I sometimes wonder how the TV show Teen Titans GO! came about. It is an often bizarre re-imagining of the Teen Titans series that premiered in 2003 and lasted for 5 seasons. The original series sometimes had bizarre moments, but it also took itself seriously. Somehow someone got the idea to take the kiddy humor of that series and make another series devoted entirely to that aspect and make the episodes only 11-15 minutes long. Apparently, the spin-off series is more successful than the original, because now it has a movie based on it. I do enjoy the Teen Titans GO! series, although sometimes it can get a little too silly for my taste.
Which brings us to the movie I’m reviewing. Here are 8 things I loved about Teen Titans GO! To the Movies…
1. IT’S BASICALLY DEADPOOL FOR KIDS. The Deadpool franchise is known for being ‘meta’ and breaking the fourth wall, meaning that it knows it’s a movie and winks at or even talks to the audience. And that’s exactly what Teen Titans GO! To the Movies is all about: it constantly references things that are in the real world and even other franchises like Marvel and Disney. It also does plenty of talking to the audience.
2. IT HAS MORE DC REFERENCES THAN I COULD COUNT. It references every major super-villain and superhero in the DC universe, and even more than a few of the obscure ones. There are puns in the movie posters and store names. And I’m proud to be admit that there wasn’t a single reference that I didn’t understand. I finally feel like all my deep DC knowledge paid off!
3. IT POKES FUN AT OTHER DC FILMS. I’m an unapologetic fan of the DCEU, but even I will admit that Justice League and Green Lantern were missed opportunities. And the movie has some great laughs at the expense of them.
4. IT KNOWS ITS AUDIENCE. It knows that its main audience is kids and includes lots of jokes that appeal to them exclusively. And it doesn’t shy away from its own absurdity.
5. IT FEATURES MICHAEL BOLTON SINGING AN INSPIRATIONAL SONG. Deadpool 2 used Celine Dion magnificently for a fantastic power ballad. Apparently the creators of Teen Titans GO! To the Movies decided they needed to do something similar by including Michael Bolton singing an inspirational song (no, I mean the song is literally titled ‘An Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life’). Unfortunately, he doesn’t play himself, but he definitely left his mark on the movie.
7. IT FINALLY FEATURES NICOLAS CAGE AS SUPERMAN. Not many know this, but Nicolas Cage was originally supposed to play Superman back in the 90’s when they were going to let Tim Burton take a stab at the character (and I mean that literally as well: they were going to kill Superman like they did in the comics). You can read about that here and see him in the Super Suit. Unfortunately that never happened, but the creators of GO! To the Movies decided it would be fantastically meta to have him be in their feature.
8. IT HAS SOME HUMOR JUST FOR ADULTS. Most great animated features have humor that kids won’t get, and this is no exception. There were times when I was laughing so hard I was crying and my children had no idea what I was laughing at. However, a lot of these gags, especially in the first act, are spoiled in the trailers for the movie, so I recommend staying away from them if you can.
And now for the things I didn’t love….
1. THE MOVIE FEATURES LOTS OF POTTY HUMOR. A good fart joke can go a long way, however they are increasingly difficult to pull off. The only one that I have enjoyed in the last 10 years or so was in The B.F.G. This movie features plenty of them and lots of other references to butts and bowel movements. They just feel cheap for me and detracted from my viewing experience.
2. THE WRITERS LET THE JOKES GO ON TOO LONG. Like I mentioned above, there are some brilliant jokes in the movie, yet some of them just don’t know when to end. Often the film will have an amazing gag but then it will just go on and on and on and wear out its welcome. And even some of the jokes will come back for more later in the film.
Teen Titans GO! To the Movies is a really funny and often clever film. I wish some of the jokes didn’t wear out their welcome and that the potty humor was less prevalent, otherwise it’s fun family fare. It feels very similar to The Lego Batman Movie, albeit vastly inferior. It also should be noted that my children thought this movie was the best thing they’d seen all year.