The Reelist is a column featuring Kristen Page-Kirby’s musings on movies. For Washington Post film critic David Betancourt’s review of “Teen Titans Go! to the Movies,” click here.
Oh, is “Teen Titans Go! to the Movies” the superhero movie for you. And you. And you, over there, the one who doesn’t like superhero movies. And you in the back who hates Cartoon Network’s “Teen Titans Go!” because the show is so different from its predecessor, “Teen Titans,” which the network canceled in 2006. You with kids, you without kids, you who hates kids (though maybe an evening show would be best for you, or one of the theaters that serve alcohol).
The movie we’re now calling “TTG!TTM” is (so far) the funniest movie of the year, the third-best superhero movie of the year (sorry, “Ant-Man”) and the second-best Justice League-adjacent movie ever, because we all agree that “Wonder Woman” takes the top spot.
DC’s animated film takes the TV show and makes everything bigger, but it keeps the plot simple enough: Robin, the often stick-in-the-mud leader of the Teen Titans, is tired of being considered a sidekick surrounded by a team of relatively unknown heroes. The one of the bunch that even Titans novices might recognize is Cyborg, who appeared in non-animated form in 2017’s “Justice League.” The others are alien Starfire, the half-demon Raven and the shape-shifting Beast Boy. Robin decides that the only way to be considered a real hero is to get his own movie, since every other hero seems to have one. So off they head to Hollywood.
“TTG!TTM” retains the TV show’s clever, silly sensibility, especially in its music. One episode of the series featured a song that is simply the word “waffles” repeated over and over and is sure to get in your head every time you make waffles waffles waffles! Waffles waffles waffles! The film’s music is just as catchy and hilarious and fast-paced — my 10-year-old son described it as “like ‘Hamilton,’” which is a bit generous, but it’s still great.
“TTG!TTM” excels because it hits all levels of superhero fandom. There’s often an irritating discussion about what makes a person a “real” fan of something. Seen all the new “Doctor Who” episodes but never watched the classic ones? Not a real fan. Can’t list the last three comics Geoff Johns wrote? Get out of the comics shop. Too often the measure of a fan is not his or her (usually her) enthusiasm, but knowledge of trivia.
With this movie, everyone’s welcome no matter what. You don’t need to have seen the show. You don’t need to know who Beast Boy is; they’ll explain it in their song “Go!” — which I desperately hope gets nominated for best original song so I can see it performed at the Oscars. Granted, it WILL help if you can identify Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman on sight, but even that might not be necessary. However, if you DO know your comics to an intense level, there are jokes that only you and one other person in the theater will get.
The point of “TTG!TTM” is to have fun — a lot of fun — without any of the gatekeeping that can exist in the world of nerddom. Here the gate is wide open to everyone.
More Reelists from Kristen Page-Kirby