As a geek parent, I, for the most part, have been unsuccessful in passing on my enthusiasms to my teen and tween daughters. Sure, my eldest is now a confirmed Potterhead, but only years after her mother and I bequeathed her our books, which she refused to read because they were ours. She discovered and fell in love with Stranger Things on her own, too, which I guess is what works with her — if we’d told her to watch it, maybe she wouldn’t have listened. Her younger sister is a bit more open to my suggestions, and loves anything with magic and the fantastic, and she happily displays my gifts of Pop! figures of strong female characters on her shelf. However, she scares very, very easily, so attempts to watch Star Wars movies, for example, are interrupted by frequents runs out of the room or outright refusals, no matter how much likes likes the characters.
Teen Titans GO!, Cartoon Network’s irreverent, joke- and music-filled take on the off-duty life of a diverse adolescent team, has been an awesome, painless introduction to the on-screen world of comic book superheroes, one that my youngest doesn’t have to run out of the room from, with her hands over her ears. So when we were asked to rep the NOC at a family press screening of Teen Titans GO! To the Movies, the show’s first big-screen outing, all of us, even big sister, were happy and excited to go.
Plot-wise, the movie finds Robin jealously coveting the respect and status that having a movie about oneself connotes, and tired of being laughed at by the likes of the Justice League, he and his teammates seek out an arch-nemesis in order to merit a movie of their own. Along the way, there are bodily function jokes galore, callbacks to the TV show (pancakes, anyone?), and insanely catchy musical numbers like Robin’s narcissistic daydream “It’s My Movie (My Movie, My Superhero Movie)” and the Gen-X parent-service ode to ’80s movie conventions that is “Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life.” And just like that song, which is chockful of poking-fun-because-we-love-it references to the pop culture the parents of the movie’s target audience grew up with, the film is peppered with nods and jokes that will operate on a whole other level for the grown-ups in the audience. From failed Superman Nicolas Cage voicing the Man of Steel and jokes at the expense of Green Lantern, to light-hearted jabs at genre conventions like cross-publisher character similarities and good villain names (big bad Deathstroke is never referred as such, only as “Slaaaaaaaaaade” — when he’s not called Deadpool, that is), the movie is full of winks and nods just for the grownups.
As for kids, or rather, my kids: they loved it. Even the teenager. They laughed at all the potty jokes and loved the songs and running gags. Together they have been singing “Upbeat Inspirational Song About Love” non-stop since the screening, and are quite peeved that Alexa can’t play it when they ask for it. And my little one, who wants to be an actor and performer herself, quickly memorized “My Movie” after one viewing (it does reprise a lot) and busts out with it at home without warning. (“It’s all about me” is a sentiment a kid can relate to, after all.)
All in all, it was a great day celebrating a fun family movie.
Teen Titans GO! to the Movies is a giant, loving poke-in-the-eye at superhero movies and the nerdy pop culture world they helped spawn that we now live in. It’s something that kids and their parents can enjoy together and on different levels. And yes, it’s full of fart jokes and musical numbers, but it’s fun, and it’s funny, and it’s the exact opposite of dark and tortured, and it may just be the superhero movie our families need right now.