By Laurie Coker
“Everything is awesome” about the new Lego Batman movie! Director Chris McKay and a slew of writers give audiences a classic spoof film that delights viewers of all ages. It pays homage to every batman version (ever) and does so with flourish and impressive animated flare. The Lego Batman movie looks like typical child-geared fair, but witty storytelling and campy dialogue make it even more appealing to adults.
Batman (aka millionaire Bruce Wayne), voiced delightfully by Will Arnett, enjoys his life as a vigilante loner – swooping out of the night sky, saving Gotham from evil villains. Every evildoer in the Batman library of bad guys (and many from other fiction tales) shows up to wreak havoc on the city, led by the Joker (Zach Galifianakis), whose feelings are hurt because Batman won’t declare him the nastiest of the baddies and Batman’s one true villain – enter frowny face and a tear. Alfred, (Ralph Fiennes) concerned that Batman needs a family, manages to ensure that he adopts orphan, Dick Grayson (Michael Cera), who later becomes Robin. Police Commissioner Gordon (Hector Elizondo) retires and daughter Barbara (Rosario Dawson) steps into takes over, so the caped-crusader finds himself in the company of more help than he wants or thinks he needs.
The storytelling here is as simple and stock as possible, perfect for the little ones, but the imagery, innuendo, and parody plays well to an adult crowd –from comic book lovers to those who watched the colorful Adam West, 1960s television series. “Pew, pew, pew,” go the gun battles and there is a wonderful break, just before Batman and Robin, poised back-to-back, go into a fist fight. Batman pauses and makes reference to a barrage of onomatopoeia about to fill the screen, filling the auditorium with audible pleasure. CGI notwithstanding, the film’s appeal is built literally and figuratively on the wide appeal and longevity of the Lego line of construction toys – more so than even the well-known characters depicted in it.
The voice talent is a who’s who of famous actors, talk show hosts, and comedians and they are marvelous, delivering the creative dialogue with humor and enthusiasm. Irony abounds and while it might fly over youngsters’ heads, it delights adults. The Lego Batman Movie brings bright light into the shadowy world of the Dark Knight and allows the hero behind the mask to stop taking himself so seriously. The final song sequence pushes the light in the dark world metaphor perhaps a bit too far, but it is all in good fun anyway. McKay and his fantastic crew of animators and actors earn a solid A for Awesome!