Film

Superhero Spoof “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies” Rides the Coattails of Lazy Meta-Jokes

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The peppy but cynical animated superhero comedy Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is eager to flatter you, as so many of its lazy meta-reflexive jokes suggest.

Most of the gags in this pandering spoof are about their own schematic nature — they’re jokes about how you’re smarter than the jokes. The story follows insecure team leader Robin (voiced by Scott Menville) as he tries to convince insincere Hollywood exec Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell) that he deserves to star in his own film within the film. His plan to do so: ditching his super teammates and single-handedly defeating would-be arch-nemesis Slade (Will Arnett).

There’s an intentionally unmoving musical number titled “Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life” and lazy put-downs of recent flops like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Ryan Reynolds’s Green Lantern film. There’s also a manic tricycle-riding chase scored with a-ha’s “Take On Me” that only begins after Robin boasts that the Titans’ three-wheeled, time-traveling Time Cycles are “powered by radness,” a modest claim that the lame scene that follows unfortunately doesn’t bear out.

Too many other self-referential gags — save for harsh but accurate jokes about the flimsy backstories of the Justice League’s most prominent members — get in the way. That makes it hard for viewers to suspend their disbelief during contrived musical and action sequences that are, more important, uninspired and rushed. Even the slapdash finale — when the Teen Titans inevitably fight the Justice League — ends before Robin can finish delivering a canned speech about believing in yourself. “This isn’t that kind of movie,” he’s told, as if underlining a cliché was the same thing as avoiding one.

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
Directed by Peter Rida Michail and Aaron Horvath
Warner Bros.
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