There’s a terrible rift in our household. A Civil War, if you will. You see, I’m Marvel. And my kid is (whisper it)… DC.
It’s tricky. And since neither one of us has a mother called Martha, that line of resolution is closed to us. But if there’s one space where I’m willing to let divided loyalties lie it’s in front of the TV for a family viewing of the hilarious, anarchic show Teen Titans GO! So when we were invited along to a preview of the big screen outing for the Justice League’s biggest fans, it would have taken a feat of superhuman strength to hold us back.
For those unfamiliar with the show, Teen Titans GO! is a DC comic book spin-off specifically for younger audiences. Batman’s most famous sidekick, Robin, leads a motley crew of wannabe superheroes: offbeat alien princess Starfire, laconic half-demon Raven and the bro-tastic double act of hyperactive Cyborg and charmingly dim hipster Beast Boy. With a team as obsessed with waffles as they are with crimefighting, the show revels in nostalgic flights of fancy, bizarre humour, slapstick and asides especially for parents. It’s a high octane, flashy animated adventure series that is in love with its own silliness. So how does that translate to a big screen caper lasting many times longer than the average 15 minute episode?
Brilliantly, that’s how.
Honestly, I haven’t laughed so hard since Thor: Ragnarok. No matter what your preferred category of nerd humour, you’ll find it here. Comic book nerds will find the richest seam here: Marvel and DC jokes come thick and fast from start to finish. But if you love a fart gag, you’ll be handsomely rewarded, and if the likes of Ready Player One and the recent Duck Tales reboot haven’t quenched your thirst for 80s nostalgia then buckle up – because where we’re going we don’t need roads.
The plot helps by swiftly moving the Titans from their usual haunt, Jump City (“safer than Gotham!” scream the billboards) to Hollywood, as Robin (Scott Menville) seeks to be taken seriously by convincing the superhero director of the moment, Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell), to make him the star of his own movie. Laughed out of town by Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern – understandably sheepish about his own film – the rest of the Titans rally around Robin in his quest for validation. But of course they can’t quite help getting up to their usual questionably helpful shenanigans, and to make things worse there’s a new supervillain in town, Slade (Will Arnett), whose mind manipulation trick include the deadly power of making you look.
Throw in some self-deprecating 80s synth pop musical numbers, and there’s barely a moment to breathe – let alone be bored. Younger audiences will simply be swept along by the pace (more than once my 8yo leaned over to say “I don’t know why that was funny! But it was!”). She also stood up at the end to declare, with her fist pumping the sky: “BEST. FILM. EVER!”. So the only downside for parents is that they won’t be able to use this summer’s cinema air conditioning break to have a restorative nap – because they’ll be enjoying themselves too much.
As an added bonus, there’s also a short DC Superhero Girls film beforehand, The Late Batsby – a quick and charming cartoon caper in which Batgirl is ready to race to a crime scene and stop Mr Freeze, only to be held up by waiting for her dad to head to bed. And 10/10 to Warner Bros and DC for choosing to showcase a female-led narrative before a cartoon that’s popular with all kinds of kids.
Teen Titans GO! to the Movies is on general UK release from August 3rd.
Thanks to Thinkjam PR, Warner Bros and DC Comics for the opportunity to see the film early, and the chance to meet the characters. I’m sorry I wore no less than three Marvel accessories to do so.