Reviews for the Easily Distracted

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
The Lego Batman Movie

Title: The Lego Batman Movie

Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote:

Adam West: "Michelle Pfeiffer? Ha. The only true Catwoman is Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether or Eartha Kitt." 

Brief Plot Synopsis: The [Gosh Darned] Batman must learn to play with others while fighting his arch-nemesis, the Joker.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Three and a half Batmantises out of five.

Tagline: "He's taking them under his wing...of awesomeness!"

Better Tagline: "The merchandising tie-in we deserve."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: It's good to be the Batman (Will Arnett): fighting crime, saving Gotham City and ripping sweet guitar solos is pretty bitchin'. Unfortunately, one can only thwart the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) so many times before the incoming Commissioner Gordon (Rosario Dawson) decides to take a new, Dark Knight-less approach. Unfortunately, this coincides with the Joker's plan to unleash the worst villains the world (or at least the Warner Bros. version of it) has ever seen.

"Critical" Analysis: Lego Batman was one of the standout characters in The Lego Movie, a film that was already fairly overstuffed with them. Giving him his own feature film probably seemed like a no-brainer, given the enduring popularity of the Dark Knight and, of course, its predecessor's impressive box office haul.

So sure, The Lego Batman Movie is a lot of fun. Arnett growls capably, and Galifianakis, Dawson, Ralph Fiennes (as Alfred) and even Michael Cera (Robin) all appear equally committed to the endeavor. The jokes start before the "WB" logo even takes the screen, and fly so fast and furious that you're bound to miss some of them. Director Chris McKay (Robot Chicken) and his five (again?) screenwriters also demonstrate a dizzying knowledge of Bat-history, exhaustively dragging out almost his entire rogue's gallery (Condiment King!) and throwing out references dating back to the 1940s movie serials.

And that's a problem, albeit a minor one. Some of the best jokes in the film are aimed at properties predating the target audience's memory, sometimes by decades. Lego Batman and hetero lifemate the Joker apparently exist in the same continuum as all previous adaptations, leading to quips about the "two boat" thing in The Dark Knight or the "Prince parade" in the 1989 movie, as well as callbacks to Adam West's portrayal. Funny stuff, but mostly flying over the heads of kids in the audience.

How much this has to do with Lego Movie writer/directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller stepping back into producer roles this time around is hard to say. McKay's TV animation experience serves just fine here, but replacing Lord and Miller with — jesus jones — five screenwriters leads to some choppy transitions between the all-out joke assault and Batman gradually learning to understand his feelings.

Because at the end of it all, the symbiotic relationship between him and the Joker is what drives the film, just as it has in every other Bat-flick. The only difference here is the occasionally clumsy romantic analog, and the fact Galifianakis's joker is at least better than Jared Leto's from Suicide Squad.

This isn't really all that difficult, of course. Just an observation.

Was The Lego Batman Movie really necessary? Probably not. It should distract the kids adequately while it provides grown-up nerds with something new to argue about (could Barbara Gordon *really* clean up Bludhaven?). The sheer tonnage of Easter eggs and Bat-gags* will delight some, but might be hit or miss with the younger set. To wit:

Ask a Seven-Year Old:
Me: "Did you like the movie?"
7YO#1: "It was awesome!"
7YO#2: "I didn't laugh once."


* Do  not Google "bat gags."
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar