“The LEGO Batman Movie”
Batman was probably my favorite part of The LEGO Movie. Will Arnett was a perfect choice for the role with his gravelly voice and large charisma, and his writing from Phil Lord and Chris Miller was different from any Batman we’ve seen before. This is not the somber, brooding Batman we’ve seen time and time again, or the wacky, cheesy Batman we’ve seen a few times, but a parody of the brooding caped heroes that pop culture has become obsessed with over the past decade. He is a selfish, full of himself billionaire that hides his deep seated insecurities underneath a mask and a pile of money. I think back to the song he played in The LEGO Movie which had a line that went “Darkness! No parents! I’m super rich! Kind of makes it better!”
The LEGO Batman Movie, which is not written and directed by Lord and Miller, but Chris McKay (another collaborator on the aforementioned film), is a solo outing for the building block caped crusader. Taking place in Gotham City, another one of the realms atop Finn’s table, and including an entire comic book history’s worth of characters ranging from the likes of The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) to a villain known as Condiment King, and no, this is not made up. “It’s worth a Google,” as The Joker puts it.
This animated movie is also a bevy of pop culture references, especially that of the title character’s long running history. Luckily, I am well versed in my Batman mythology, so I was able to appreciate all of the little inside jokes that were thrown out there, but it may leave some struggling to keep up.
Like its predecessor, The LEGO Batman Movie is as quick-witted as they come. The dialogue comes at you a million miles an hour and does not wait for you to even finish chuckling after the last punchline. However, unlike its predecessor, The LEGO Batman Movie struggles to find a proper balance, and it becomes rather exhausting as the movie progresses. It almost becomes annoying how fast-paced it gets. At least no child will be bored during the showing.
The plot is in no way complex, it is actually quite flimsy, but it gets the job done. It would be unfair to compare it to the likes of The LEGO Movie, a film of enormous depth, but it is inevitable. Will Arnett’s Batman is still a delight and what the film succeeds in is character development. This interpretation of Batman, unlike the story he inhabits, is a layered character. A scene in which he returns to the Batcave to sit and eat his lobster alone, his voice echoing along the cave walls, is poignant, and by the end you feel happy for him because you truly saw a significant and touching change within his psyche.
Another element that both this and The LEGO Movie did well was its use of smaller moments in comparison to the larger jokes. These are family films that don’t pander to Hollywood’s perception of children as ignorant demographics that need everything spoonfed to them. Children can handle a lot more than most people give them credit for, and it is in small moments such as one where Batman pushes 20 minutes instead of two minutes on the microwave that shows this. It is an insignificant moment, but it was a moment that got one of the biggest laughs out of me. Then there are the fart and potty jokes that fill in the larger spaces, which, if done right, can be great fun.
Some are calling The LEGO Batman Movie a groundbreaking cinematic achievement or the best Batman movie since The Dark Knight. This couldn’t be farther from the truth for The LEGO Batman Movie is not even in the running for best Batman movie nor does it want to be. It is a parody, a spoof. It has as much a place within the list of Batman films as Scary Movie has within the list of horror films. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing, especially in this case, for LEGO Batman s a genuinely hilarious piece of satire. Within a world of Friedberg and Seltzer, it is evidence that spoofs can still work, but to claim that it is anything more would be an injustice. McKay doesn’t want you to compare it to the likes of The Dark Knight or Batman v Superman, and if you do, you’re missing the point.
3 out of 5