*TLBM=The Lego Batman Movie

The Lego Batman Movie is a spin-off of the spectacular The Lego Movie and centers on Batman as he is driven to stop the Joker once and for all while struggling to become part of a family again.

Much like The Lego Movie, TLBM is jam-packed with clever humor while balancing a story that can be taken seriously. The first 20 minutes never lets up on the jokes and it perfectly sets the stage for the rest of the movie. Batman fights every villain in his rogue’s gallery you can think of as he throws out quip after quip and even raps as he punches, flips, and kicks. When done right, TLBM hits the mark the same way The Lego Movie did with every bit of heart and humor that makes it so enjoyable. However, The Lego Movie knew when to break and be a simple story. TLBM does not.

Before I get into what about this movie is wrong, some praises are in order. Will Arnett owns it as Batman with just enough gruff combined with light-heartedness to be the perfect choice for this unique spin on the Dark Knight. He never takes himself too seriously like the current DC films are, and even when he broods, a joke breaks the silence and holds the audience from tears until the moment is right.

The first act, as well as half of the second, are a solid Batman story. The first two-thirds of this movie is about Batman trying to learn that he can’t defeat every villain ever on his own; he needs someone to help him. Superheroes may be super, but even they need saving. While the Bat Family is a large part of the character’s mythology, it has never been explored in a film in a manner that does Alfred, Robin, and Barbara Gordon justice. TLBM does an excellent job of handling all three of those characters as it puts them where they fit best in this story. Alfred is concerned for Bruce and tries to teach him that he can’t live his life alone. Robin idolizes Batman and gives him a reason to go on. Barbara puts Batman in check, makes him stop and think, and becomes a motivation for him to do better. These are the most ideal ways to write these characters when adapting them into any story, and the movie’s team of writers finally brought the Bat Family to the big screen the way they deserve. However, it is a shame they could not make a compelling Batman & Joker story.

Every Batman is only as good as his Joker. Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger, and Mark Hamill stand out as the greatest adaptations of the Joker as they challenged their respective Batmen through the true insanity of the Clown Prince of Crime. A great Joker is always trying to push Batman over the edge with his own signature blend of chaos, anarchism, and criminal genius. Zach Galifianakis’ Joker possesses none of those. In fact, the way the Joker is written in TLBM is the root of most of this movie’s problems. This Joker is obsessed with making Batman admit that he is his greatest enemy. While he may have a surprise plan that involves the largest collection of villains in any movie ever, none of it ever feels the least bit clever or intriguing. Joker makes the movie exhausting with his never-ending fixation of proving himself as Batman’s number one foe combined with his convoluted, over-stuffed plot to destroy Gotham and overwhelm Batman than he was in all four Arkham video games combined. For those who have not played any of those games, Batman fights over a dozen villains in each game. The Joker’s dialogue is begging Batman/Joker shippers to litter the Internet with slash fiction of the two. Even though the movie is not trying to portray them as attempting to have a romantic relationship, people will interpret it as that. He may not be doing a live-action portrayal of the character, but Galifianakis is the worst Joker ever. And yes, I am including Jared Leto. At least he was insane that came a lot closer to what the Joker is supposed to be.

Humor is never a bad thing in movies as long as it entertains the audience. TLBM is a funny movie, but after a while, the amount of laughs in my theater grew thin to the point of not even generating an audible chuckle. About an hour into the 106-minute runtime, the movie stops being funny and only attempts to be so. There are a couple of specific instances in which the same kind of jokes would be funny elsewhere, but instead, you will end up gesturing for the scene to move ahead because it falls flat. This is something that is non-existent in The Lego Movie. The humor never got dry, every joke landed just right, and it was never overbearing. Throughout the last half of the second act and throughout the third, TLBM ceases to be funny and will leave you begging for the humor to find its style from the previous 40 minutes.

Overall, The Lego Batman Movie will satisfy those looking for a great Bat Family story, but disappoints due to its lack of a compelling adversary and failure to keep the humor creative and entertaining.

The Lego Batman Movie gets a B-

“We all wake up in the morning wanting to live our lives the way we know we should. But we usually don’t, in small ways. That’s what makes a character like Batman so fascinating. He plays out our conflicts on a much larger scale.”-Christopher Nolan, director of The Dark Knight Trilogy

Lately, I have started to use pictures to show how I feel about the movie I am reviewing. I used two pictures this time to emphasize my mixed feelings towards The Lego Batman Movie.

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