brooke na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na LEGO BATMAN
casey We saw The LEGO Movie on a whim back in 2014, just before it became a minor phenomenon, and it made me feel the rare joy of seeing something completely new and hilarious. Now comes The LEGO Batman Movie, which, in terms of its capacity to delight, never stood a chance of matching its predecessor, but is still pretty good.
brooke I think it’s great. I loved The LEGO Movie and never expected the Batman version to be its equal, but it’s an entertaining follow up that also incorporates an insane amount of amazing and obscure Batman references, which earns it a lot of points in my book.
casey This time we get Will Arnett’s preening Batman in his own DC universe as he teams up with Robin (Michael Cera) and Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) to foil a dastardly scheme by the Joker (Zach Galifianakis). It’s standard Batman stuff, but with the off kilter and hypercaffeinated energy of The LEGO Movie.
brooke The level of energy it maintains is astounding, and when the climax kicks in somehow everything ramps up another notch. The movie is fun, but it’s also a surprisingly poignant critique of the Great Darkening of Batman and Gotham in the past 20 years (read Glen Weldon’s The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture for more about that).
casey I also like that the approach to the entire Batman canon is basically “screw it, everything counts and don’t worry how or why,” meaning the movie makes callbacks to every Batman from Adam West to Christian Bale. Most of the jokes are funny and a few are hilarious, although the movie’s zaniness gets a little overwhelming at times.
brooke There’s plenty to laugh at for fans of any Batman era (like the return of Shark Repellent Bat Spray!). I particularly enjoyed a series of gags about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Batman’s visit to the Fortress of Solitude.
casey My favorite character is Barbara Gordon, Gotham’s new police chief and a graduate of Harvard For Police, who aims to reform Gotham using compassion and statistics (that line is a lot funnier once you’ve seen the movie) and decrease its reliance on Batman, which sets up a rivalry between them, mostly thanks to Batman’s ego. Also, I like the neon color palette, which owes more to Joel Schumacher than Christopher Nolan and fits the LEGO ethos nicely.
brooke Rosario Dawson has exactly the level of no nonsense that makes a serious anchor character like Barbara work.
The LEGO Batman Movie basically combines Nolan’s Dark Knight, Schumacher’s Gotham, Burton’s off-the-wall sensibility, and Adam West-era jokes, mixed with every enemy from the Batman canon, to tell a story about how Batman needs the people around him. The movie rewarded the Batman nerd in me, and its many easter eggs add layers of fun.
casey It’s an open question whether the LEGO franchise (I shudder to have to write that) will maintain this level of quality, but it’s earned the benefit of the doubt in my skeptical heart.
brooke Indeed. The writers and director get serious props for giving the ridiculous, brooding joke character from The LEGO Movie his own movie, and making it great.