Film Review: Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

It’s in-jokes and not much else in this adaptation of a popular animated superhero series.
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With superhero movies approaching critical mass at the box office, it was only a matter of time before the genre would give birth to a sub-category of its very own: the self-aware superhero comedy. They existed before, in films like Mystery Men and the criminally underrated Megamind, but they never quite broke through to the mainstream. And then, well, Deadpool happened. The LEGO Batman Movie. Deadpool 2. And now along comes Teen Titans Go! To the Movies to knock a few more holes in the fourth wall.

Based on a popular Cartoon Network series about a group of goofy teen superheroes—Robin (Scott Menville) is the leader and the most recognizable character to those not in the superhero know—Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is all about how…the Teen Titans want their own movie. Superman and Batman have tons. Wonder Woman finally got hers. And “There was a Green Lantern movie, but…we don’t, we don’t talk about that.”

Teen Titans Go! To the Moviesis filled with those little bits of meta humor that will amuse those familiar with what the heck’s being talked about and provide little to no interest to anyone else. To be fair, pop culture is so saturated with superheroes nowadays that when you joke about Stan Lee’s irrepressible love of cameos, most people are going to get it. Even the casting is meta: Voicing Superman is Nicolas Cage, who was famously going to star in a Tim Burton-directed Superman film back in the late ’90s.

There are some legitimately funny bits in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, like a Lisa Frank-inspired musical number and an aside where the Teen Titans travel back in time to prevent their more famous counterparts’ tragic origin stories from taking place. Screenwriters Aaron Horvath and Peter Rida Michail work in some surprisingly dark sight gags as well, which—combined with a prevalent strain of poop and fart-related humor—makes Teen Titans Go! a wee bit exhausting.

Unfortunately, when Teen Titans Go! isn’t piling on the jokes, there’s not much there. Teen Titans Go! is an adaptation of a series where the episodes clock in around the 15-minute mark, and it reads that way—individual segments are good, but the movie fails to hold together as a whole. The action is dull, the pacing is all over the place and the plot is predictable, a fact that one of the characters references when she notes how totally obvious the secret identity of the villain is. Another common joke is that one of the Teen Titans, Raven (Tara Strong), can create portals to another dimension, a power that effectively lets her win any fight as soon as it starts. But lampshading lazy storytelling techniques doesn’t actually make them any less lazy, you know?

LEGO Batman was a superhero comedy, too, but at least it felt like a movie instead of a series of hastily chopped-together shorts. Also, it has lobster thermidor.

Ultimately, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is fun enough, if unmemorable. If you’re not already invested in the property, you probably won’t find enough in it to make it worth your time.