The LEGO Batman Movie
Distributed By: Warner Bros. Pictures
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When I first saw previews of the computer animated film, The LEGO Batman Movie, I thought, “Oh, how silly!” Then, I thought, “This must be a kids’ movie.” Then I said out loud, “Hey, this may be a kids’ movie, but I think it’s got just the kind of laughs I could use this week.” And so, we set out to see The LEGO Batman Movie…no kids in tow.
A spin-off of The LEGO Movie, this feature focuses on DC Comics character Batman (Will Arnett) as he fights crime in Gotham City. Batman’s ego is enormous and he takes himself very seriously. He lets us know this in every way, even from the first moments of the film as he explains why every good film begins with a black screen. He is used to the city of Gotham calling on him to save the day and expects nothing less. He goes on to battle The Joker (Zach Galifianakis), showing off his rock-hard abs of steel. In the process, Batman insults The Joker by suggesting he doesn’t need him to be the superhero he is. Of course, this only serves to spur The Joker to new heights of criminality.
Meanwhile, for the viewers it offers us some insight into who the real Batman/Bruce Wayne is. Despite all his boasting and proclaimed love for himself, Batman is actually a rather lonely individual who shuns relationships in an effort to keep himself from feeling the pain of loss he felt after his parents were murdered. He continually pushes anyone who tries to get close to him, including the man who raised him, his butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes).
When he attends the winter gala as Bruce Wayne, he discovers that Commissioner Jim Gordon (Hector Elizondo) is retiring and his daughter, Barbara (Rosario Dawson), is taking over. Taken by her striking beauty, Bruce is only half paying attention when he agrees to take in orphan Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) as his ward. But he is definitely listening when Barbara Gordon says that Gotham doesn’t need Batman to do their dirty work anymore. Batman doesn’t believe that Barbara’s future plans for the Gotham Police Force will work and believes he has to come up with a new plan to save his city. Taking a page from his nemesis Superman’s playbook, he decides to banish The Joker to The Phantom Zone.
Accompanied by his new sidekick, Dick Grayson, AKA: Robin, Batman sets out to steal the Phantom Zone Projector. But sending the Joker to The Phantom Zone doesn’t have the desired effect, and when Joker comes back with a new and more powerful villainous gang, Batman realizes he may have put the inhabitants of Gotham in more danger than they ever were in before.
Now, remember, we entered this theater with no kids in tow to watch an animated film made for kids. We were surrounded by parents and their children, all excited to see LEGO Batman. But I know damn well that most of the kids there weren’t getting some of the movie’s gags. Much like Shrek, The LEGO Batman Movie has a lot to offer for adult fans of the Batman comics, movies and television show. There are many allusions to the past Batman incarnations that adults will love. There is even allusion to Batman’s rivalry with Superman and there are references to the Superman adults will remember from the 70s and 80s films.
The movie teaches a lesson about meaningful relationships. Batman pushes people away to avoid being hurt. The lesson in this film is that sometimes you have to take the risk of getting close to someone to truly be alive. Friends and family help us become well-rounded and love is meant to be shared, not kept to oneself. It teaches this lesson in a way that will appeal to family members of all ages while still being fun. I love that they chose to make Dick Grayson appear a bit younger than he would be in the various Batman series. His naiveté is both funny and charming and I love those goggle eyes they give him when he is surprised or excited. I loved Batman trying to understand how to be a father as well.
I thought it was ingenious of the filmmakers to use other LEGO set villains to make up Joker’s new gang. King Kong, the Wicked Witch of the West and her flying monkeys, Doctor Who Daleks, the Kraken, the Eye of Sauron, Gremlins and Valdemort all make their appearance as formerly Phantom Zone-banished villains. The original villains working for Joker will all be rather familiar to the adults as well and I loved the references to Suicide Squad as well.
Batman going googly-eyed over Barbara is actually rather hilarious as is the betrayal he feels when she says the city doesn’t need Batman anymore. I enjoyed his run-throughs of costumes for her alterego. And his avoidance of emotional subjects by exercising was funny as well. I love the little jokes like Batman’s number two needing to go number one or the question about why certain Bat-vehicles are one-seaters.
I left The LEGO Batman Movie with an enormous grin on my face. It was a lot of fun and I found myself laughing out loud quite often. The musical score by Lorne Balfe was kickass and the songs were a mix of remade oldies and new pop fun. The animation was often hilarious. Who cares if I didn’t go to see this film with a kid? I had just as much fun as a solo adult!