Greg Cipes as Beast Boy; who can shapeshift into different animals. Scott Menville as Robin; Batman's sidekick who is coming into his own as a superhero and leader. Khary Payton as Cyborg; who you may remember if you saw "Justice League" in November. Tara Strong as Raven; a half-human, half-demon lady-wizard. Finally, there is Hyden Walch as Starfire; who can fire bolts of energy. Will Arnett produced this film, and he provides the voice of Slade Wilson, AKA Deathstroke. The main adversary of the Titans, and who you will remember if you watch "Arrow" on the CW. Its totally different type of work if you remember Arnett's voice work as Batman in the recent LEGO movies. But Arnett makes it his own. The thing is, Deathstroke, no matter how hard you try, is a lame character for a cutsie cartoon movie. This is one of the most lethal people in the DC universe, and it feels off him steeling crystals and pouting kiddie one-liners.

The premise of the movie revolves around the Teen Titans trying to be recognized as a legitimate, and trustworthy superhero team. The only way to really do that is make it big in the movies. So the team tries during the movie to have one of their adventures be made into a movie. It may seem really on-the-nose as a metaphor, but it kind of works. I mean, B and C-class superheroes are now A-list characters thanks to movies. There are many Hollywood types who feel people may or may not be suffering from superhero fatigue in movies. There are some serious jokes to be made about the state of superheroes in movies and how we judge who is popular as a comic book character based on their movies. There are some quasi-funny jokes about "Batman vs. Superman" that made me cackle. But overall, this film feels like a missed opportunity. It could have really been a clever and undercover comment on the modern superhero movie and how its impacted Hollywood. Instead, its just another morality lesson, one that feels like it was made before. After all the kids movies being made, it feels like you can only make the same revelations so many times. So why not find a clever way to say something while hiding the lesson, like, say "The LEGO movies?"

I get it. This is meant for kids. There are songs and dancing that I am sure the average kid will enjoy. The songs abruptly stop, which I thought was weird, but then pick up later. But there is adventure and big action and fun moments. That is what a movie like "Teen Titans Go! To The Movies" is really all about and there are some things if you are a DC fan. Also if you know your cartoons, there is a interesting mid-credit scene. But other than that, this is a movie that feels too cute. The animation exaggerated to the point of being unreal. Plus, it just feels like a do-gooder moral lesson is one I've already learned. I know its important to be a good person and eat your vegetables. But after many movies of that, its time for some outside-the-box action.


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