Director: Peter Rida Michail, Aaron Horvath
Screenplay: Michael Jelenic, Aaron Horvath
Starring: Greg Cipes, Scott Menville, Khary Payton, Tara Strong, Hynden Walch, Will Arnett, Kristen Bell
Runtime: 88 Minutes
The Teen Titans Go! animated series that has been running since 2013 is a comedic spin-off with little to no continuity to the previous 2003 series or any other media in the DC Comics franchise. Mostly positioned as a parody series self-reflectively digging itself for the character’s positions in their universe as well as the existence of the series itself, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies takes them a step further into a cinematic venue where the wealth of material to be exploited feels all the more relevant and deserved of roasting.
Mostly feeling like a child-friendly equivalent to Deadpool, the film parses outs its time along its narrative – in which a villain's maniacal plan for world domination side-tracks five teenage superheroes who dream of Hollywood stardom – throwing out sketches and knowing meta humour regarding its position as a cinematic DC and Warner Bros. property.
Much like The Lego Batman Movie, most of this might fly over the heads of the youngest audience members, but it primarily caters to them first as its story regarding the significance of friendship and teamwork underlines everything that happens. Some of the humour of which is very child oriented visually, with the script mostly picking up from the simplicity of the animation, while a majority of the dialogue jokes skew for the self-aware approach for older audiences.
It would be an absolute lie to say that the film is perfect or transcendent, but it’s an incredibly funny and reverent superhero film that set’s its aspirations humbly but comes at the comedy with lunatic levels of energy and insanity. From casting decisions such as Nicholas Cage as Superman, to clear parodies of Brando’s Jor-El and some of the most obscure minutia like Challengers of the Unknown. The humour goes so dark at certain points that it’s kind of amazing to see a film like this get away with gags most of its brethren wouldn’t dare, such as the hilariously dark punchline to the undoing of the superhero’s origin stories.
The hit to miss ratio is overwhelmingly in the former as it intentionally jabs at Warner Bros. inability to recognise the Teen Titans as legitimate and beloved characters, and greenlight any number of other spinoff films regardless of popularity or obscurity (although no joke will ever be as tragically funny as the reality of the mess that the DCEU still stands as).
The sheer amount of meta humour could be all means be seen as a massive cheat, with the same defensiveness disguised as humility approach that Disney has had too much of its recent material, but the cast and crew really try and sell it, it’s very fun and brisk to watch, the music is actually rather good and it’s still gratifying to see so many of the genre’s self-serious aspects getting so creativly skewered.