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(Since Lego Batman describes himself as a “heavy metal rapping machine,” I wrote this so it’s rappable. Have fun!)

When Gotham City’s threatened by the Clown Prince of Crime
And it needs a Dark Knight to save it in the nick of time,
Who you gonna call? Not a boy scout with an S,
Or a greenie with a ring or a guy who’s all wet
(Although Wonder Woman’s cool and she could maybe work, I guess),
But there’s only one hero who looks great in silhouette!

You know his name and signal, and you know he’s gonna come
Whether rogues are plotting something that’s ingenious or dumb.
Who you gonna call? Not the fastest man alive,
Or a silly bunch of villains who do not know wrong from right.
No, you need BATMAN for your franchise to thrive,
‘Cause there’s only one hero who looks cooler at night!

MPAA rating: PG

Everybody loves Batman. Seriously, the amount of Batman love among my coworkers alone is staggering. They can enjoy Marvel movies and complain about DC, as I do, but when it comes to Batman himself, he’s always the best. I’m not quite as big a fan, so you can imagine the nerd debates we engage in. And after years of increasingly dark movies to his name, along comes The Lego Batman Movie to widen an already huge fan base, because who doesn’t love Batman humor? There’s certainly no shortage of humor in this follow-up to The Lego Movie, a film whose unexpected popularity already ensured loads of good will toward its manic superhero spin-off. As good as The Lego Movie was (and most loved it more than I), I think I enjoyed The Lego Batman Movie just a smidgen more, thanks to its irreverent parody of everyone else’s favorite superhero.

Reprising his role from The Lego Movie, Will Arnett is the same self-absorbed Batman as before, writing his own theme songs and beating bad guys while generally reveling in his own awesomeness. When he’s alone in his Batcave, though, his life of solitude is starting to get lonely, as evidenced by all the weepy romantic comedies he watches regularly (and laughs at). After the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) is offended at not being considered Batman’s #1 archenemy, his plan to win Batman’s attention forces Batman to reconsider his loner attitude, maybe with the help of Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) and new commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson).

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As with The Lego Movie, the jokes come at a breakneck pace, with so many to react to that a rewatch is in order just to catch them all. Because of the constant gags, there’s always something to tickle your funny bone, whether it be the more ridiculous members of Batman’s rogues gallery (most played by barely used famous names) or Robin’s gung-ho geekiness or the callbacks to past Batman movies. Honestly, the denseness that keeps several people from deducing Batman’s identity, despite obvious evidence, made me think of similar stupidity surrounding Perry the Platypus in Phineas and Ferb. I do think they could have poked fun at DC’s current line-up a little more; for example, when Superman is interviewed about banishing Zod to the Phantom Zone, I would have loved it if he’d said something like, “Of course, I banished him. It’s not like I’m going to snap his neck or anything like that.” There is a nice subtle dig at Suicide Squad, though.

While The Lego Batman Movie doesn’t reference The Lego Movie or pay as much attention to keeping its Lego creations recreatable, it’s still very much Lego-inspired, with a climax that could only happen with Lego characters. Plus, despite not reeling about the multiverse like its predecessor, plenty of non-Batman characters pop up as the Joker musters the worst villains from other franchises to help him conquer Gotham. Honestly, seeing the likes of Sauron and the Kraken battling DC characters was my favorite nerdy pleasure to be had.

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The Lego Batman Movie is made for Batman fans by Batman fans, so certain jokes may fly over the heads of those with only a cursory knowledge of the Caped Crusader. Yet, though I enjoyed it and found the animation well-done and creative, there’s something about its frenetic, blocky appearance that hurts my eyes looking at it for too long. There’s just so much detail that it’s hard to keep up. Even so, Batman’s growth as a hero made The Lego Batman Movie better than just a mere string of jokes, and the near-constant humor left little time to be bored or disappointed. Like its forerunner, it’s not quite as funny as it thinks it is, but it’s consistently funny and self-aware enough to please Batman fans everywhere… and maybe recruit a few new ones too. After all, he’s Batman.

Best line: (Alfred, to Batman, with accompanying flashback images) “Sir, if you don’t mind my saying, I’m a little concerned. I’ve seen you go through similar phases in 2016 and 2012 and 2008 and 2005 and 1997 and 1995 and 1992 and 1989 and that weird one in 1966. Do you want to talk about how you’re feeling right now?”


Rank: List Runner-Up


© 2017 S.G. Liput
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