Director: Peter Rida Michail, Aaron Horvath Starring: Scott Menville, Greg Cipes, Tara Strong, Khary Payton, Hynden Walch, Will Arnett, Kristen Bell, Nicholas Cage Running Time: 88 minutes
You’re not a real superhero until you get your own movie. In the time since this big screen adaptation of the Cartoon Network series Teen Titans Go! was being written many dozens more superhero TV series and movies have been announced, not least because the DC Universe is getting its own streaming service. We all know the market is flooded, but in the middle of that flood saving the day, or possibly yelling “cannonball!” and jumping right in is Teen Titans! Go to the Movies, a self-aware sugar rush that shows superheroes don’t have to be “mature” to be fun, a lesson DC could learn even about these same characters.
The Titans of Go! truly aren’t your dad’s superheroes, in the sense that your dad would probably be really irritated by the loud, silly antics of these younger versions of Robin, Cyborg, Raven, Starfire and Beast Boy. They’re the type of heroes that get distracted rapping their own theme song while fighting a supervillain, or falling about laughing at a fart noise instead of brooding about dead parents. The show has caught criticism from some fans for being so relentlessly jokey and childish in comparison to more serious version of Teen Titans, but the show has succeeded so well and now the movie benefits likewise because the jokes are just very funny. From rapid-fire toilet humour to elaborate musical numbers with Michael Bolton and a pile of deep-cut comics references, the effort to stuffing this film with so many jokes to make sure that the kids watching bust a gut laughing at least once is as applaudable as it is successful.
The Deadpool movies have been praised for their meta-humour, but Teen Titans pushes that even further and brings superhero movies down a deserved peg with it. The grim and gritty nature of DC movies is always ripe for a takedown, but even Marvel can get ludicrously po-faced even when they’re insisting that they’re in on the joke and we’re all laughing together. The premise here is that the Titans become determined to get their own movie so that they’ll be taken seriously like the older heroes, and know that to do that they’ll need to get their own arch-nemesis. They try to take down the villain Slade Wilson while elbowing their way into this world’s version of Hollywood and the good books of the director Jade Wilson (nothing suspicious there to the scatterbrained supers), who makes every heroes’ movie. There’s a sinister monopoly involved and the market is so saturated that even Alfred gets his own movie, so pretty much our version of Hollywood.
Even in the film’s short run time there’s little interest in keeping the plot tight, if it’s funny to go another direction for 2 minutes or 1o minutes then that’s where the film is going to go. For what’s basically an extra-long episode of a cartoon that’s no big deal, many of the best gags come from these diversions, like a trip into the past on time tricyles to prevent the superheroes tragic backstories. It doesn’t go well. The film is written and directed by old hands from the series, and they know what their audience wants. The animation is never going to be groundbreaking for a Cartoon Series: The Movie on a $10 million budget, but it’s bright and vibrant and keeps up with its characters, and is filled with delightful cameos and designs from artist Dan Hipp. Lofty it may not be, but it’s got Nicholas Cage as the voice of Superman, which might be the ultimate indicator of how little Teen Titans Go! to the Movies takes itself seriously. Very fun, very silly, this is a good time at the movies as long as you’re willing to Go! with it.(3.5 / 5)