This is going to be a long intro, guys… but I’ve got stuff to say.
“Steve, what kid’s shows do you think hold the test of time for you…”
I’d say Beast Wars.
“…without needing nostalgia goggles?”
There are only three that come to mind: Avatar: The Last Airbender, Young Justice, and Teen Titans.
The original Teen Titans show holds a nice place in my mind as a show that I’ve revisited and still enjoy watching. It’s not some sort of breathtaking story, but it seemed to balance out the serious with the silly, the dark tones with the lighthearted tones, and the mature humor with the stupid “random” humor kids seem to love. It seemed interested in developing great characters without making them so complex that kids watching it would get confused and/or lose interest.
The show had a decent run from 2003-2006, and it gained a large following from not just boys, but girls as well (my wife being one of them).
Fast-forward to 2014, and my friend and I start flipping through channels trying to find something good on TV. And to our surprise, a new Teen Titans show was on Cartoon Network, but with newer, sillier animation. Gone was the serious, the dark tones, and mature humor. In exchange, we got a massive extra helping of silliness, lightheartedness, and “randomness” without anything to counter it.
But what the heck? Both of us loved Teen Titans, so we decided to give “Teen Titans Go!” a shot.
We gave up after less than ten minutes.
The years go by, and despite an overwhelming majority of voices expressing disdain for Teen Titans Go!, the show continued, lasting one full year longer than the original.
Shoot, I’ve even had a small handful of defenders of Teen Titans Go!, saying stuff ranging from “It’s not as bad as people say it is”, all the way to “It’s very entertaining and intelligent!”
Okay… but I’ve heard people say VERY similar things about My Little Pony, and when I gave that spunk-gargle-fest a shot, I severely regretted it.
But I realize that just because X is true does not always mean that Y is, even if they’re similar. So I went off to go see it.
And guys, I’m very excited…
…It’s been quite a bit of time since I’ve gotten to write a review of a theatrical movie I genuinely hate.
“Teen Titan’s Go! To the Movies” is an absolute chore to watch. Its lack of self control is matched only by its incessant need to repeat unfunny jokes over, and over, and over again.
What’s so weird about this movie is that it’s hyper aware of all the criticisms lobbed against it. The movie constantly has detractive characters come at our rebranded heroes with the same lines over and over again: “You’re all just a bunch of jokes” and “You don’t take anything seriously”. This may seem like snarky self-awareness and eventual self-acceptance, but it never seems to do anything with this self-awareness other than acknowledging the fact that people hate this new brand of Teen Titans.
In fact, this criticism basically has its hands all over the plot, as if to double down on the fact that they’re a lesser form of what came before.
Every single character is watered down and one-dimensional. As with “My Little Pony: The Movie”, every single person has the exact same character trait (in this case, obnoxious silliness), with one additional trait to attempt pseudo-differentiation.
We have Starfire, a silly and obnoxious character that constantly uses the word “the” in inappropriate grammatical ways, and that’s it.
We have Beast Boy, a silly and obnoxious character that speaks like he’s trying desperately to be hood, and that’s it.
We have Robin, a silly and obnoxious character who wants his own movie, and that’s it.
We have Raven, a silly and obnoxious character who very occasionally acts emo, and that’s it.
And we have Cyborg, a silly and obnoxious character who is also black, and that’s it.
These one-dimensional characters are so bafflingly uninteresting and annoying.
What’s worse is that the main villain, Slade, is not only not taken seriously, but he also is a catalyst for repetitive, unfunny jokes.
Hey, did you know that Deadpool and Slade are similar? Did you know that???? Well I hope you love jokes that exploit that over and over again.
Hey did you know that the name “Slade” is menacing to say (SLLAAAAAAADE)? Well, they make close to a dozen sequential jokes about it. It was so funny, guys. IT’S SO FREAKING FUNNY, GUYS.
This movie even has a “Martha” joke in it… a joke that has been done to death already, and they somehow found a way to make that joke sterile, thoughtless, and obnoxious too.
And this is a very crucial point about this movie: the problem isn’t that Teen Titans Go! is silly; it’s that it lacks any sort of self control to know when to stop. And when you don’t know how to stop being the same thing over and over again, the result is inevitably meaninglessness at best, and severe irritation at worst (or in this movie’s case, both).
What’s even more disappointing about this is that this movie also seems to want to deconstruct popular super hero movie tropes. And more than a few times, they actually do have some funny observations and quips. But these observations are always followed by mind-numbing silliness, randomness, and childishness.
The plot is repetitive and banal. There is of course a conflict transition that is not only poorly thought out and quickly resolved, but it additionally didn’t make any damn sense.
I hate this movie, guys.
This film experiments with different types of animation, but there was no intelligent or meaningful purpose for doing so other than to be extra silly and random.
So what can we learn from “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies”? A few things:
1. The fact that you’re self-aware of people hating you doesn’t mean that it gives you license to double down and expect different results.
2. If you want to mock film tropes in a certain genre, it defeats the purpose of doing so if your movie is absolute shit.
3. It is okay to be silly. It is not okay if silly is the only trick in your bag.
4. Satire is not funny if you have nothing to say about what you’re satirizing.
Essentially, if you’re a child and/or you’re a fan of Teen Titans Go!, I imagine you will get a lot of enjoyment from this movie. As for me, I simply cannot appreciate movies that are monotonous in tone. It makes the movie boring, and it removes any tension, meaning, and depth.
The movie simply exhausted me and bored me to death. It was like getting waterboarded with obnoxiousness. I do not recommend it. Would not bang. Would not pass go and collect $200. Screw it. I’m going to bed.