THE DRAWING BOARD — We all have cartoons that defined our childhood.
They are usually limited to a fairly narrow time frame, so it’s easy to define the era we grew up in by just a handful of cartoons. When I was younger, it was "Bugs Bunny" and "Scooby Doo," and I moved up through cartoons like "Voltron," "Thundercats," and finally, "G.I. Joe" as I got older.
I can’t help but wonder if Cartoon Network's "Teen Titans Go" will be one of the cartoons that defines this era of childhood.
"Teen Titans Go!" follows five teenage superheroes, Robin, Cyborg, Beast Boy, Raven and Starfire, as they do their part to fight crime.
My initial impression as I would catch glimpses of the show was that it was obnoxious and loud. That impression didn't change until I was spending an unproductive afternoon with my daughter watching more highbrow cartoons and then “Teen Titans Go!” came on.
To my surprise, I actually enjoyed it. Sure it was loud, irreverent and full of more potty jokes than open mic night at a kindergarten comedy club, but despite the surface immaturity, there was some really great writing and actual adult humor that connected.
“Teen Titans Go!” has been doing really well for Cartoon Network so they figured they should take it up a notch and put out a full length theatrical release. This weekend we get "Teen Titans Go! To the Movies" and there is a lot to like about it if you have the energy. If you don’t, it’s going to be a long 90 minutes.
Here is my list of what worked and what didn't in the movie:
The writing is smart
If you are only mildly familiar with the cartoon, this may seem completely insane because as I mentioned, this cartoon franchise is filled with potty humor.
However, if you are willing to endure the poop jokes, you will probably find some nuggets of humor that you alone will relate to, leaving your kids completely confused by the reference.
In one scene, we get a reference to Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor that no one under the age of 35 will get. Add onto that a lot of superhero universe crossover jokes that poke fun at the Marvel Cinematic Universe — including a cameo by someone you would never expect to be part of a DC movie.
I won't spoil anything, but the movie is totally worth it for that cameo alone.
The music is catchy
This movie is also a bit of a musical. It sounds crazy, but it works, and some fairly impressive names were recruited to help out.
Again, I don’t want to spoil anything, but watch the end credits to see who sings “Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life.” You won’t be disappointed.
It’s annoying, but you will probably get at least one song from the movie stuck in your head by the time you leave the theater.
The voice acting is strong
Aside from the previously mentioned cameo, some respectable names lent their voices to this movie including Will Arnett, Jimmy Kimmel, Kristen Bell and Nicolas Cage, in addition to the regular cast.
Cage’s performance in particular will go down as what I consider to be one of the best examples of good sportsmanship I have ever seen in Hollywood (and you may agree if you are at all familiar with Cage’s relationship to the DC Universe.)
It's obnoxiously loud
True to form, “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies” does not stray from its obnoxious roots. In fact, it takes the opportunity to plant them deeper.
It could be argued that this film is the PG-rated DC Comics answer to Marvel’s “Deadpool," and it hints at that in the movie trailer. Being limited to a PG rating, they couldn’t add the swear words and gore “Deadpool” does so they tended to spread the bathroom humor on pretty thick at points.
There are a lot of jump cuts and excessive edits to give you just a bit of a carsick feeling. The volume of the film bordered on insane, which I know sounds so "old man" of me.
Regardless, this is not the type of kids movie you can expect to relax at with your grandkids on a Saturday afternoon. Your kids may be fine with it, but you might feel some anxiety.
I don’t know if “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies” has what it takes to define an era of cartoons for kids, but this film might have a good shot. You may become a fan yourself if you can sit through the nonsense and look for the humor that is intended for adults.
A quick note on content
It is usually not necessary to put a content disclaimer on a PG-rated movie made for kids, but “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies” is the rare gem.
It's more than a little crude at times, and this film will definitely appeal to a child's innate desire to tell fart jokes. Depending on your comfort level with this type of humor and your own children’s sensibilities, you may want to consider keeping the really young kids at home.
"Teen Titans Go! To the Movies" is rated PG for action and rude humor.