The Lego Batman Movie carefully toes the line between parody and hitting the audience over the head. When it leans to the former it can be wholly enjoyable. However, when it crosses to the latter, it causes endless eye rolls. Yet, it also is somehow able to exist in a strange meta-medium of the two simultaneously.
On the surface many of the jokes are sometimes painful and idiotic. However, beneath the surface it cleverly mocks Batman or other subjects. This method clearly seems to be a ploy to entertain both children and adults. Yet disappointingly, it does so without the grace and fluidity of The Lego Movie. It does not really know how to create jokes that could appeal to both demographics, and even divides adults further. Some jokes are so nerd niche that they rely on “ask your nerd friend.” This is admittedly funny to anyone who gets the reference (specifically, this quote referenced Doctor Who) but it is disappointing that they did not even fully flesh out these jokes, pretending that reference is enough to be funny.
The Lego Movie was creative and exciting because it was through a child’s eyes. In contrast, The Lego Batman Movie feels like it is talking down to children. It is fairly nice that it provides a surprisingly nice lesson for a Batman movie. Otherwise, it just cannot compete with The Lego Movie to create the imaginative childlike wonder. With the two movies, it is great how they are able to capitalize on a variety of franchises that otherwise could not be combined, for example, Harry Potter and Star Wars. However, the combination feels more organic in The Lego Movie, while in The Lego Batman Movie it feels unnaturally forced together. Again, the references are really enjoyable, but the placement feels weak.
The visuals are outstanding. Similar to its predecessor, The Lego Batman Movie creates an intricate and colorful world build out of Lego. However, it sometimes becomes overwhelming. It is as if they knew they had the ability to create this world, so they threw as much as they could into it. The Lego Movie seems carefully thought out, with the worlds existing as if someone could build it. Meanwhile, The Lego Batman Movie’s visuals seem haphazardly thrown together to highlight spectacle over creativity.
As a Batman movie, The Lego Batman Movie is incredibly impressive. Batman had a surprisingly thorough character arc. This is the first time Batman has developed in any of the recent movies, besides the mandatory last thirty minutes of Dark Knight Rises. It was refreshing to actually be able to sympathize with Batman. Even though Batman existed in the movie to parody previous Batmen, it actually created an effective character.
The voice cast was exceptional. They all brought the characters to life and made them unique. Considering that this is a kid’s movie, the Joker could not actually be scary. A major theme in the movie is the hate story between Joker and Batman. Zack Galifianakis was able to bring vulnerability to the Joker yet still maintain his manic craziness, just toned down for children. Unfortunately, the other villains did not get a lot of screen time to develop, as the movie was already too full.
So much was going on in the movie that it was way too long. Individual scenes stand out and are definitely memorable and entertaining, but there are too many scenes stuffed in between. Overall, The Lego Batman Movie is enjoyable, but it is disappointing that it was not able to live up to its potential. B-