Warner Bros. Animation scored a hit with its 2013 reboot of the Teen Titans animated series, bringing in a heavy satirical tone and cartoonish style for the Teen Titans Go! series. Five seasons later, the TTG! gang is finally headed to the big screen, for a movie that delivers everything fans of the show know and love, while hitting that sweet "fun for kids, fun for adults" middle ground like only the best animated movies can do.
The storyline of Teen Titans Go! To the Movies finds our Titans team (Robin, Starfire, Raven, Cyborg, and Beast Boy) finally realizing that they are the only ones in the superhero game that haven't yet gotten a movie. That lack of exposure is killing their street cred, and barring them from of the A-List perks that so many superheroes enjoy when they get a mainstream movie. The Titans seek help from Hollywood producer Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell), who tells them that what they lack is a compelling nemesis to help anchor their series. To that end, the Teen Titans seek out and confront Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke the Terminator (Will Arnett), who is in the midst of a plan to steal a MacGuffin that will allow him use superhero movies as a form of mind control. The Titans soon find themselves torn between stopping Slade, and trying to conform to the formula of a mainstream superhero franchise -- a tug of war that eventually threatens to split the team at its seams.
It should be no surprise that smart satire and irreverence of the Teen Titans Go! series translates to this movie fully intact, as series regulars like Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic are the major creative force behind the movie. As such, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies throws exactly the sort of shade you'd expect, only on the scale of movies rather than focusing on skewering superhero tropes in the TV or comic book realms. The film takes aim at a wide range of targets: from Warner Bros.' stumbles with establishing a DC Cinematic Universe to the past history of the studio and its iconic superhero films to throwing jabs at the Marvel Cinematic Universe, complete with a hilarious running gag about Stan Lee cameos.
Rapid-fire satire of other films would quickly become old schtick, so thankfully Teen Titans Go! To the Movies balances out that humor with moments of its own signature brand of silly irreverence (like saying the name "Slade"), with all sorts of callbacks to running gags that have appeared and/or reappeared throughout the series' run (baby hands!). There are also some flashy and catchy musical numbers peppered in, which will surely be counted amongst some of the other great numbers the series has put out (the '80s-tinged "Upbeat" may just be this year's "Everything Is Awesome"). All in all, the pacing of the film is spot-on, changing things up just often enough to hold young viewers' attention, while also keeping up a steady stream of adult humor to keep it fun for parents. In fact, the film knows just when to call it quits -- and even makes a hilarious final gag out of the matter. Hardcore superhero geeks will also get a kick out of the sheer number of Easter eggs that are buried in the visuals and dialogue, enough to make rewatching the film a rewarding experience.
By now, the cast of voice actors (Scott Menville, Greg Cipes, Khary Payton, Tara Strong, Hynden Walch) are so tight-knit and synced that they make the film's vocal performance seem effortless as well as fun. New additions like Kristen Bell and Will Arnett fit in seamlessly with the regular gang, especially Arnett, who chews scenery and simultaneously skewers generic superhero movie villains with his version of Slade Wilson.
In the end, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is everything that fans of the series could want, and a pretty good entry point for fans who have never watched the show before. If you've never been a fan of the show's style, this film won't offer you anything new.
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies will be in theaters on starting Friday, July 27th. It is 1 hour 33 minutes long, and is Rated PG for action and rude humor.
Rating: 5 out of 5