Lego Batman is the equivalent of Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert from The Colbert Report. Much of Lego Batman’s humor derives from the fact that he absolutely believes he is the epitome of all things awesome, and, like Colbert, he’s not afraid to say it.
Can that sort of humor sustain a complete movie? Yes … and no.
On the one hand, this “I’m a bad ass and I know it” Batman continued what he started in The Lego Movie. His egocentric, egotistical personality provided joke after joke after joke until … it wasn’t funny anymore. And that’s when the movie shifted gears slightly. If you are even the slightest bit familiar with Batman, you know what Robin, Alfred, and even Batgirl come to mean to Batman, and that’s what ultimately sustained the final act of the film. Is the ending as poignant as The Lego Movie? No, not by a long shot.
But that’s not to say you shouldn’t see The Lego Batman Movie. I took my two daughters (8 and 4) and they enjoyed it even more than I did. As a Lego Batman fan, you will love the silliness of it all. There is over-the-top action, tons of fun Lego vehicles, more classic Batman villains than you can imagine, and even some unexpected antagonists from other popular Warner Brother franchises, all in their Lego glory. And, like The Lego Movie, this Lego Batman does not pretend to be anything other than what he is—an awesome Lego minifigure. Don’t come here looking for Christian Bale or Ben Affleck.
However, that’s not to say The Lego Batman Movie does not acknowledge its source material … ALL … of its source material. It managed to poke fun at every iteration of the cinematic Batman ever, and I do mean ever. (True Batman fans are thinking back to the old serial days, and yes, they went there.) They struck a great balance, though, of poking fun at Batman’s long history without making fun of Batman. Amidst the insanity, it all felt very tenderhearted. I got the impression that the filmmakers love Batman just as much as we do.
Will Arnett manages to perform a feat of alchemy by combining GOB from Arrested Development and Stephen Colbert to create the sound and persona of Lego Batman. His gravelly voice is perfect for the role, and his deadpan delivery is always hilarious. He just sounds so convinced that he is awesome.
Michael Cera actually managed to avoid sounding like George Michael Bluth, also from Arrested Development, which was a welcome change. His Robin utilized a naiveté and unblemished joy that made the character endearing. I’m not sure if Dick Grayson fans are crazy about this interpretation of the original Robin, but we live in a world now where we all get the kind of Batman we want. More on that later.
Rosario Dawson did well with Barbara Gordon, though I wouldn’t say she made it her own in any significant way. I could say the same of Ralph Fiennes as Alfred.
I loved the cameos originated in The Lego Movie of Channing Tatum as Superman and Jonah Hill as Green Lantern. In fact, if you’re an old school Super Friends fan, prepare to be briefly delighted.
Zach Galifianakis actually disappointed me a bit with his Joker role, but only because it was pretty straightforward. After Hamill’s iconic take on Joker’s voice from the animated series, as well as Ledger and Leto’s unique approaches, Galifianakis really didn’t do anything to stand out. They tried to explore the Joker/Batman relationship in an interesting way, but I couldn’t ever quite figure out if they were being sincere with it or trying to make us laugh at the homoerotic subtext. (This is usually reserved for the Batman/Robin dynamic, but they thankfully worked hard to avoid that old nugget.)
It should be noted that several other actors really got a chance to shine with their cameo voices, even if only fleetingly. Some of the casting proved really funny, such as with Billy Dee Williams finally getting to play Two-Face, Doug Benson further mastering Bane, and Ellie Kemper getting the best role of all (which will be kept top-secret).
Like The Lego Movie, The Lego Batman Movie barrages you with constant visual stimulation. It actually started wearing on me after a while. It’s probably me, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but these movies give you a lot to look at constantly without mercy. There is literally an onslaught of moving parts.
I’d also like to say that I love that we live in a world where we can have several different Batmans existing all at once. We’ve got Ben Affleck’s Batman, we’ve got a resurgence of Adam West’s Batman, we have video game Batman, we have Justice League Action Batman, and that’s not even getting into all of the past animated, television, and cinematic versions. There is truly a Batman for everyone, but none are as funny as Lego Batman. He is the humorous version we’ve been waiting a long, long time to see. My gosh—it’s nice to see Batman smile again.
Do I recommend you see The Lego Batman Movie? Absolutely, especially if you’re looking for a family excursion. It is very funny, to be sure. It will tickle the historians with all of the obscure references, it will charm the uninitiated with the bawdy, ridiculous humor, and the action will keep the kids glued to the screen. But it’s not perfect. I found myself getting impatient for the end to arrive, which tried to achieve the uplifting note of its predecessor. It missed the mark in that regard because the finale did not prove especially original or surprising. All in all, though, a fun movie outing for the family. My oldest daughter says it’s her new favorite film. Of course, she says that about every new movie she sees …