The second film that I caught while catching up at the theatre this weekend was one that I was really looking forward to, The Lego Batman Movie. I thought that The Lego Movie was one of the most purely hilarious animated movies ever, and I also thought that Batman was one of the best characters in that whole film. So when Warner Brothers announced that, in addition to Batfleck, they’d be bringing us a solo Lego Batman movie, I was excited.
And wow, this movie was as stupid and heartfelt as I could’ve hoped. It’s very simple, and it’s very juvenile, but it’s also very sharp and clever. It never misses a beat, and most all of the laughs that are pitched to us are home runs. It’s hard to review the craft of kid’s film like this, with a story that’s pretty much aiming to be stupid and simple. When it accomplishes those things, but does so in such a tack sharp manner that offers a ton of fan service and adult laughs too, it’s hard to really ask for more. If you’re a Batman fan, then this movie is basically the spoof movie that you’ve always wanted. Imagine Spaceballs for Batman, with legos, and that’s The Lego Batman Movie.
A lot of the success of this movie can be attributed to the writing, which is perhaps the biggest strength of this movie. There are jokes upon jokes written into this script. Almost every minute of the runtime has a punchline, and almost all of the jokes are spot on. I was particularly impressed with the meta-humor that was written into the story, particularly references to Batman’s previous cinematic and televised endeavors. These range from blatant mentions of past movies to small hints at their stories that are “blink and you miss them” kind of jokes. For example, at the very beginning of the movie, the Joker is trying to reason with a citizen as to why he’ll successfully take over Gotham, and the citizen points out all of his various failed attempts that include “that time with the two boats” (from The Dark Knight) and “that weird parade with the Prince music” (from the original Batman movie with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson). In this way, the movie is very self aware, while also aiming high. It would be super easy for the writers of a Lego Batman movie to just write jokes for kids; which they do, but they also write jokes for Batman fans. If you’re a Batman fan with no kids or no small nieces or small nephews or small cousins, you will still love this movie. Anything flaw that you might’ve spotted in previous Batman movies, or anything that you found funny about their plots, The Lego Batman Movie probably points it out in a joke that will have you rolling laughing. There’s even a joke about Shark Repellent Bat Spray, which Batman fans will understand and laugh very hard at. For the record, all of the lampooning of the 60’s Batman they do was my favorite material from the whole movie. I laughed every single time.
We all know that Lego Batman is funny, that’s why he got his own spinoff movie. Will Arnett does an awesome job at voicing Lego Batman. He’s awesome, and he’s great in this movie. That’s an obvious strength. But how are the other characters? They’re all also funny, especially the movie’s Lego Robin, who was probably my favorite character in the whole thing (except for Batman, of course). Alfred is here, and he’s really funny. The Joker is also really funny, as is Barbera Gordon. All of the characters are well written and well realized, and each of them bring their own unique brand of humor to the movie.
As I said, it’s hard to review a movie like this. Does it aim to be stupid? Yes. Is it stupid? Yes. Is it also smart at the same time? Yes. Does the whole thing work? Yes, in spades. And bouncing off of that last question, the most important question would be “Is it funny?”. And yes, it’s really funny.
For this review, I’ll do something I never do: I’ll make your decision for you. If you liked The Lego Movie, go see Lego Batman. If you’re a Batman fan, go see Lego Batman. If you’re both, go see Lego Batman. If you’re just one or the other, go see Lego Batman. If you’re neither, don’t go see Lego Batman. It’s that simple. I am a fan of The Lego Movie, and Batman is my favorite superhero. And so yes, I loved The Lego Batman Movie.