Adam: Welcome to Reserved Seating. I’m Adam Riske.
Rob: And I’m Rob DiCristino. In The LEGO Batman Movie, the Caped Crusader (Will Arnett) must yet again save Gotham City from his famous rogues gallery (led by Zach Galifianakis as The Joker), who plan to blow it up or set it on fire or something. But when new police commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) outlaws vigilante justice, Batman must learn to work within the system to save the day. Kind of. They sort of drop that along the way. Anyway, since movies also need emotional stakes, Bruce Wayne must give up his lonely bachelor lifestyle and open his heart to his new ward, Dick Grayson (Michael Cera, full twee).
Adam: In this clip, Batman gets the news from Commissioner Gordon that the police force has plans to work alongside the longtime vigilante.
This is a relatively quiet scene in the film. While still filled with one-liners, it doesn’t have the manic quality of the rest of the movie. It’s a quality I grew very tired of very quickly. It’s difficult not to compare The LEGO Batman Movie with The LEGO Movie from a few years back, which was similarly exhausting but also fresh and clever enough to recommend with little reservation. Here we have a one-joke idea stretched past the breaking point of a 104 minute running time. Boy, did this movie get on my nerves around 30 minutes in. By the climax I was totally zoned out.
Rob: There’s enough material here for a 60-minute DTV animated special, but things really drag when we get the same few gags shuffled and repeated over and over to pad things out to feature length. I understand you’ve got kids’ attention spans to worry about, but there was very little in the way of plot propulsion (which is absolutely possible and welcome in a kids movie) or character growth. It’s also a perfect example of why producing a sequel centered on the stand-out character from the original film (and depending on the audience's love for that character’s charisma to carry things) is almost always a bad idea. He works in doses but that shit gets old fast. Even Batman gets old fast.
Adam: It’s a peanut gallery. It reminded me of the teens in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, who prove how much they love film by MAKING FUN OF FILMS. This is cynicism to the hilt. Everything about The LEGO Batman Movie rubbed me the wrong way. We get a joke, then a music cue, then a whip pan, then a zoom in and repeat every 10 seconds. It’s certainly a dense movie (in that it’s packed with gags), but it becomes too much muchness.
Rob: Oh god, I just remembered that Me and Earl and the Dying Girl existed. Douche chills. Anyway, I was really with the movie for the opening sequence. I thought the commentary on how unnecessarily grandiose and complicated the Bat Plots tend to be was introducing something interesting (especially for kids who might be learning that movies have seams and that you can see them if you look close enough), but it lost all its goodwill by the second bloated action sequence in which Batman’s isolation issues are introduced AGAIN. For the SECOND time.
Rob: The entire movie is pitched at one joke and one tone, and it’s really unfortunate to see so much time and talent wasted. It’s like JB said last week: you have to DO the thing if you’re going to make fun of the thing.
Adam: Yes! You can’t make fun of Batman movies and then be worse than many other Batman movies. The movie felt like a roast. What’s wrong with making a Batman movie out of LEGOs aimed at kids? Here it comes: I would rather watch Batman & Robin twice than watch 30 minutes of this movie again.
Rob: Oh shit! Hot take! Hotter take: So would I. Batman & Robin’s goofy charm comes from more varied directions, which makes it a bit more tolerable (a bit). To borrow your phrase, The LEGO Batman Movie is hundreds and hundreds of wasted pop culture calories. Oh look, Superman! Oh look, The Flash! There’s a Batman Beyond suit! And look, no disrespect to the artists who took lots of care in filling every frame with fun stuff for those paying close attention, but they forgot to make a movie first. Kids are capable of handling a lot more nuanced ideas than “even cool people are nice.” If Warner Bros. is going to make ten thousand LEGO spin-offs, they’d better learn that just shoving a bunch of licensed characters into a movie together doesn’t mean the movie will work.
Adam: I would like to pivot and say something nice about the picture but I can’t. There’s nothing that I liked. I found the whole experience to be obnoxious.
Rob: I liked when Gordon said that her plan was to fight crime with statistics and compassion. That line made me giggle. I also thought Will Arnett would start getting on my nerves, but since he wasn’t ever asked to vary up his performance aside from the standard grumble, it all become white noise. So. Yeah.
Adam: I don’t normally address the audience on our program, but I’m going to this time. Be gentle. I didn’t like the movie. I know the vast majority of you like it. That’s fine. I’m kinda jealous. We can disagree. Be gentle.
Rob: And look, I like The LEGO Movie and I like Batman. I have big problems with pretty much all of the live action incarnations of the character, but I was rooting for this movie. It just fell so far below its potential that by the sixty-minute mark, I was cringing and squirming in my seat.
Adam: So you and I are fans of the character and some of the films. What are your five favorite movies that have featured the Batman character? Also, who is your favorite Bruce Wayne and who is your favorite Batman?
Rob: The Officially Correct Internet Nerd Answer to the Batman questions is Kevin Conroy. But I like Kilmer’s Wayne (because I like Batman Forever more than I should) and, honestly, Affleck’s Batman. If we’re willing to go outside the big screen, I think my favorite version of Batman is that from the Arkham game series. You?
Adam: One sec, bub. Five favorite Batman movies? Go!
Rob: Sorry, whenever you talk for more than a few seconds, I start spacing out and thinking about aluminum siding and stuff like that. Let’s see. The Dark Knight, Batman Forever, Batman Begins, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, and Batman Returns, because Michelle Pfeiffer’s catsuit did things to me as a young man that I just wasn’t prepared for.
Batman (1989). Best Bruce Wayne is Christian Bale. Best Batman is Michael Keaton. I have never watched any animated Batman. No subtext there, just circumstance.
Rob: Try to check out Mask of the Phantasm, if you can. I think it’s like $3 on Amazon.
Adam: I’ve had 24 years. It’s not going to happen. What’s your favorite Batman song? For me it’s “Kiss from a Rose,” but “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me,” “Batdance,” and that Smashing Pumpkins one in Batman & Robin are all good. Why didn’t the Nolan ones have a hot single?
Rob: Because there’s nothing hot about Christopher Nolan. That dude is a wet blanket. Gut instinct: I’m going with the ‘89 Elfman theme. Final answer.
Adam: The unofficial theme to the Nolan Batman’s is Sting and Eric Clapton’s “It’s Probably Me” from the opening credits of Lethal Weapon 3. It’s morose, kinda jazzy and sets the tone that everything is Batman’s fault.
Rob: But we digress. The LEGO Batman Movie is not great. Mark Off.
Adam: Mark Off for me too. Join us next week when Rob & I don’t review a new movie because Get Out is not being screened for us. The studio caught us red-handed and let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. So instead, we’re going to settle the 28-year old debate of which is better: Turner & Hooch or K-9. Until next time…
Rob: These seats are reserved.