[Screen It]


(2018) (voices of Scott Menville and Tara Strong) (PG)

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Animated Action: A group of extraordinary teens attempt to gain respect in the superhero world by defeating a megalomaniac and securing a movie deal in Hollywood.
The Teen Titans are a group of mostly sidekicks to superheroes such as Superman (voice of NICOLAS CAGE) and Wonder Woman (voice of HALSEY). But they want to be more, if only the world could take them more seriously. First, though, they have to learn to take life and themselves more seriously. There's Robin (voice of SCOTT MENVILLE), the youthful ward of Batman (voice of JIMMY KIMMEL) who can never move out of his shadow. Raven (voice of TARA STRONG) is a young woman who can open portals to other dimensions. Cyborg (voice of KHARY PAYTON) is a technology-enhanced teen boy who can fire missiles and employ rocket boosters to fly. Beast Boy (voice of GREG CIPES) is a shape-shifter who can transform into virtually any animal, bird, or fish. And Starfire (voice of HYNDEN WALCH) is a teenage girl who can harness energy and fire laser beams and power bursts from her hands.

Robin becomes obsessed with getting a Hollywood movie made about him that would also feature the other Titans. He's convinced that is the only way the world will see him and his friends as legit. This coincides with the arrival of a new super villain who Robin tries to make the Teen Titans' arch-enemy to make them more "marketable" for big-screen Hollywood filmmaker Jade Wilson (voice of KRISTEN BELL).

The bad guy is Slade (voice of WILL ARNETT), who has a bit of an identity problem of his own as his costume and weaponry remind most people of Deadpool. But with the main superheroes too focused on their film deals, Slade is able to slip under the radar, use Robin's ego against him, steal a potent energy crystal, and use it to power a mind-control device that has the ability to enslave the world's population via a new content streaming service. The Teen Titans are ultimately the only ones who can stop him.

OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
Superhero cinema is SO ripe for skewering right now. For the past couple of years, there has been at least one (often more) Marvel or DC Comics movie playing at your local cineplex one any given day. The Zucker brothers are past their prime to do the proper parody. The Wayans brothers have other interests.

Surprisingly, some of the best riffs on this genre have been coming from the production houses themselves. "Deadpool" is not officially part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But he's ripped from the Marvel comic books of recent decades, and Ryan Reynolds as the character rags on the full spectrum of superhero films amidst his series' R-rated violence and mayhem. The "Ant-Man" movies, meanwhile, have each been positioned as light comedies to take the edge off the more serious-minded "Avengers" and "Black Panther" efforts.

DC Comics movies are well below Marvel in quality, mostly because the flicks so far -- save for "Wonder Woman" -- have been mostly dark, gritty, big-screen tragic offerings. But DC has also been responsible for licensing out two of the funniest takes on all things Pow! Boom! Bam! A couple of years back, "The Lego Batman Movie" sent up the Caped Crusader and his many big-screen incarnations with great wit and flair. And now "Teen Titans Go! To the Movies" takes the skewering up at least two more notches in not only goofing on superhero flicks, but also on the movie industry itself and its overt worship of the genre as a money-making enterprise.

Based on the popular Cartoon Network series, this new animated action-comedy finds the Teen Titans -- a group of young heroes with powers and abilities who are often relegated to sidekick status -- trying to be seen as legitimate superheroes. The Titans are led by Robin (voice of Scott Menville), the Boy Wonder partner of Batman himself who has grown tired of his mentor getting movie after movie while he waits for Tinseltown to call make him an offer for a standalone movie.

The other Teen Titans -- Cyborg (voice of Khary Payton), Raven (voice of Tara Strong), Starfire (voice of Hynden Walch), and Beast Boy (voice of Greg Cipes) -- all support him on his quest for Hollywood stardom because that will make them legit, too. What the Teen Titans lack is a bona fide arch nemesis, like Superman's Lex Luthor, Batman's Joker, and so on. They find one in the form of Slade (voice of Will Arnett), who aims to steal a special power crystal from Star Labs to power a machine that will allow him to mind control the entire planet.

The cleverness of the screenplay does not wane throughout, nor do the cutting one-liners and surprisingly edgy humor. Slade's mind-control device is in the form of a new content streaming service that will feature all of the superhero movies ever made and those going into future production. Since the planet is in love with all things superhero, it will be easy to take control of wide swaths of the population and have them do his evil bidding. The world depicted in this movie is one where the actual superheroes star in their own movies. So, their focus has gotten to the point where Superman, The Flash, Aquaman, and the others pursue the next three-picture deal more than they pursue the latest megalomaniac.

Robin and Co., meanwhile, look to get onto the Warner Bros. backlot and secure a movie deal any way they can. They even jump in time machines and travel back to the past to undo the various superheroes' origin stories in some of the funniest moments of the film. But when they return to the present and realize the world has been taken over by supervillains, they have to undo what they previously did with more time travel -- like no longer stopping Krypton from blowing up, pointing the Wayne family once again down the wrong alley ("And here, wear this pearl necklace, Mrs. Wayne!"), etc.

The film's action isn't nearly as eye-popping and intense as "The Incredibles 2." And that Pixar film had the one-two punch of not only riffing on comic-book lore, but also suburban family dramas. "Teen Titans GO To the Movies" goes solely for today's oversaturation of superheroes and jabs it for all its worth. In-jokes, Easter eggs, and background details abound throughout. I highly enjoyed this film and rate it a very entertaining 7 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed July 21, 2018 / Posted July 27, 2018

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