As someone who’d never watched any of the various Teen Titans animated series, I had no idea what to expect sitting down for Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. Was this going to be a film made only for kids? Would it warrant its cinematic release? How funny or clever could it really be? The answers were both quick and gratifying.
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is not just for kids. It warrants its cinematic release a dozen times over, and it’s both very funny and very clever. Directed by Aaron Horvath and Peter Rida Michail, the film feels like an animated, PG-rated Deadpool. It’s very aware of what it is, it works on multiple levels, and it’s filled with all manner of audacious moments, references and jokes. Things you never thought possible because of rights issues (or maybe even due to good taste), it’s all in here. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies simply goes for it again and again, with excellent results.
In the film, the Titans (Robin, Raven, Beast Boy, Cyborg, and Starfire) are upset they don’t get a lot of respect. They’re in the same world as the Justice League and others but even though they’re also a kick-ass team of superheroes, their age and inexperience have seemingly held them back. Robin believes one way to change that would be to get his own movie. In his world (and ours, frankly) every superhero is getting a movie. Why not Batman’s most famous sidekick? So the team goes to Hollywood to try to become stars, but come face-to-face with their long-teased archenemy, Slade, making his TTG debut as a major villain (he’s had a few brief cameos on the show, but this is the first time he’s directly fighting the heroes).
The Justice League, as seen in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. And yes, they have plenty of DCEU jokes. Photo: Warner Bros.
Along the way, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies never stops surprising. There’s a lot of juvenile humour about farts and poop, but that’s largely overshadowed by even more inside baseball superhero and movie talk. It would be a sin to spoil too much of it but let’s just say fans of comic books, comic book movies, and all cinematic superhero universes are sure to find things in here they aren’t expecting to see or hear. The movie pushes boundaries further and further until this tiny, humorous, TV adaptation becomes a huge, cinema-worthy superhero experience with some truly excellent third act reveals and action sequences.
That’s not to say this isn’t still a movie for kids, though. The tone is always one of irreverence, and the filmmaking has a flashy, manic style to it, with a near excess of visual stimulation. At times, some of that can be a little hard to get your head around. But, once you do, there’s a lot to enjoy.
One place that dichotomy is well-illustrated is in the music. Yes, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is also kind of a musical. Several scenes in the movie centre on songs that are seemingly meant to both delight and slightly annoy. They’re successful on both counts. You will have them stuck in your head on your way home from the cinema.
The film’s villain is Deathstroke. Oh, sorry, “Slade.” But he’s excellent. Photo: Warner Bros.
In fact, that’s kind of Teen Titans Go! To the Movies in a nutshell. Yes, there are plenty of things about it that feel a little too cute, a little too aimed at a younger audience. But, of course, the movie is primarily aimed at that younger audience. It’s just a bonus that it works for adults, too. Plus, most of the younger content is evenly spread around a story that’s surprisingly smart, jokes that are as shocking as they are funny, and a liveliness that’s infectious. You may not love everything about Teen Titans Go! To the Movies but, by the end, it will likely win you over.
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies opens August 3rd.