POW! WHAM! KRUNCH! THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE has it all including the above “random punch phrases that materialize out of nowhere!” This spin-off to 2014’s THE LEGO MOVIE is directed by Chris McKay who served as the predecessor’s co-director. McKay knows his way around parody having directed three seasons of Robot Chicken. Not only is there a great heartwarming story, but loads of irreverent references for Batman fans of every generation. While these Easter eggs will go over the heads of the key audience, adults will look forward to what nostalgic nerve is struck next. Thank you to Warner Bros. Pictures for inviting us to the critics’ screening, and continue reading for THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE review.
The LEGO BATMAN MOVIE finds Batman (reprised brilliantly by Will Arnett) struggling with an inner conflict. He wants to remain a lone vigilante but goes home to a big empty batcave and delves into rom-coms. However, The Joker (voiced by Zach Galifianakis) threatens to take down Gotham City with dozens of second-rate bad guys made famous in the 1966 TV series. But when the Clown Prince of Crime realizes he’s not affecting his arch-nemisis on a personal Jerry MaGuire “you complete me” level, he ups the ante by calling on a new team from Superman’s intergalactic jail known as the Phantom Zone.
This movie is so much fun while mocking itself, superhero films and males who have trouble committing. We find ourselves laughing at a lonely vigilante who tries so hard to distant himself from others as he still secretly grieves over the loss of his parents. However, he’s starting to struggle with the fact that he needs help from others. While eyeing the vivacious Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) who is being appointed as the new Gotham commissioner, Bruce accidentally adopts an excitable orphan boy named Dick Grayson (Arnett’s Arrested Development costar Michael Cera) who idolizes him. Before he even knows what is going on, Batman/Bruce slowly builds the family he’s been longing for.
“Can he actually be happy?” asks director McKay of Batman. “Can he still function as a superhero but also learn to enjoy himself and learn to work with other people? Let’s force him into a situation where he has to confront these issues and see how he does.”
“Batman works alone. That’s my motto. Copyright Batman!” says Batman. He tries very hard to convince himself that he doesn’t need anyone, but when he stumbles upon a social engagement he should’ve been invited to (no spoilers, but it is hilarious) he’s hit with a hard reality. He realizes that maybe people don’t need, or want him either. This probably wouldn’t have hit him so hard if it didn’t come right after Barbara Gordon announced that her new plan for Gotham City is to make Batman part of the police force so those upholding the law are all on the same page. This pushes way too many buttons for Batman/Bruce since he loves saving the day himself and loves that the people love him and only him. He needs and craves that attention as long as his admirers don’t get too close.
There’s something ironic about seeing these colorful plastic toy bricks going through such emotion. When Batman tries to make the most of his lonely life, we know how sad he really is. The minimalistic animation still comes through even behind the cowl that for some reason Bruce never takes off even when he’s relaxing at home. The action scenes even look as if they were animated through a child’s point of view as he or she play with their LEGO playsets. They’re dizzying, defy logic but who cares? We are here to have fun. Batman constantly gives a wink and a nod to the audience so you know the filmmakers are here to have as much fun as we are and it shows.
As heavy as the plot sounds with Bruce/Batman’s agonizing loneliness, this is tailor-made for kids who love Superheroes, LEGO’s and video games. Adults will love the parody of the comic and pop culture worlds that hits a bullseye every time. Will Arnett’s low-toned gravelly voice is a perfect callback to the texture made famous by Michael Keaton in 1989’s Batman. But for me, the perfect piece of nostalgic was the shark repellent spray that Batman happened to have in his utility belt in his 1966 film. These filmmakers really know the source material and it shows. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, as there are so many more references from the 1940’s serials all the way up to last summer’s Suicide Squad.
At a running time of one hour forty-six minutes, there is never a dull moment. Although a second act battle could have been a little shorter since a climactic showdown was right around the corner. I have to admit, when I first heard that this film was being made I rolled my eyes. LEGO Batman worked in the LEGO Movie but could he sustain a whole film without wearing out his welcome after the first 22 minutes? I went in with an open mind and I was hooked after the first bit of narration from Batman about how serious movies start with a black screen then mocking the various production companies that brought this film to the big screen. I had just as much fun as the 8-year old kid sitting next to me. Now I want a sequel. I would even look forward to a LEGO Batman v LEGO Superman Movie!
Final verdict: Everything is awesome in this film that will surely be a Brick-Buster!
A Warner Bros. Pictures presentation, THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE opens in theaters on Friday, February 10, 2017. It will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company. Are you looking forward to the film? Let us know in the comments below. For more family movie news, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.