“The LEGO Batman Movie”: a film self-aware of its own chaos

3.5/5 ***-

“The LEGO Batman Movie,” 2017, is an animated film directed by Chris McKay. The story follows Gotham’s vigilante hero, Batman/Bruce Wayne (Will Arnett), as he struggles to defeat the Joker (Zack Galifianakis) and navigate parenting his accidental adoptee, Dick Grayson/Robin (Michael Cera) with help from his loyal butler, Alfred (Ralph Finnes) and Commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson). While the film is not 100% accurate to the comic book canon, it is still an extremely fun film that can make people of all ages laugh. 

To start off, the humor in the film is very well done. While a lot of the jokes are very childish, there is still a lot of charm in them and there are still a lot of subtle humor that may not be easy to catch on first watch. Jokes about Batman not paying his taxes (because he is a billionaire) or a joke about Dick’s name might go over a child’s head but sticks out to the adults watching. Batman’s entire character is also extremely funny. Will Arnett does a very good job voicing Batman and making his narcissistic and self-centered personality hilarious, believable and charming. Arnett and the film’s writers also do a good job balancing out the humor that is attached to Batman’s narcissism as well as the traumatic reasons behind his behavior and having his character arc reflect that.  

Batman’s character arc in the film is learning to accept help from other people and be part of a family once more, as he is scared to lose them like how he lost his parents. When he first realizes that he accidentally adopted Dick at a gala, he does not see him as his kid and instead uses him to steal the Phantom Zone Projector from Superman (Channing Tatum), a device that sends villains to a space prison, so he can use it on the Joker. As the film goes on, however, and he starts to hang out with and bond with Dick, he grows to care for him. Once he realizes that he is starting to find a family again, he becomes scared that he is going to lose them and abandons Alfred, Dick and Barbara to go fight the Joker alone. He however fails and that is when he finally realizes that he needs help from his newfound family to save Gotham. 

On top of the well written humor and characters, the film leans very heavily into just how chaotic and childish the film is. The film constantly nods at how long Batman stories have been around, like Bruce Wayne saying he is Gotham’s most eligible bachelor for “90 years straight” and Joker saying that the two have been fighting for over 70 years. There are also multiple references to the comics as well, like Batman mentioning the Suicide Squad, the team of DC villains and antiheroes and Dick putting on a costume called “Nightwing,” making a reference to Dick Greyson’s later superhero name. However, what tops off the film’s chaos is the fact that the Phantom Zone introduces villains from other stories, from Voldemort from “Harry Potter,” to Sauron from “Lord of the Rings,” to King Kong. While the inclusion of those villains makes the film extremely chaotic, it works because the film is aware of that fact and the crossovers just add to the films enjoyability and humor. 

Overall, “The LEGO Batman Movie” is an extremely fun film that is well animated and well written. All of the characters are extremely fun to watch and are all written with their own distinct type of humor. The film does not take itself too seriously, making it a wildly entertaining watch.