In the realm of superhero movies, the confident and delightful Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is most similar to Deadpool, and that’s not just because its main villain looks like Wade Wilson. It is tempting to call Teen Titans Go! a kid-friendly version of Deadpool, except that it actually does have some edgy jokes. But those jokes say less about the Titans themselves and more about the dark origins of comic book characters in general. Ultimately, Teen Titans Go! is appropriate for the pre-preteen set, and it is also an instructive introduction to the current state of the film industry. With that in mind, I would argue that it is also a better option than Deadpool for adults looking for some meaningful satire.

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Go! To the Movies is based on the Teen Titans Go! Cartoon Network series, but it is more interested in where it stands within the DC film universe. That might be true of the show as well, but it doesn’t matter, as the film clues the uninitiated like myself into the right vibe with finesse. But chances are that the Titans have indeed adjusted their purposes for the cinematic setting, as it would be difficult to believably maintain the underdog spirit on display here over hundreds of episodes. The plight of Robin (Scott Menville), Cyborg (Khary Payton), Starfire (Hynden Walch), Raven (Tara Strong), and Beast Boy (Greg Cipes) can easily be understood by anyone bemoaning the state of modern superhero films. Why, they wonder, is there a new Batman movie every few years and still nothing with Robin in the lead? But by golly, they are not just going to accept things as they are, they’re going to prove to Hollywood that they really do deserve to star in their own movie!

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Teen Titans sets itself apart from other meta mockeries by putting care into its jokes and by just having plenty of fun. Many of the gags are based on reference humor, but Michael Jelenic and Aaron Horvath‘s screenplay understands that there has to be more to a reference than just the reference itself. An extended riff on Back to the Future is preceded by the worry, “Where are we going to find Libyan terrorists to sell us plutonium at this hour?” That is silliness that works even if you have never seen any of Marty McFly’s adventures through time. The joie de vivre of the whole endeavor is best exemplified by the obligatory Stan Lee cameo. Astute viewers will note that this is a DC, not Marvel, film, and therefore Lee would presumably be out of place. But who cares about logic when nonsensically goofing off (while also still having plenty to say) is the best way to make your movie as enjoyable as possible?

Starring: Scott Menville, Khary Payton, Hynden Walch, Tara Strong, Greg Cipes, Will Arnett, Kristen Bell

Directors: Aaron Horvath, Peter Rida Michail

Running Time: 88 Minutes

Rating: PG for Potty Humor and Sideways References to Comic Book Death

Release Date: July 27, 2018