Friday, February 10, 2017

The Lego Batman Movie

By George M. Thomas

Batman (Will Arnett) works with the Man of Steel in "The Lego
Batman Movie."


There’s nothing wrong with THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE that a better edit wouldn’t have helped greatly.

And let’s face it; there are few pop culture icons riper for skewering than The Dark Knight himself.  In the superhero lexicon he’s the equivalent of a grumpy old man with off-the-chart intelligence and he maximizes all of that – especially the grumpiness. 

But Batman also possesses 78 years of backstory to provide plenty of fodder for those who want to take on what should be a relatively easy process.

For an hour of Batman, that is indeed the case as director Chris McKay mines that past material for its most significant laughs.  The occasional riffing on that noxious 1960s-era TV series provided some personal satisfaction, for example.

Then there is the blatant narcissism the character can be accused of having.  McKay and the film’s team of script writers – really it’s a team, there are five of them – phenomenally lampoon the character for perceived vanity and focus on self.

This Batman (voice by Will Arnett) can’t even bring himself to admit what every Batman fan knows – without The Joker there is no way for Batman to reveal all of those character flaws.

The film deals with The Dark Knight coming to terms with the fact that he’s a lonely soul.  Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), his faithful butler, rips on him incessantly for this very fact as does, of course, The Joker (Zach Galifianakis).  It’s an unrequited bromance as the Clown Prince of Crime willingly admits that Batsy completes him, but he’s alone with that feeling.

This is something that could be wrapped up in about 90 minutes, no?  Not according to this flick.  McKay strains to fit relevant laughs into 104 minutes and in the process THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE gets stretched thin.

Yes, that’s the kind of thing its intended audience will ignore. But as the film slogs through its last half or so, it starts to grow tedious as they introduce every character in the Batman canon, including Batgirl, Robin, Alfred as Batman and a slew of villains.

Not much of that works.  What’s disappointing, however, is Galifianakis’ The Joker.  Yes, it’s a movie aimed squarely at the Lego-using audience, but can we have a little menace please and a less shrill voice?  That would be nice and thank you very much.

It’s not a difficult to believe that more than a few adults were looking forward to this movie’s release, also. This isn’t for you and that’s all right, really it is. A word of advice: lower your expectations and take the children anyway.

Movie: THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE
Director:  Chris McKay
Cast:  Will Arnett, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Cera, Zach Galifianakis
Studio:  Warner Bros.
Rated:  PG for rude humor and some action
Running time:  104 minutes
George’s rating: 2.5-of-4 stars

Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, ClevelandCinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com

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