Film review: Teen Titans Go! To The Movies
With everyone from Jimmy Kimmel and Greg Davies to Nicholas Cage on voice-over duty and Michael Bolton singing the obligatory Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life (its actual title), Teen Titans Go! To The Movies simultaneously pokes fun and is fun, especially for Marvel and DC fans, writes Damon Smith
THE long-running animated TV series Teen Titans Go!, a tongue-in-cheek spin-off from the DC Comics universe, makes its big-screen debut with a grin-inducing flourish thanks to co-directors Peter Rida Michail and Aaron Horvath.
Teen Titans Go! To The Movies pokes gentle fun at the glut of superhero films, which clog up multiplexes and earnestly expand the mythologies of well-known characters torn from the pages of comic books.
A nimble script, co-written by the TV series' creators Michael Jelenic and Horvath, takes aim at predictable targets: the avoidable tragedies in superheroes' pasts, Stan Lee's obligatory cameos, that instantly forgettable Green Lantern film starring Ryan Reynolds.
Most of the punchlines elicit knowing giggles as a perfunctory plot sermonises the importance of teamwork and self-sacrifice to younger audiences.
Fleeting verbal gags, including a spoof of the Marvel Comics flip book title sequence, are complemented by knowing, self-referential dialogue that gleefully draws attention to the film's own shortcomings including a big reveal about the identity of the chief villain.
These barbs seldom draw blood. Michail and Horvath's film is gently effervescent escapism with modest ambitions and a jaunty soundtrack including a delightfully retro anthem of empowerment called Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life performed by the inimitable Michael Bolton.
The charmingly deluded Teen Titans, comprising Robin (voiced by Scott Menville), Starfire (Hynden Walch), Cyborg (Khary Payton), Beast Boy (voiced by Greg Cipes) and Raven (Tara Strong), proudly patrol the streets of Jump City.
The wannabes are too busy performing a song about their origins to vanquish a marauding inflatable menace called Balloon Man (Greg Davies), forcing Superman (Nicolas Cage), Wonder Woman (Halsey) and The Green Lantern (voiced by Lil' Yachty) to intervene.
"You're goofsters!" despairs the Man of Steel as the members of the Justice League depart to attend a movie premiere for their pal, Batman (Jimmy Kimmel).
The Teen Titans sneak into the screening and Robin is devastated to learn that Alfred the butler, the Batmobile and even Batman's utility belt will be getting standalone films directed by Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell).
"What are we missing?" rages Robin.
"An archnemesis!" surmises Raven and the Teen Titans decide that a masked thief called Slade (Will Arnett), who bears an uncanny resemblance to Deadpool, will fill that void and persuade director Jade to turn her cameras on Robin.
Teen Titans Go! To The Movies is lightly dusted with in-jokes for fans of the Marvel and DC Comics franchises but the tomfoolery doesn't alienate or exclude mainstream audiences.
Vocal performances are as lively as the animation. Casting Cage as Superman is an inspired move – the Oscar-winning actor was scheduled to don the flowing red and blue cape in Superman Lives in the late 1990s for director Tim Burton until the project was shelved.
Twenty years later, his proud Kryptonian crusader takes flight and out-muscles the faltering Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice.
TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES (PG, 88 mins) Animation/Action/Comedy. Featuring the voices of Scott Menville, Greg Cipes, Tara Strong, Hynden Walch, Khary Payton, Will Arnett, Kristen Bell, Nicolas Cage, Halsey, Lil' Yachty, Greg Davies, Jimmy Kimmel. Directors: Peter Rida Michail, Aaron Horvath
Released: August 3 (UK & Ireland)