It isn’t. But only a few beast footsteps past “is”.
One day in the city, some sort of monster made of inflated balloon begins wreaking havoc on a bright hot day and uses balloon-esque bubbles to float safes and gold into his hands. And the Teen Titans from the Teen Titans Go universe show up, and they make some progress, Beast Boy as a porcupine poking a hole right by the rear end, and Starfire giving a squeezing embrace to all the cutesy bear-shaped balloon animals and making them pop. Cyborg also manages to insert the CD helping introduce all the titans in their own special rap. But as they’re dancing around, three noteworthy DC superheroes (well, two, if you don’t count Green Lantern) save the day in about three seconds. No offense, they say to the titans, but the five of them aren’t real superheroes; they don’t even have a movie based on them. So the titans decide, at the advice of their leader Robin, to take a road trip down to Hollywood and convince the big boys to yell “Action!”
So why has Teen Titans Go! Been hated since Day One in 2013? Well, for starters, the original Teen Titans cartoon was all about superhero missions and internal conflicts, but this one is instead about five teens who act like seven-year-olds having their tower and island and unlimited resources to themselves. It also refused to acknowledge a cliffhanger from the earlier version of the cartoon many fans were anticipating, along with replacing the excitement and drama of the original with petulant songs, loud voices, overbright animation and even some toxic messages for kids. I haven’t seen any episodes for myself, but I’ve seen clips. Most of them were unbearable.
You know, there’s an ironic thing about Robin wanting his own movie, or better yet, these Teen Titans wanting their own movie. And I say “these” Teen Titans because they actually had already gotten a few movies; Divide and Conquer, Trouble in Tokyo, Justice League vs. Teen Titans, and The Judas Contract. It’s just these Teen Titans Go caricatures that haven’t yet. Superman and Wonder Woman and Green Lantern even say that the five of them are kind of just...jokesters. But the titans thrive to earn a 140-minute wide-release production. By these logistics, every cartoon or television show on the planet should deserve their own movie.
The movie manages to poke enough fun at itself to be conspicuous, making it so some people might say it’s not worth criticizing because it’s just having fun and not asking you to think about it too much; just let the jokes and zaniness flow as is. There end up being some flaws that feel this way. One is how in some terms, the titans actually commit murder. And another is how four of the five titans cause mischief despite their knowledge of the seriousness of the circumstances, for no apparent reason other than to tell a loud toilet joke and advance the plot through. But one of them that I felt does certainly deserve criticism is its overattraction to Scott Menville’s Robin. The movie and all its characters bow down to the mighty Batman-son as if he already saved the world once. His friends treat him like he’s such a great leader that they can’t function without him, and that without him they’d all be chumps. Hahahahahahahaha, yeah right. The Robin I’ve seen in the cartoon is just loud and annoying and doesn’t do anything with the goal of keeping the team sane when bad things, usually at the hands of themselves, escalate. This is apparent even more when the worst song hits “Play” and he’s shaking his booty right at us.
But I’m going to give some deserving credit. This movie has songs that really aren’t that bad. The last one is even very bearable and catchy. And there are some decent nods to the original and superior TV show, even the noticeable old theme song. There’s also a reference to The Lion King that I actually loved and there’s a few action scenes that embrace 2D animation nicely. Ironically, it was almost like it was trying to be like the old TV show all over again. And that is a good thing. And except for a very obnoxious and conceited song, it was bearable and toe-tapping. As well as one of the best Stan Lee cameos we’ll ever get and a surprising ode to Animaniacs.
At the end of the day, this is a movie where we’re asked to turn off our brains and laugh. People have even been saying this movie may have had flaws but the tone asks us to just have fun with how surprisingly unmediocre it is. But it was far from good enough to make me that lenient.