“Lego Batman” a funny, clever send-up of DC comics
Like the first “Lego Movie’, “Lego Batman” is funnier and better than it has any right to be. Both films are meta, manic and over-the-top, yet in a way that works for them instead of against them. Both films have a crazy, loopy energy, that works in the service of their observational wit and charm. Lego Batman was one of the minor, yet funniest characters in the first “Lego Movie”, and here he is used brilliantly, and the film had me smiling or laughing the whole time.
The voice work is phenomenal. Will Arnett, who did the voice of Lego Batman in the first Lego Movie, is hilarious here, channeling Christian Bale’s Batman. Ralph Fiennes plays Batman’s (or Bruce Wayne’s) butler, Alfred. The plotting is pretty much all over the place, and goes in all sorts of crazy directions, which is part of why it is such crazy fun. The film has about 3 different subplots.
To begin with, Batman goes to Gotham’s winter gala as Bruce Wayne, and when he is there, Police Commissioner Barbara Gordon announces her plans to eliminate Batman from the Gotham police department, because he has not successfully caught any bad guys. Bruce Wayne is offended by this change, and he defensively argues against this, making it clear that he is Batman, without actually saying it. The Joker, though, abruptly takes over the gala and Batman feels like he really cannot save Gotham. One of the funniest parts of the film is the Joker telling Batman that he hates him, and desperately wanting him to reciprocate, and say “I hate you too”. Batman, though, has so much trouble with relationships that he cannot even come up with this simple response.
Batman also visits the local Gotham orphanage regularly, and he accidentally agrees to adopt an orphan named Dick Grayson, voiced with great comic energy by Michael Cera, later renaming himself Robin, and becoming his adoptive father’s sidekick. Eventually, even non-comic book villains, like Lord Voldemort, the Wicked Witch of the West, and the Lord of the Rings are out to attack Gotham. The eventual climax is logical and even kind of brilliant.
So many of the pop-culture references and jokes made me laugh so hard that I could easily forgive the jokes that were not as funny. Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” was used so cleverly throughout the film, that I will never think of the song the same way again. The same goes for “Jerry Maguire”, which Batman liked to watch in his house by himself, and laugh at lines like “You had me at hello”, while eating popcorn. For how profoundly silly the whole film is, its attention to detail, and highly imaginative, fully realized world, is remarkable.