In a world of serious cinematic superheroes, there’s one team who save the day and save room for dessert. Cue awesome dramatic music. Enter Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, a big screen outing for the stars of the Cartoon Network show.
Launched in 2013, Teen Titans Go!’s 200-plus episodes see the Titans (Robin, Starfire, Cyborg, Beast Boy and Raven) prioritise snacks over crime-fighting in a show that rips up continuity to make room for more jokes. To some, Teen Titans Go! is their first introduction to DC’s roster of superheroes through all-out comedy and fart jokes. To others, the show is a travesty that makes light of its source material. Regardless, Teen Titans Go! has been a huge success for Cartoon Network and Warner Bros Animation. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies doesn’t stray too far from the tone of the series with the extended runtime used for jokes and mischief.
As superheroes continue to rule the box office, it seems that every one of them has their own movie. All that is except the Teen Titans. Superman, Wonder Woman and other heroes consider the Titans to be more interested in goofing around than being an effective superhero team.
Upset that even Alfred and the Batmobile have movies and he doesn’t, Robin (the Titans de-facto leader) is determined to prove that he is indeed a superhero and not just a sidekick. Robin and the other Titans head to Hollywood to get a movie and the respect they deserve from other superheroes. To succeed, they must find an arch-nemesis to defeat in a dance-off or a more conventional fight. Their adversary, Slade, has plans for global domination that only the Teen Titans can stop if they manage not to be distracted by food.
That’s about it in terms of plot. Teen Titans is a pretty straightforward film designed to occupy an audience of 2-11 years old. Instead of plot twists, there are musical interludes, pop culture parodies and more fourth-wall breaks than Deadpool himself. After all, this is a film where being rad powers time travel bicycles while A-Ha’s Take on Me plays in the background.
It’s a good move for the film to use the same voice cast for the Titans as the TV show with Scott Menville, Khary Payton, Tara Strong, Greg Cipes and Hynden Walch reprising their roles. The supporting cast includes the voices of Will Arnett, Patton Oswalt and Kristen Bell. One of the Easter eggs for adults is Nicolas Cage finally getting to play the Man of Steel, 20 years after he was supposed to play Superman in Tim Burton’s abandoned take on the character. If that wasn’t enough, Michael Bolton helps to sing an upbeat inspirational song about life (actual song title). There’s even a Stan Lee cameo in a movie featuring DC characters.
Teen Titans isn’t bothered to compete against the standard set by Pixar. Instead, the focus here is on silliness with minute-long fart jokes, balloon monsters and shenanigans designed to make kids laugh out loud while adults enjoy the odd chuckle. There’s also a strong meta streak running through proceedings with parodies and references to the genre’s conventions. DC is mercilessly mocked. Marvel and Disney don’t get off much lighter.
Teen Titans Go shows that DC superhero films don’t have to grim, gritty and humourless like some recent live-action outings. They can be absurd, zingy and entertaining. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is refreshing because it revels in its own mischievous absurdity.
On a more serious note, the world also needs films that focus on Batman’s butler, Alfred and the Batmobile. Take note, Hollywood.