The LEGO Batman Movie

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Laura Clifford 
The LEGO Batman Movie

Robin Clifford 

The Caped Crusader (voice of Will Arnett) says he doesn't need anyone.  He crushes The Joker (voice of Zach Galifianakis) by telling him he 'fights around.'  He ignores Dick Grayson (voice of Michael Cera), the orphan he inadvertently adopted until Alfred (voice of Ralph Fiennes) suggests he needs guidance and he fights to retain the limelight when the ass-kicking Barbara Gordon (voice of Rosario Dawson) takes over from her dad and suggests Batman hasn't rid Gotham City of crime in "The LEGO Batman Movie."

Laura:
Spinning off "The Lego Movie's" message, that creativity is more important than following rules, "The LEGO Batman Movie" makes super heroes fun again by diving into the toy chest and mixing things up.  While Batman faces off against The Joker, Harley Quinn (voice of Jenny Slate), The Riddler (voice of Conan O'Brien), The Penguin, Bane and Poison Ivy, he must also come to grips with The Condiment King and such franchise crossovers as Voldemort (voice of Eddie Izzard), King Kong (voice of Seth Green), Godzilla and The Eye of Sauron (voice of Jermaine Clement).  But this film's more about relationships - father and son, superhero and arch enemy, mentor and protege, the law and vigilante, Batman and Superman (voice of Channing Tatum).

"The LEGO Movie's" Christopher Miller and Phil Lord return as producers, handing over directorial reins to that film's animation director, Chris McKay (also one of five credited screenwriters).  Although McKay's film also builds from Lego pieces, it looks different from its predecessor, darker and accented by 'real world' special effects like rain.  There's a little less awe to be found in the Lego inspiration, but the jokes fly fast and furiously.

Will Arnett maintains his egocentric, somewhat jerkish persona from the first film as Batman clings to his loner status.  With a prod from Alfred, Dick surprises Batman in his Robin persona (Robin's cape is lined with sequins, his costume a bright glittery contrast to his mentor's) and while he grabs credit for a successful mission with others at his side, Batman begins to turn around.  But after figuring out he wasn't invited to the 57th Justice League Party, Batman's ego gets the better of him and in a sulk, he inadvertently gives The Joker exactly what the villain's angling for.

The filmmakers have fun with such subtle tricks as using Siri as the voice of Batman's 'Puter and more obvious kicks goofing on the original 60's series.  The Joker outs Batman's inner longings when he finds his movie cache ("Must Love Dogs" and "Serendipity") and Batman reveals his dislikes with his password ('Iron Man sucks').  The film's climax is an action spectacular right out of the live action playbook, except here we have a Lego brick, Phyllis (voice of Ellie Kemper), who analyzes potential Phantom Zone entrants.

"The LEGO Batman Movie" is so packed with silliness, it should continue to reward over repeat viewings.   Your move, Marvel.

Grade:  B+

Robin:
Robin did not see this film.
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