7/10 “The Lego Batman Movie” is harmless. It’s perfectly placed counter-programming for parents looking to bring their kids on a Valentine’s date, fluffy and inoffensive.
In the movie, Batman (Will Arnett) is at his crime fighting peak, but is assailed on all fronts by his life’s emptiness. It’s immediately clear that he’s lonely not because no one wants to be around him, but because he won’t accept the love that’s offered to him. He’s unwilling to validate the Joker (Zach Galafianackis), who takes solace in being his greatest villain. He’s infatuated with new police commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), but not willing to formally work with her. He denies Alfred Pennyworth (Ralph Fiennes) as his father figure and refuses to pay attention to Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), whom he absent-mindedly adopts. When faced with a larger challenge than he’s ever dealt with, Batman must learn to accept help and friendship.
“The Lego Batman Movie” doesn’t have any graphic sex scenes. Keanu Reeves doesn’t murder anyone in it. The musical numbers aren’t as good as “La La Land,” but that’s been out since December, who wants to see that again.
Me. I do. I want to see “La La Land” again.
“The Lego Batman Movie’s” brutal pace and wafty tone mean children will certainly be on board. Almost everything else about it is aimed at keeping adult viewers interested, and it does a cool job.
The movie wastes no opportunity to fit a joke in, drawing on the proud — and sometimes not-so-proud — history of Batman media to fill itself with humor. It goes to great lengths to reward the comic book die-hards that come out to see it.
There’s a delightful mad-lib quality to the script. Gordon’s qualifications as commissioner, for instance, are that she graduated top of her class from Harvard for Police and cleaned up Blüdhaven with statistics and compassion. It approaches randomness as humor, but instead evokes wonder at how the story it’s referring to must have played out.
The humor may be a strong point, but once the bricks start flying, it’s time to tune out for a few minutes. “The Lego Batman Movie’s” action is just too busy to really appreciate, a sad end result for what was clearly a fun process.
The whole thing it kind of tough, because it essentially amounts to a long string of adult-oriented “in” jokes for Batman fans delivered at the blitzkrieg pace meant for younger viewers who won’t get the jokes. The content is aimed at one part of the audience, but the delivery is aimed at another. It’s strong enough that most viewers will appreciate their half of the bargain without complaint, but it’s always a shame to think that a movie could have been better.
For more, check out Knopp’s blog at reelentropy.com.