The Lego Batman Movie does Everything Right
The Lego Batman Movie
Directed by Chris McKay
Screenplay by: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, John Whittington
Based on Lego Construction Toys & Batman by Bob Kane with Bill Finger
Starring: Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes
Running time 104 minutes
Rated PG for rude humor and some action. – Frequent portrayals of superhero violence, with no impact.
Batman (Will Arnett) is the hero Gotham city deserves, not only is he beloved by the citizens and orphans, he is an unstoppable tour-de-force. However, things take a turn when The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) learns that he is not Batman’s number one nemesis, and Batman simply does not care about him, or anyone. Things take another turn when Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), Bruce Wayne’s adoptive father figure and butler expresses deep concern for Brue’s well being, and he tried some new parenting techniques. Alfred encourages Bruce to attend commissioner Groan’s retirement ceremony, and to meet the new commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), who has some very drastic plans for Batman’s role in Gotham city. It is at this party Bruce meets young Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), who Bruce unwittingly agrees to adopt. Things come to a head when The Joker and every villain in Gotham show up, to surrender. This drastic change in fortune can only mean one thing for Batman, but he is going to need a lot of help to figure it out.
The Lego Batman Movie comes out swinging with bat-comedy fists of ham from the very first frame, to the very last. It is as self-aware as it is self-deprecating while avoiding lowest common denominator comedy at all costs. It is not simply a superlative, and uproariously hilarious comedy, it is also the best Batman film since Tim Burton’s 1989 film. Unlike every other time, the Dark Knight has shown up on screen, this Lego version is everything but turgid and unintentionally campy. The very same thing could be said for the myriad of villains and sidekicks. Even when this film flirts with honest and serious subjects it never drops the comedy, but also never loses sight of the heart, giving us moments of earnestly heartwarming hilarity.
The desire to compare The Lego Batman Movie with The Lego Movie is natural and understandable, where those comparisons fall short is that the two are fundamentally different movies. Unlike The Lego Movie, The Batman Lego Movie is self-contained; it has no ties to reality, in spite of breaking down the walls between fictional universes. It could be argued that this is a child’s imagination at work playing with an infinitely large set of sophisticated interlocking building blocks, but there are no firm indications that this is the case. I certainly would not make that argument because as we saw with The Lego Movie, if the film’s creators wanted that to be known, we would see it, which we do not. If I were to compare the two films, my comparison would end with the fact that the films share some characters, building materials, and that this is the first runaway hit of a very big year for films. In all other ways, The Lego Batman Movie is a superior film on its own merits.