February 8, 2017

The LEGO Batman Movie: The Caped Crusader vs. The Joker in a Madcap Animated Adventure

Not since the campy TV-sitcom in the 60s has Batman been so successfully lampooned. In this movie, the superhero is the perfect material for parody in this madcap animated adventure.

More concerned with jokes than plot development, this spoof is relentless in its rush to find the next punch line. Fortunately, the picture never disappoints, whether the laughs are generated by clever quips, silly sight gags, or allusions to earlier versions of the Batman franchise.

For example, right before confronting a couple of villains, Batman (Will Arnett) tells Robin (Michael Cera) that, “We’re going to punch these guys so hard that words are going to magically appear out of thin air.” That, of course is a reference to the cartoon bubbles (such as “Crack!” and “Pow!”) that appeared on the screen during fist fights in the 60s television series.

And it’s not just the TV Batman that gets knocked off a pedestal, every other version of The Caped Crusader is fair game. In this film, Chris McKay makes a remarkable directorial debut with this frenetically-paced farce.

The picture does have a plot that is really just another stock Batman storyline. At the point of departure, The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) is planning to level Gotham City with the help of a host of super-villains. In turn, Batman enlists the assistance of Robin (Michael Cera), Batgirl (Rosario Dawson), and his loyal butler, Alfred (Ralph Fiennes).

However, before the action begins between these archenemies, the Joker demands that Batman actually say “I hate you” to his face. When that phrase isn’t forthcoming, the Clown Prince of Crime vindictively responds with “I’m done — and on my way out, I’m going to blow up Gotham City.”

The ensuing mix of mirth and mayhem is mesmerizing, and it’s easy to forget that you’re watching LEGO figures.

Excellent (****). Rated PG for action and rude humor. Running time: 90 minutes. Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures.