When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When life gives you LEGOs, then make a full length animated comedy movie that centers on an iconic DC Comics superhero. Yes, make “The LEGO Batman Movie”. This will cause great delight in young children and comic book nerds everywhere.
Based as a spin-off from the 2014 animated hit “The LEGO Movie”, this follow-up features the adventures of Batman (Will Arnett) who serves as the dark knight and the protector of Gotham City. When the city is threatened by a massive horde of villains led by the Joker (Zach Galifianakis), Batman saves the day. The commissioner retires, and his daughter Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) takes over.
Batman is helped in his other identity as Bruce Wayne by his loyal butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes). When Alfred tries to make Bruce/Batman be a little bit more caring and empathetic, he gets him to visit an orphanage. Bruce was once an orphan, too. Of course, being an orphan worth multi-millions is not the same as the ones that he visits.
Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) is an orphan who contacts Bruce and gets his OK to be adopted. Bruce was not paying attention when he said yes to Dick, but he decides that Batman needs a new partner. The Joker has been acting suspicious because he surrendered his whole crew to the new Commissioner Gordon. Joker does have some new tricks, but they involve getting even bigger baddies from a far-off prison.
Batman is obsessed with being a loner, a hero who does not need anyone for help. This new situation requires him to work with Dick, who now has a secret identity of Robin, and with Barbara Gordon, who creates a secret identity of Batgirl, and even butler Alfred, who, well, is still the butler, but he also dresses up in a costume. Batbutler?
The movie’s quick pacing of jokes and gags keeps you watching every part of the screen and listening to every word, and sometimes every background noise or musical cue. There are insider jokes about DC Comics, and pop culture reference that brings out laughs, snickers and guffaws. Even the basic first minutes of the movie, fading in from black, is done with a Batman voice-over that is totally on target. It is very funny and very true at the same time, and it will forever change how you see the very beginning of a movie.
Every voice actor in this movie is right up to speed with the comedy and pacing. But the best one is the self-centered, self-absorbed Batman, played by Will Arnett. His take on the Batman character in “The LEGO Movie” was outstanding. And here he takes it to even a greater place. It is enjoyable to hear him growl in his deep, self-important voice about how important Batman is to Gotham.
Ralph Fiennes has his usual great performance. Playing Alfred, he becomes a parental figure to Bruce Wayne/Batman, yet he is always ready to help out. Zach Galifianakis plays the Joker as a figure who needs to hate Batman as much as Batman needs to hate him. They both have a unique thing going on. Michael Cera is perfect as Grayson/Robin, all young and enthusiastic. And Rosario Dawson has a fun time playing Gordon/Batgirl, and she gives Batman a run for the money.
All in all, the movie could be called BAT-tastic. It is very well written in terms of jokes and comedy bits, and the story never lags. It will occasionally ramble here and there, but it stays on track. The visual scenes are chock-full of bright colors and incredible details, with many scenes a visual gag or a silent comedy bit. It is enjoyable to watch, and will all the small items that you want to catch, it would be just as fun on a second viewing.
Should you see this movie you will agree: it’s “The LEGO Batman” movie the World deserves, but also it is the one it needs right now!