“The LEGO Batman Movie” – everything’s still awesome

lego-batman-2“I’m Richard Grayson, but everybody at the orphanage calls me Dick.”

‘Well, kids can be cruel.’

Nutshell: A crazy, over-the-top extravaganza of villainous excess and Batman badassery. Lots of adults-get-it-humor that isn’t too much for the wee ones. A bit too focused on action and packing in All The Things. But the shout-outs to Batman (Batmen?) of old, and the easygoing cameraderie of the voice actors make up for a few hiccups in narrative tone.  Grade: A-

Story: Superhero and all-around curmudgeonly superstar Batman (Bruce Wayne, shhhh!) has a blast being Batman.  There’s something missing though; a family. But you’ll have to convince Batman of that, especially now that he’s accidentally adopted a son.

Genre I’d put it in: Super Spectacular Superhero Movies Of Awesomeness (With LEGOs)

Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Orignal: Sequel to 2014’s The LEGO Movie.

Gotta say: It’s official; LEGO Batman is Best Batman.  Will Arnett has nailed down Bruce Wayne’s self-satisfied loner, and added just the faintest whiff of clownsnake! tenderness under all the bluster and bravado.  Plus, Arnett’s ability to drop deadpan lines at just the right time for maximum payoff is unmatched anywhere else in the DC universe. And as Batman’s son sidekick Dick Grayson/Robin, Michael Cera not only keeps up with Arnett’s whipsmart vocals, but builds on them.  I think I like you best, Robin.  *riiiiip*

Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) heads up a writing team with Chris McKenna (Community), Erik Sommers (American Dad!), Jared Stern (Wreck-It Ralph), and John Whittington, and the blend of these writers worked LEGO Batman magic.  The dialogue is fun without being (too) self-aware, and there are plenty of laugh – and cheer – out loud moments that are part of the plot rather than jammed in for effect.

They’ve also done their due diligence Batman research.  There’s plenty of nods to Batman past and present, along with a few other quick hat tips to other DC properties.  (Oh, the LEGO villains I now “need” for my collection.) I just wish the action didn’t constantly jump from zero to one million and three in no seconds.  I want to gaze with wonder at what’s going on, not wonder what’s going on.  But every time that happens, director Chris McKay (Robot Chicken) unveils another bit of incredible LEGO set design in wide-shot.  So I can’t stay mad.  I just can’t.

As for the LEGO themselves, there’s great work from the animation and art departments. With Gotham veering from Arkham Asylum darkness to Suicide Squad pop-art sensory overload, there’s plenty to marvel at. There’s a loving attention to detail here as well, with “hair” moving in the breeze, and LEGO lava pouring…I’ve said too much.

Speaking of saying too much, Ellie Kemper does a great job as the mysterious Phyllis.  And that’s all I’ll say about that.  Great job, Ellie.  Ditto to Channing Tatum as Superman, Doug Benson as Bane, and of course Zack Galifinakis as Batman’s greatest enemy (OR IS HE???) the Joker.

So while sometimes the action swamps the storyline, leaving me wondering what the heck just happened?  The LEGO Batman movie is a whole lot of fun.  Let the multicolor brickness of it all wash over you.

#Protip: Comic book fans will see LOTS of Easter Eggs all up in this joint.  But pay particularly close attention to Dick Grayson’s wardrobe change towards the end of the film.  Priceless.

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