When the first trailer for Teen Titans Go! was revealed, I found myself wildly excited for the possibilities of this WB animated picture. It had seemed like DC’s interpretation on the fourth-wall-breaking Deadpool and had many fans hampering for its release. Fortunately, following an advance press screening of the film that I have just attended, the film ultimately accomplishes moderately well on its selling point. It delivers fourth-wall-breaking jokes, some even directed straight at the audience, that constantly hit and deliver constant eruptions amounts of laughter. However, while the film is charming and hilarious in both its cartoony art style and savvy humor, it can’t really decide what it is: a comedy directed at the comic book audience or a kid-friendly animated film. As a result, the film sums up to be confusing, shockingly shallow, and over-reliant of the audience’s knowledge of its source material.
As mentioned previously, the sheer brilliance of the humor cannot be understated. There are some excellent jokes on display, some even poking fun at DC’s opposition, Marvel. They keep the audience on edge and are easily the best aspect of the entire film throughout its 83-minute run time. However, the jokes aren’t entirely original. Most, if not all of the jokes, have been used sometime in either the original Deadpool or its sequel. As a result, the film comes off as funny and charming, but never causes the insane eruptions of laughter that Fox’s two bold superhero films did.
In addition to the enjoyable humor, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is also faithfully respectful to its original source material. The animation style is identical to that of the original TV show and the film also features the same brash storytelling that made the show iconic for both children and fans. However, at times, it feels almost too reliant on its source material. Rather than using it as a platform to deliver outstanding jokes and sequences, the film opts for a more necessity-based approach. As the film rockets into an incredibly fast pace, any audience member who has not watched the original TV show will find themselves both disconnected from the story and jolted. The film goes at such a fast pace that it becomes nearly impossible to stay connected with the outlandish story outside of the occasional excellent fourth-wall-breaking joke. Ultimately, it discerns the storytelling, even if it is line with previous iterations of the TV show. TV episodes and films are two different mediums and it is clear that the filmmakers behind the vision have respect for the original source material. But by failing to recognize what makes film different from TV episodes, Teen Titans Go! becomes a shallow, outlandish and overall ridiculous screenplay that doesn’t ever truly justify the emotions that it attempts to display on screen.
As for its actual story and plot, something truly revolutionary and unique is on display for better or worse. Within its staggeringly short runtime, the film is both ridiculous and outlandish. Predictable and foreseeable events occur at a monstrously rate, confusing new audience members but delighting hardcore fanatics. It is certainly a refreshing way of storytelling in the superhero genre, in contrast to films like Avengers: Infinity War and Justice League where deep, serious storytelling is trying to be done.
However, while the film is refreshing in both its design and its storytelling, the film ultimately feels like a mess, similar to how recent summer blockbusters like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Ant-Man and the Wasp fared. It’s trying to be two separate films: a children’s film and the comic book fanatic’s comedy. As a result, by trying to be the other film, it compromises itself and shows just how flawed the storytelling actually is. While the fourth-wall-breaking jokes are hilarious, there are certain jokes clearly directed at children littered, and sometimes hammered, throughout the film. These jokes, most of them weak and clichéd, incoherent with the other jokes in the film. It ultimately makes the film feel like two separate things that are trying to act as one whole unit, but falls apart due to its lackluster rigging.
In regards to how faithful the film is to the TV show in its screenplay, it should come as no surprise that its animation style is just as loyal. Every frame and sequence feels meticulously designed to recreate the show, even down to subtle details like hair and eye animation. It feels like another episode of the TV show which should please long-time fans. All the animators working on the film should be commended for how little distinction can be made from the film to the show in its artistic style.
While the screenplay bears some critical issues, the performances of the main cast do some excellent work here. Will Arnett is fantastic and memorable as Deathstroke or Slade, delivering an iconic performance that rivals some of his work in the LEGO films. The original cast from the TV show help bring out the authenticity of the film and do some memorable work in addition to Arnett. They ultimately sell the sheer lunacy and somewhat fun nature of the film, making it a ride that is mixed but overall an enjoyable one.
As a whole, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies never does anything original or revolutionary for the ever-growing superhero genre, but it accomplishes at what it sets out to be…an entertaining if highly flawed ride that succeeds on its cast and fourth-wall-breaking jokes. Any fans of the original TV show should flock to see the animated film when it hits theaters on July 27th, and they will be relatively pleased with how authentic the filmmakers are with the source material. But newcomers to the series and world of the cartoon should be aware of the brash nature of the film, that may prove faithful to what it comes from but causes detrimental issues that compromise the experience.
Score: 5.2 out of 10
When the Teen Titans go to the big screen, they go big! "Teen Titans GO! to the Movies" finds our egocentric, wildly satirical Super Heroes in their first feature film extravaganza - a fresh, gleefully clever, kid-appropriately crass and tongue-in-cheek play on the superhero genre, complete with musical numbers. It seems to the Teens that all the major superheroes out there are starring in their own movies everyone but the Teen Titans, that is! But de facto leader Robin is determined to remedy the situation, and be seen as a star instead of a sidekick. If only they could get the hottest Hollywood film director to notice them. With a few madcap ideas and a song in their heart, the Teen Titans head to Tinsel Town, certain to pull off their dream. But when the group is radically misdirected by a seriously super villain and his maniacal plan to take over the Earth, things really go awry. The team finds their friendship and their fighting spirit failing, putting the very fate of the Teen Titans themselves on the line!