Rinsing off the Grit – The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)

Of course this is going to be the first 2017 release I watch.  So if you couldn’t figure it out by the title, this is Batman (Will Arnett) in LEGO form.  He has to deal with his usual song and dance from the Joker (Zach Galifianakis), but he also has to face the repercussions from accidentally adopting a son (Michael Cera) as well as pinpointing the reason why he has always had the desire to work alone.  If you happened to catch the original LEGO Movie back in 2014, one of the biggest takeaways is how good Will Arnett’s voice is for the character of Batman.  He may not have the build to play him in a live action, and he is too renown for being comedic to be cast in anything serious, so with LEGO, this may be his only chance.  He thrives in this universe.

2It is clearly made by people who have an adoration of the source material.

After the mess that is Batman v Superman, this is a breath of fresh air.  I love them, but the Nolan trilogy set the tone for this character to be exclusively featured in very dark stories.  The creators of the DCEU went off of that, and they put together a universe that is not only drab and devoid of any sense of humor, but it seems to be against the law for anyone to crack a smile.  This is the polar opposite of that.  Now let me tell you that this is a movie that moves fast; I am fairly certain that I missed at least a dozen jokes if not more because I was still too busy laughing at the previous joke.  It spreads the humor in such a way that there is something for everyone; there are simple jokes that kids will get, as it is very similar to them playing with their toys, but there are also tons of in-jokes so that if you know anything about the lore of Batman, you will get an appreciated nudge and a wink.  There are jokes for film buffs as well, like a well placed Gymkata reference.  There was even an Arrested Development callback that I totally missed until my wife explained it to me, and that is exactly what this movie is: so many clever jokes that are jam packed into the script that you almost assuredly miss a few.

1And there is even a really sick Suicide Squad burn, which is very well deserved.

This is a movie that comprehends Batman better than anybody does in the DCEU.  You could make an argument that this is all about marketing so as to sell toys, and while you’re not wrong, this is so much more than that, much like the original LEGO movie.  The villain lineup is impressive, and even though equal screen time obviously cannot be granted in a 100 minute kids movie, simply by mentioning all of these character names is a nod enough.  Zach Galifianakis turns in great work as The Joker, which isn’t something I can say that I was expecting; I’m really glad he chose not to just do a Nicholson or a Ledger impression, because it would have been wildly inappropriate.  There is a ton of fan service, and if you like the character, this is a must see.

The LEGO Batman Movie (2017) ****

– Critic for Hire

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