I know how it is. Your girlfriend has been bugging you to see a movie about a narcissistic billionaire with sick abs and a closet-full of gadgets that you, in your wildest dreams, could never have imagined. She’s been poking, prodding, and so you bought tickets for your big Valentine’s Day date and as the lights dim she turns and lovingly whispers “Why the hell did you drag me to a kid’s movie on Valentine’s Day?”
You guys, LEGO Batman is awesome.
After a less-than-stellar 2016 for WB/DC they really needed a win in the superhero department. I was part of team ‘mixed-to-negative’ and had already lost steam, ready to just take a break from anything related to that universe. Then we got the trailer for this and I started wondering, hoping, and dreaming. Turns out I probably could have gotten a bit more excited because of just how great this was.
Will Arnett plays Batman, a dark-and-edgy obsessed billionaire superhero that has been fighting crime for 78 years (yes, they are fully self-aware of franchise length) and has continued growing more and more full of himself in order to avoid really having a family again. Bruce, in his idiocy, does not pay attention to what he is agreeing to and winds up adopting an orphan – Dick Grayson (Michael Cera). At the coercion of his butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), he takes the boy under his wing because…well, he’s small enough to sneak into a dangerous situation and Batman needs that. Along with Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) the team will fight against the Joker (Zack Galifianakis) in his latest scheme to destroy Gotham and become the Dark Knight’s greatest foe.
Let’s get this out of the way – Galifianakis is the best Joker we’ve had in awhile. He’s fun, he’s Batman’s obsessive ex-girlfriend, and he’s just silly enough that it works. He also manages to trot out so many B-list, C-list, and D-list villains that it feels wonderful to see them trotted out. Many of my random loves from childhood, like Calendar Man and Gentleman Ghost, are here just to have them pop up and it is just delightful.
The animation here is no surprise. The Lego Movie appeared back in 2014 and wowed everyone with its ability to use the format to really show the environment as an impressive technical feat. All of that is still here, we are just given different environments. There are great action sequences, Master-Builder moments with Batman that tie this in as a franchise piece, and great bits of LEGO goodness.
While this is incredible it does dip a bit after the first hour. This is not because the film has real low points, but for nearly 60 minutes you are assaulted with hilarity and action. Because of that, the moment where it slows down to truly examine the interplay between characters feels like someone hit the brakes a little hard. This is not a problem, though, because it ramps back up and finishes strong.
The kid’s will love it. You’ll love it. There’s an all-star cast cobbled together from podcasters and television actors to film stars and beyond. All of it is well-done and gorgeous to look at but more than that – this is the most fun you’ll have had with a DC movie in a long time. If you’re looking for something to watch on Valentine’s Day this could not be more recommended, particularly if you’ve got a family to take or a whole bunch of LEGO sculptures in your basement. This is going to be a self-aware, fun, and heartwarming watch for the kids and parents alike.