TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES review

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Well, here’s something I never would have anticipated in a thousand years. Okay, maybe a feature-length movie about the Teen Titans Go! property wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination, but it would have been more likely to see it as a CartoonNetwork hour-long special. Not a full-on ninety minute feature with a wide release. Certainly the previous animated Teen Titans would have been more deserving. But hey, whatever makes money, I suppose.

So, let’s talk history. The Teen Titans were, of course, a comic book that made its debut in 1964, usually featuring the sidekicks of famous Justice League heroes. Robin was Batman’s, Wonder Girl was Wonder Woman’s, Kid Flash, among others. If I’m not mistaken, the Teen Titans, and their eventual relaunches as the New Teen Titans, and Titans, are among DC comic’s best selling properties.

Though the Teen Titans haven’t had a live-action outing yet (and we’re not talking about the awful-looking TITANS [2018] TV show later this year), they’ve enjoyed a lot more success in CartoonNetwork, hence my previous comment. The first iteration of the show first came out in 2003 until 2006 and was very popular. It was certainly one of my favorites as a teen. It struck a near-perfect balance of compelling storytelling, dark themes, as well as some trippy goof-ball episodes. It was mature when it wanted to be, it was funny when it needed to be, had great characters, and was just a great show overall. Though it would take seven years for the Teen Titans to get a reboot, of sorts, there have been other shows that continued the legacy in their own rights. The criminally underrated YOUNG JUSTICE (2010) has been canceled and revived time and again with a ferociously strong fanbase constantly demanding a revival, which I think worked as the third season is coming out this year, if not already.

But let’s face it, those properties aren’t getting a movie. TEEN TITANS GO! is. This show was… shall we say… more popular, but not because of the previous loyal fanbase. Making its debut in 2013, this new iteration retained its original voice cast, but the premise of the show was far more kid friendly and was a comedy show, a far cry from the occasionally-darker previous version and has been going strong ever since. Fans of the original series have not been kind. Me on the other hand… I liked it. Yeah, I’m going to be the Devil’s advocate, I found the show to be humorous. No, it’s not anything ground-breaking and I do miss the original show terribly, but I did think a lot of the comedy landed. It’s cute enough and I can see where the popularity comes from. And not that I keep an eye on a TV show’s ratings or anything, but I think I can safely say that if this show has lasted five years, two years longer than the original, then it must be doing something right. At the very least, its ratings probably trample the original. Ain’t saying it’s better, but I’m saying it’s more successful. A movie was likely bound to happen.

The story looks like Robin wanting a movie made about him and his team, since everyone else is getting their own. But no one takes him and his team seriously, so they’re rejected. However, they think having an arch-nemesis will legitimize them and in comes Slade, who gets his hands on a mind control device and controls DC’s greatest heroes and pits them against the Titans.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have veteran Teen Titan voice actors, Scott Menville (FULLER HOUSE [2016 – ongoing] and FULL HOUSE [1987 – 1995] – as Duane, the “Whatever” guy), Tara Strong (HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3 [2018] and MY LITTLE PONY [2017]), Greg Cipes (FAST & FURIOUS [2009] and PLEDGE THIS! [2006], and the upcoming SHE’S IN PORTLAND [2019]), Khary Payton (YOUNG JUSTICE [2010 – ongoing]), and Hynden Walch (DRILLBIT TAYLOR [2008] and JUSTICE LEAGUE: WAR [2014]). In support, we have Will Arnett (SHOW DOGS [2018], LEGO BATMAN [2017], TMNT: OUT OF THE SHADOWS [2016], and the upcoming THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART [2019]), Nicolas Cage (SNOWDEN [2016], and upcoming films BETWEEN WORLDS [2018] and SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE [2018]), Kristen Bell (BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS [2017], THE BOSS [2016], and upcoming films RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2 [2018] and FROZEN 2 [2019]), Patton Oswalt (SORRY TO BOTHER YOU [2018], THE CIRCLE [2017], KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES [2016], and the upcoming THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 [2019]), and Jimmy Kimmel (BRAD’S STATUS [2017]).

Now for the crew. Co-directing, we have Peter Rida Michail, known for TEEN TITANS GO!. His co-director, as well as the co-writer for the movie is Aaron Horvath, known for TEEN TITANS GO!. Horvath’s partner-in-pen is Michael Jelenic, known for BATMAN: RETURN OF THE CAPED CRUSADERS (2016) and WONDER WOMAN (2009). Composing the score is Jared Faber, known for AS TOLD BY GINGER (2000 – 2006), and the upcoming BENCHED (2018). Finally, the editor is Nick Kenway, known for PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR (2014), 9 (2009), and the upcoming THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: IT’S A WONDERFUL SPONGE (2020). 

Overall, call me part of the problem, but I’m kind of looking forward to this. I do concede to the notion that it’s either going to be really funny, or really not. But hear me out on this. Doesn’t this kind of look like it’s going the way of THE MUPPETS (2011)? Think about it, much of the movie is reminding audiences of how popular they once were, but are now kind of an afterthought. It was a very self-aware movie. That’s exactly the impression I’m getting here. It’s going to make fun of DC movies and itself. Self-deprecating and self-aware humor is usually a one-way trip to my funny bone. So really, yeah, I’m excited.

This is my honest opinion of: TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES

 

(SUMMARY)

Robin (Scott Menville) has always believed that he was a great superhero worthy of having his own movie like all of the other superheroes. However, the rest of the superheroes and the rest of the world don’t take them seriously as they don’t really save the day or effectively stop crime. Despite his Titans friends trying to cheer him up, it’s decided that they need an arch-nemesis to legitimize them, and that comes in the form of Slade (Will Arnett).

(REVIEW)

Hmm… well, it’s not that bad, but… still kind of disappointing. I have no idea why I hyped myself up for this, but that might have been a little short-sighted of me.

The greatest strength of the show was its humor and occasional self-awareness. To this movie’s credit, it’s there and can occasionally be funny. But it’s like for every good, well thought out, or otherwise amusing joke, there’s a fart or poop joke, which are incredibly unfunny, and there’s plenty of them.

Some humor that I enjoyed… DC’s opening animation logo has been modified to the cartoon animation. I thought that was a cute change. The self-aware jokes are there. Like when the Titans are rapping about who they are, Balloon Man (Greg Davies) ignores them and continues to steal things and is thwarted by the arrival of Superman (Nicolas Cage), Wonder Woman (Halsey), and Green Lantern (Lil Yachty), and the Titans are still singing, and reminded by their veteran peers that they aren’t the best superheroes around. That stuff was pretty funny. Some of the humor is even crazy dark. Robin has this dream sequence about him being a promising new hero, recreated by the opening of THE LION KING, and he’s basically Simba and Batman is Rafiki. But the other heroes don’t like the idea and Batman throws baby Robin off the cliff. It’s screwed up, but I’d be lying if I didn’t enjoy it.

That’s actually the movie’s strangest strength. It has a ton of weird set-ups that lead to a funny pay-off. There’s a road trip musical montage with a whole new animation style featuring a singing cat playing a guitar, and this ends with the cat getting run over by their car. It’s a completely bizarre, and even awkward start to something, but the end of it somehow got me to laugh. This happens more than a few times and somehow works.

But I can’t say that’s the entirety of the movie’s humor, as some of it is really annoying.

I think one of the benefits of enjoying this movie as much as I did was not really being too aware of the changes made to the characters in GO! as opposed to the original show’s. For example, yes, Starfire (Hynden Walch) is not always aware of what was socially acceptable. I mean, slurping mustard through a straw, mistaking it for a beverage and not a sauce, she gets pretty out there with her misunderstandings. Pizza with anchovies, bananas, and mint frosting… yeesh. But this quirk was amped up to a million in GO!, or at least, I assume so given how many times she does it in this movie. Also, Beast Boy (Greg Cipes) and his constant, “bruhs” and consistent not-really-how-teens-talk lingo started to grate on me a lot.

***SPOILERS***

 

 

 

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I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t see the whole Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell) twist coming. I assumed she was going to be his daughter, or some other relation. Because… well, Slade’s real name is Deathstroke in the comics and most other forms of media, and his alter ego’s name is Slade Wilson. But nope, he is literally dressed as a lady. Didn’t see that coming. Props to playing with my expectations, movie. Well-played.

 

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***END SPOILERS***

Overall, this is about as mixed of a bad as it gets. Some of the humor lands. When it’s being self-referential, poking fun at itself, and even when the darker humor rolls around, that’s when the movie is at its best. And I do appreciate some of the nods to real life. For example, the kids of this generation may not know Nicolas Cage, let alone that he was going to be Superman once, but was ultimately cancelled. So I guess he got to play Superman one way or another. Also, it was teased that if this movie did well, the creators may be able to resurrect the original show. But there are way too many song and dance numbers, when the humor isn’t funny, it’s irritating. Really irritating, and that’s half the movie. Also, let’s face it, this is basically a feature-film version season one’s episode fifteen “Starfire the Terrible,” which has a depressed Robin realizing that he doesn’t have an archenemy. The only difference is that instead of Starfire playing the part to cheer him up, it’s legitimately Slade. For what it is, it’s harmless and kids will likely get a kick out of it, especially if they’re fans of the show. As a recommendation, yeah, take your kids to see it. Adults will get some of the humor, but it’s a chore to sit through when they don’t. They may not be able to save the world, but here’s hoping success saves the original show.

My honest rating for TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES: 3/5

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