The LEGO Batman Movie

 photo lego_batman_movie_ver4_zpsc1rro5mm.jpg photo starrating-3andahalfstars.jpgBack in 2014, Batman was introduced as a supporting role in The Lego Movie, an animated tale from Warner Bros. Now the Dark Knight has returned. Both his gravelly voice and out-sized ego are in full force in this humorous take that is his most (deliberately) funny manifestation yet. I still contend Joel Schumacher’s 1997 Batman & Robin is unintentionally funnier.  Director Chris McKay (Cartoon Network’s Robot Chicken), who worked as an editor on The Lego Movie, is making his feature film debut here and he maintains the buoyant quality of the first picture.

The Lego Batman Movie is a rollicking good time. The light and breezy humor pokes fun at its own creation. The pop culture amalgamation is steeped in self-aware satire. It relies heavily on Batman history and every incarnation he’s ever had. Not only sampling from Tim Burton’s and Christopher Nolan’s work but from comic books, the campy 60s TV show, and animated adaptations as well. Unless you’re a superhero savant, it should be impossible to correctly place all the references. I laughed at a part where they recite a ridiculously long list of villains.  The Riddler, Catwoman and the Penguin I knew, but Polka-Dot Man, Crazy Quilt, and the Condiment King? I chuckled at the seemingly made up names. I had no idea that they were all real characters. The joke is amusing either way.

If you thought the triumph of The Lego Movie was a fluke, prepare to be surprised once more. The Lego Batman Movie is another delight. It’s smart and witty in a way that everyone, even this comic book illiterate, can enjoy. Batman fights crime by night but by day he lives an ordinary existence. He retires to his living room to watch a live action projection of Jerry Maguire on a big screen while he eats his microwaved Lobster Thermidor. His computer assistant informs him he has an expired Bed Bath & Beyond coupon, “but I hear some stores will honor them after the expiration date,” she offers. That’s so random it’s genius. Listen closely for a mention of cheesy 80s martial arts flick Gymkata.

But The Lego Batman Movie is first and foremost about the Caped Crusader. He’s once again articulated by Will Arnett. His absurd rendition stands in stark contrast to the dark and brooding iterations of the cinematic adaptations since 1989. Nevertheless, his goofy performance ranks up there with the very best. It’s a clever choice that his Arrested Development co-star Michael Cera voices Robin. The cast is spirited.  Rosario Dawson is the new police commissioner, Barbara Gordon. Ralph Fiennes is Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler. Zach Galifianakis is the Joker. Even Mariah Carey plays a character. The whole production is agreeable fun. If there’s a quibble, it’s that the story is merely a perfunctory excuse to make wisecracks.  Even as the narrative sags in the 2nd half, the action continues to zoom forward in an increasingly eccentric fashion.  It plays for 15 minutes too long. Still, there are enough left-field references and rapid-fire gags to entertain. In fact, it’s tough to catch them all the first time around. I just might be willing to see it a second time.

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8 Responses to “The LEGO Batman Movie”

  1. smilingldsgirl Says:

    It really is hilarious! I want to see it again to catch all the jokes I missed. I agree about the story not being as great as the original film but how great is it to go to a DC movie and leave feeling completely happy!

  2. No substance, but a lot of style. Nowhere near as memorable as 2014’s LEGO movie, but that’s OK.

    • The winter period after the holiday season is generally a dumping ground for mediocre films. This was an exception. 3 years ago it was The LEGO Movie. This year it was The LEGO Batman Movie. Good fun.

  3. This was a lot of fun. I liked the Batman references from past and present casts. I had fun. 3 1/2

  4. I haven’t seen The Lego Batman Movie, but I’m sure you’re right that Batman & Robin is unintentionally funnier. Lego Batman sounds like a lot of fun. I had no idea that all those characters were real either! Like you say, the joke is amusing either way, and I think that’s the mark of a good comedy. Based on your description it seems like the voice actors are well cast too. A friend mentioned to me that there are so many jokes flying so fast that things get a little exhausting, and you seem to back that up to a degree, at least with regard to the length. Looking forward to seeing this movie. I’m sure I’m going to love it.

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