Howdy, folks. It’s Chad again. While you might be reading this with your Sunday morning coffee or after a trip out to brunch, in my world, it’s Friday night and I’ve just gotten back from seeing Teen Titans Go! To the Movies with the fam. We packed our big kiddo (7 years old), our little kiddo (8 months old), the Mrs. and the old Chadster into our version of the family truckster and headed out to the fading but still there relic of the American past–the drive-in theater.
Side note: I hate the drive-in experience. Hate is too strong of a word. I’m not a drive-in fan if it’s my first time seeing a movie. It’s fun for a movie that I’m not really into or have already seen once before already. If I already know the context, it doesn’t bother me as much. Otherwise, there’s too much going on. The screen’s too far away. The view of screen is blocked slightly by the monster trucks people bring. Kids are running around and finding their way back from the bathroom to the wrong car. You’re not my kid, kid. Scram! The people smoking around kids (my kids especially) drives me crazy. Then, the car next to me isn’t listening to the movie audio, but the Pirate game instead? Change that station, jerky! Then my wife pauses mid-movie to remind me to look at the blood moon or to pass bug spray or to change the baby into pajamas. There’s time for all that once the movie is done! Except the smoking! Watch the movie. You don’t have these problems in the cinemagicmulitiplex xd-hd-imax-dolby-super-surround 5.1×1000 experience like you do in the drive in. There aren’t monster trucks or babies or smokers or blood moons or mosquitoes or baby pajamas. Usually.
On the other hand, my wife loves the drive-in experience. She doesn’t remember going to theaters often growing up (although she’s sure she did), but she remembers the capital E Experience of going to the drive-in every time, she claims. So we went to the drive-in.
Teen Titans Go! is a unique beast. Many fans begrudge the cartoon because it spun out of the more serious-action-adventure Teen Titans cartoon from the early 2000’s, only this time, Go! was aimed at a much sillier crowd. To paraphrase the movie, the Go! Titans aren’t out fighting crime, they’re out finding the best sandwiches or having booty shaking dance routines, or changing the world economy to a bee-based economy to teach Robin a lesson after Robin tries to teach Beast Boy a lesson about money. That last one wasn’t in the movie, but it was a recent episode I caught this week. It’s weird; it’s madcap; it’s silly; and it’s not for everyone. That’s ok. I like it. My kid likes it. We both enjoy the older cartoon, too, but this is different. There are enough semi-serious action-adventure cartoons out there right now. If that’s your scene that you can leave this one for the little kids who like jokes about farts or bee stings. There aren’t many cartoons that reach the levels of insanity found in Teen Titans Go! It might not be for you, but there are a ton of people it is for, so let us have it. Go watch the new Voltron instead if you need action adventure. (Seriously. That’s a good one.)
It’s ironic (to me at least) that Go! defined “not for everyone and that’s ok” and is simultaneously partially responsible for my tizzy regarding the recently dropped live action Titans trailer. That trailer dropped another notable bomb of the “f” variety. My reaction was pure disgust and fanboy rage. I struggled not only because the Robin in my head wouldn’t be shooting (at?) criminals and dropping F bombs. I balked because these characters are already being marketed quite heavily towards kids. Is there honestly so much of a need for a mature-audiences version of these characters you’re going to put it out concurrently with a kids’ show? I see that as a very low-class move on DC entertainment’s part. At least pretend to care about the kids enough to keep your grim and gritty mitts off of the kid characters. Go wild with Doom Patrol or the Outsiders or Suicide Squad, but if you’ve earmarked these characters for a kid show, keep them kid friendly.
I also want to point out that my nerd rage was not directed at the actress playing Starfire on the show. She shuttered her social media accounts due to the despicable outpourings of internet trolls gone too far. “Fans” took umbrage with her appearance from a teaser commercial and went after the actress herself. It’s extra ridiculous considering the show hasn’t even aired a full episode! This is only one of the most recent in a long line of actors and actresses suffering from toxic and abusive fandom. Certain fans want so badly to protect their vision of what the Titans universe is or the Star Wars universe is that they forget to be decent human beings. Not all fans are toxic but there are enough out there that it drags down the whole perception of fandom. If you don’t like a show or movie, don’t watch it. Don’t cyberstalk and intimidate the people making the show. There are other shows and movies out there for you. Don’t hound message boards or social media with your barrage of negativity. Just move on. Leave it for the people who enjoy that thing and go find your own thing to enjoy. Live and let live.
Does that make me hypocritical for railing against the mature Titans series? Can I just let that live, too? I guess, but I won’t like it. I can promise you that I won’t go on Titans live action message boards to rail against the show. I just won’t watch it. That’s ok, too. I’ve got enough awesome shows to keep me busy. Did I mention Voltron? I’m so far behind, but it’s so good!
Back to the Titans Go! movie. It’s good, too!
If you enjoy the show then you know what you’re getting tone-wise. The basic plot involves Robin trying to finally get his own movie, first by eliminating the other heroes in a really fun sequence that old school dc fans will either love or find sacrilegious or both. Then, it’s all about finding a good bad guy. Through both plot premises, you get plenty of meta-commentary on the state of super hero movies as TTGTTM takes plenty of shots to sacred cows from both DC and Marvel. Heck, the movie starts with a Marvel-style page flip of old Titans comics that took me a half a second to say, “waitaminute! That’s not a DC thing!” Batman vs. Superman’s “Martha” gets a mention. The Slade Wilson/Deadpool connections are played up quite a bit. Obligatory celebrity cameos creep in. Tons of in-jokes and easter eggs abound, especially for longtime DC fans. I was surprised how much the movie acknowledged the competition, but it is all in good fun. It’s not all inside jokes, as there’s still plenty of juvenile humor for kids and immature dads like me to enjoy. And, like any good movie aimed at little kids, friendship and being yourself wins the day– even if you have baby hands.
Another aspect of Teen Titans Go! to be admired: the Dan Hipp art design is all over this movie. Do you follow @misterhipp on twitter? You should. You show up for the Teen Titans stuff and you stay for the Skeletors and the Rocketeers and the Batmans and so many darn fine sketches. He’s an incredible artist who shares so much.
I’d like to say the Dan Hipp influence was my favorite part of the movie, but it was really the time travel scene with the totally rad moves. The Hipp art is still really fun though. My wife’s favorite part involved a poo joke. My 7 year old loved the songs. My 8 month old loved smashing a strawberry into the blanket. Maybe there IS something here for everybody!
I have only two nitpicks about the movie experience:
- The previews gave too much away. I saw the time travel scene on Cartoon Network earlier this week :-(. The Slade/Deadpool convo was one of the first trailers. The giant robot bubble guy was already out there. There was just too much I had already seen before we parked at the drive-in.
- The drive-in experience makes it really rough for me to enjoy a movie for the first time. Too many distractions kept me from being to focus on finding all the little things going on in this movie. Whereas the live action Titans won’t see my money, I’m going to have to pay to see Go! again to catch all the little stuff I missed. There was too much to take in during a drive-in viewing!
It’s a fun romp that kids can enjoy, comic book nerds can enjoy (if they allow themselves), and hipp-ster art fans can enjoy (go follow Hipp’s Twitter!). Even my wife who isn’t usually into the feature-length cartoons was into this one. She’s the responsible, respectable parent! Here she was laughing at poop jokes! The regular Titans Go! cast brings their A-game, and contributions from celebs like Will Arnett (such a great voice), Nic Cage (finally as Superman!), Patton Oswalt, Michael Bolton (?!) and many more contribute solid efforts as well. The music was solid and I’m sure some of the songs will earworm their way into my brain for the next few days. It isn’t Shakespeare, but I still like the Titans Go! Universe for what it is.
Final Grade for Teen Titans Go! To the Movies: A-
In closing, I was on my way back with the fam tonight after the show. The kiddos were both passed out asleep in the back of the car, and I was discussing the movie with the wife. We compared notes and discussed how we both enjoyed the show. I got whiny for a minute about the drive-in experience. She reminded me how great of a time our kids had. First, we could bring the whole family to the drive-in. You can’t do that with an infant in the regular theater. The car makes for an instant sound proof chamber if the baby gets fussy, and they don’t have those. The big kiddo got to run around and play in the grass before the movie started. He shifted around during the movie from chair to blanket to chair again. You can’t move to the ground in a movie theater! You’ll be stuck for life through the dried up soda-glue that covers the floor! Then, after the movie, he ran off any excess popcorn energy literally by running full-speed around the car 9 times. I don’t know why. Kids are weird. He doesn’t have the opportunity to have those experiences in a crowded multiplex. So what if I missed a few small details? I’ll get ’em eventually. For tonight, I got to have a positive experience with my whole family thanks to the drive-in. Maybe that’s not so bad after all. It might not be the experience I’m always looking for, but on nights like tonight, crazy moon and all, it has its place. Live and let live, I guess, drive-in. Whereas the drive-in may not always be for me, right now it works really well for my whole family. I’m glad the drive-in’s still around so people like me can have positive experiences with their kiddos. Those smokers, on the other hand, can go to…ahh, I’ll stop it here for now. Have a nice day!
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Until next time, my friends,
My blogs will remain the ones that keep the Teen Titan songs running through your brain!