When Batman, Will Arnett (Arrested Development), hurts The Joker’s, Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover), feelings, Joker allows himself to be sent to space jail in order to break out the most evil villains in history in order to prove to Batman that they have a strong and meaningful relationship built on mutual hate. Go ahead and read that again if you have to because that’s the plot of the entire movie. The sub-plot is Batman’s journey to discover the importance of family, friendship, and letting people in, even if you’re afraid of losing them.
When it comes to movies like this, I feel the need to review it twice. Once as a children’s movie and once as just a movie. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know if you’re bringing your kids to see The LEGO Batman Movie, as well as what you need to know if you want check it out for yourself.
Obviously targeted at children, LEGO Batman is everything you’d expect it to be. The music is fun and upbeat, the visuals are flashy and colorful, and the action is over-the-top and exciting while at the same time removed of the fear that most movies want to instill in the viewer. Villains such as Voldemort from the Harry Potter series, and Sauron from The Lord of the Rings are toned down to cartoonishly dopey, and Batman’s brooding is replaced with narcissistic buffoonery, making the characters easily digestible by children of many ages. The message comes across as clear and important without taking itself too seriously. If you’re planning on making this your choice for a family movie night, then you won’t be disappointed by how excited your children will surely be on the way out of the theater as they discuss everything that they just watched.
I love children’s movies as much as the next guy (check out my review of Moana if you want evidence), but this one fell flat for me. After the level of enjoyment I experienced watching The LEGO Movie, I had high hopes for LEGO Batman. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations. All of my favorite moments came from taking shots at, or making reference to, previous Batman productions. From pointing out Joker’s past failures in Batman (1989) and The Dark Knight (2008) to poking fun at the campy-ness of the 1966 TV show, the best jokes come from nostalgia. Beyond that, it lacked the heart that made The LEGO Movie so good, and not a single piece of music comes close to being as catchy as “Everything is Awesome.” If you’re planning to go see this by yourself, I’d recommend skipping this one.