Movie Review: “The Lego Batman Movie”

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It’s still as pretty as a toybox, eye candy in the brightest plastic colors and textures.

The creators of the second big screen LEGO toys movie stick to the rest of the formula, as well. There’s one original pop song. Yes, Batman sings in “The LEGO Batman Movie.”

The pop culture gags and one liners, most of them delivered by famous actors this time around, pepper the picture.

But you only get to take big screen audiences by surprise once. And as comfy as the Lego film folks have gotten with a winning formula that extends back to their many direct-to-video “adventures” with toy tie-ins, I can honestly say that this time around, they start to seem a little spent.

At 104 minutes, this CG/looks-like-stop-motion cartoon, drags. The screen is overcrowded with characters and gadgets that make it feel like a long, LEGO commercial.

And the song Batman sings is instantly forgettable, unlike that ear worm “Everything is Awesome.”

It’s still fun, a self-conscious parody that warmly references every big screen Batman dating back to the 1940s movie serial, and the vampy Adam West Batman TV show from the ’60s.

And Will Arnett? The funnyman was born to voice the Caped Crusader,  a self-absorbed, self-promoting “night stalking crime fighting machine” who lives in “sweet, sweet isolation.”

But the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) senses something is missing in their relationship. Like, a relationship. He wants to be known as Batman’s “number one enemy.” But the vainglorious Bat doesn’t give hugs and doesn’t admit that he needs anybody — even a nemesis.

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With a new Commissioner Gordon, the former Commissioner’s daughter (Rosario Dawson) vowing the clean up “the most crime-ridden city in the world” with pro-active policing and social service, and with a new haphazardly-adopted ward, Dick Grayson (Michael Cera, perfect), Batman’s going to need to share.

“You can’t be a hero if you only care about yourself.”

We have our lesson to be learned, sharing is caring and work is all about “teamwork.”

And we quickly get a crisis that pushes our hero toward that lesson. Reluctantly. Alfred the Butler (Ralph Fiennes) may revoke Batman’s computer privileges for not sharing, and he’s not shy about letting the Bat know what “fatherhood” demands. But the Bat isn’t biting.

“Vigilantes don’t have ‘bed times.'”

The picture’s giddy opening is topped by some trippy later moments — Batman crashing Superman’s (Channing Tatum) “57th Anniversary of the Justice League” party at his Fortress of Solitude– “What, I didn’t get an invitation?”; visiting every bad guy, from Bane to Penguin, Scarecrow to Tw0-face, in a LEGO version of Arkham Prison.

Then there are the villains Joker releases from The Phantom Zone, a space purgatory where Superman and others have shipped everyone from the Wicked Witch of the West to Sauron of “Lord of the Rings,” Daleks from “Doctor Who” and Medusa from mythology and “You Know Who” from the Harry Potter universe.

Yeah, its a little funny to hear Eddie Izzard do Voldemort with Ralph Fiennes, the “real” Voldemort, playing a butler.

But few characters outside of Batman’s inner circle register, either as written gags or as voices (Jemaine Clement does Sauron. Who knew?).

The jukebox load of pop music montages — “One” “is the loneliest number,” George Michael, Rick Ashley, “We Are Family” and “Fly, Robin Fly” among them — aren’t amusing enough to warrant buying the rights to them.

And while the LEGO lair of the Batman, the LEGO Fortress of Solitude and LEGO Batboat, Batmobile, Bat Zepellin and Bat Kayak, are cute, they only seem to be here for the product placement.

“Mommy, what do I need to build THAT?”

 

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MPAA Rating: PG for rude humor and some action

Cast: The voices of Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Zach Galifianakis, Ralph Fiennes, Jenny Slate, Eddie Izzard

Credits:Directed by, script by . A — release.

Running time: 1:44

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