** Warning: this article contains spoilers, even if there really is no plot to be spoiled **
First and foremost, this is a children’s movie and has to be treated as such. Any errors in storytelling, cinematography, tone, or even the plot itself cannot be scrutinized (as much) due to the intended key demographic. Secondly, I grew up on the ‘OG’ Teen Titans – which was one of my favourite shows. Having not watched a single episode of Teens Titans GO! I was biased towards the originals and had a relatively negative opinion of the new animation style and direction (more comedy and fantasy vs. a darker and gritty original). And finally, I am not the target demographic but I have to appreciate the effort of the directors in adding content that is entertaining and funny for a more adult audience. And with this, the review can start.
The movie started with a pointless animated short that follows Batgirl trying to leave her house to join other female super heroes to fight Mr. Freeze. BUT OH NO! Her father is still awake and she cannot join the chase with the other super heroes. After a monitoring sequence of her father’s nightly routine, she manages to sneak away and run/fly etc… towards Mr. Freeze and join the other heroes and the short finishes. I am not entirely sure what the point of this short is, but hey, it was flashy, campy, and funny for horde of children present (a quick shout out to my editor Nick who sent me to this premier… the promoters were giving whoopee cushion to the children… as you can imagine it was just peachy).
After that intro, everyone under the age of 12 in the theatre was excited for the real movie to begin. And it began on a high note. One of the most interesting parts of the movie is that is served as a sort of spoof/parody on the whole genre of superheroes and the excesses of Superhero movies. It had a very meta feel to it, if you watched the movie through that lens, it was an interesting and unique social commentary. Almost like a Deadpool, but for kids and obviously not as good. For example, the opening shot made fun of the Marvel EU’s intro/comic book sequence by having a bird flip through an old comic. Numerous cameos and meta humour were thrown throughout for the adults in the room. There were a few Stan Lee cameos (excelsior!), we got to see and rightfully offer a sacrifice to the casting gods who decided not to cast Nick Cage as Superman (yes, he was supposed to play Superman…, and we had a fun little joke about the Green Lantern Movie being horrid and Diana having to wait for years to get her own movie. Best of all there was a MARTHA joke.
Within the first 20 minutes, the Teen Titans had a musical number: a Teen Titans Rap. It was… aimed at the kids and the new rock and roll is rap so it makes sense. After sitting through an ungodly amount of time listening to the Titans rap (oh and a solid minute of a fart on screen), the movie decided to finally have a plot (yay?). The Titans,Robin specifically, were not given a movie because they are not real heroes – they are sidekick. This revelation prompts a very weird dream sequence where the DC Universe gets turned into animals and Batman holds up Robin à la Lion King with music similar to the Disney classic. That was funny, more shocking, but also funny.
Moving on, the film introduces the idea that heroes are aware and act as themselves in movies. Classical tropes were invoked and portrayed and laughs were taken from the audience. However, the Titans cannot have their own movie unless they find an arch nemesis and become real heroes (but in our hearts they are all heroes because they love each other and fighting for the good of life and positivity… wait what? I more certainly did not write that). Conveniently in a matter of seconds, the film introduces Deathstroke, who the Titans immediately call Deadpool. From this point on, the whole purpose of the movie is for the Titans to get Deathstroke to be there nemesis. But since he does not want to, they decide to do the only logical thing: go back in time and make sure every super hero that existence doesn’t became a hero. How do they accomplish this, you may ask? Watch the movie to find out (or google it, either or works really). During this mid-movie sequence (time-filler) there is an EDM music sequence that brought the cringe level up to 100.
Back in the present and all events unaltered, the movie continues its dull and slow progression (just like season 6 of OITNB). Nothing really happens till the very end of the movie except for Robin being separated from the rest of the Titans for a solo-movie. Half an hour passes with relatively little happening on screen until the BIG plot twist (that really is not a plot twist, just bad writing) occurs. Looks like the writers took a course at the M. Night Shyamalan school for forced plot twists. The plot twists, the Titans re-assemble and fight Deathstroke. After an absurd plot, the heroes foil the villain and they are treated as heroes. YAY. The movie ends and a chorus of whoopee cushions erupts in unison, christening the premier. A fitting end for a movie that relies on potty humour (there was a minute long fart and numerous poop jokes).
One of the things that really impressed this writer was that the two female Titans – Starfire and Raven – were not treated in the usual gender normative way. Their characters are treated with equality, both making poop jokes, and acting as characters that are developed rather than female archetype thrown in the movie. Hats off to the show runners.
As for the actual film, the main problem, aside from the paper-thin plot, is the pacing of the movie. Instead of an hour and a half, the film could have easily been a solid hour and had everything it still needed packed in there. The all-star voicing cast was one of the highlights and saving graces of the film. But again, the targeted demographic was not adults or teens, but was children and for what it was, the children present at the screening looked like they were having an amazing time. And it is because of that, I am giving the first 87 minutes of this film a:
The final minute of the film had something really special. THE ORIGINAL TEEN TITANS WERE SHOWN FOR A FEW SECONDS. Myself and the rest of the adults who grew up on the show just sat there in stunned silence, mouths open. IT HAPPENED!! And only days after Clone Wars was saved.
Rating for the last minute of the film: 12/10