.Review: ‘Lego Batman Movie’

The Caped Crusader gets catty in this animated action flick

‘The Lego Batman Movie’ isn’t just for kids. There are plenty of in-gags for the grown-ups, too.

There’s bound to be someone—mom?—who prefers a Batman movie in which our hero learns the importance of family life and sharing. How can such a sharing, caring Dark Knight resonate with the adolescent, who prefers brooding, hiding in solitude and watching everyone from a point of concealment?

Fortunately, the makers of The Lego Batman Movie realize they are dealing with a figure who is a kaleidoscope of personas—a Batman for all seasons. This version of the Caped Crusader has had his head turned by success. He does victory laps in the Batmobile, and fires a T-shirt cannon of souvenir Batshirts at the orphanage. During a quick visit there, he acquires an adopted son, Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), in an absence of mind.

This dizzying animated film still honors the Gothic premise of the pop culture legend. Returning from a mission, Batman stops to talk to a picture hanging on the wall: “Hi Mom. Hi Dad, I saved the city again today.” Batman withholds his feelings, refusing to acknowledge his 78-year-old relationship with the Joker (Zach Galifianakis), cutting the villain to the quick. On advice of his therapist and girlfriend Harley Quinn, The Joker withdraws… to the Phantom Zone, where the most fearsome villains are kept on ice.

The premise of a dimension stocked with everyone from Godzilla to Voldemort has been done before in the South Park Imaginationland episodes. Still, this Batman movie gives the Joker some scare-power, with a sneering face threatening Gotham City from the clouded skies. The hurried ending is loaded with geek fodder: blink and you’ll miss ’60s chimera Egghead dressed in a white tux and egging the Bat-Signal. Five scriptwriters furnish the gags; the new super-achieving commissioner Barbara Gordon is a graduate of “Harvard for Cops,” exasperated butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes!) is seen reading a book called “Setting Limits for the Out of Control Child.”

Robot Chicken vet Chris McKay makes a movie that’s like watching a really bright kid playing with the snap-together toys while talking to himself. The Joker, shooting a gun, goes “Piu! Piu!” like a boy playing pistol with his finger. You can laugh at your mixed feelings about Batman and still be a little moved when Robin is asked, “Are you ready to follow Batman and learn a few life lessons along the way?”

The Lego Batman Movie
PG; 106 Min.


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