The film industry has spawned a variety of fantastic movies over the past century; films such as Titanic, Slumdog Millionaire and Avatar were not only hugely successful, but enormously acclaimed. Unfortunately, not every film can be a winner.
After the success of The Lego Movie in 2014, the creators sought to create another hit in the form of The Lego Batman Movie.
This film genuinely had its moments. It was entertaining, and the humor had a level of self-awareness, with the writers understanding the inherent stupidity of creating a film based on a toy based on another film, originally based on a comic. The writers tried to lean into the stupidity, and to some degree, they were successful in creating a funny movie.
However, the film failed in several ways to create a meaningful story.
For one, the self-aware humor only went so far. At many times, the humor was awkward and simplistic. The jokes were surface-level, and the writing lacked wit. Granted, dumb humor is a part of the experience of watching a Lego movie. But after fifteen minutes, the joke gets old, and the satire turns into just lazy writing.
The writers spread themselves too thin, trying to work with too many emotional conflicts. Was Batman in need of family? Was he trying to find purpose? Was he struggling with his moral compass? Instead of doing one plot line well, they tried to tackle three different emotional struggles and failed at all three. Instead of portraying character growth and teaching about how to find purpose in the world, the film got lost in its many different sub- plots and actually conveyed very little.
To make it even worse, when the movie got even close to having a nice moment, the writers ruined it by throwing in a cheap potty joke. Many similar films mastered a subtlety of potty humor mixed in with emotional depth. These films, like Shrek and The Emperor’s New Groove had an nice balance of comedy and emotion. The Lego Batman Movie, however, did not, and therefore felt extraordinarily two-dimensional.
That’s not to say that the movie was completely devoid of emotional meaning. There were some cute moments, though cheesy. But these moments were few and far between.
This is a children’s movie. It doesn’t necessarily need wit or emotional depth to entertain eight-year-olds.
However, what it does need is a clear, easy-to-follow plot. This movie did not have that.
Even as an adult, I found myself feeling like I missed something whenever anything happened. The plot line was choppy, and it required close attention in order to follow what was going on. The plot lacked coherence and flow, and many adults couldn’t understand what was happening, let alone an eight-year-old.
Sometimes, when a film lacks in emotion, humor and flow, it makes up for it with animation. But that was not the case here. There was no beauty to the animation. Much like the rest of the movie, it was overwhelmingly mediocre.
One of the movie’s few saving graces was the voice acting. The jokes may have been cheap and surface-level, but the delivery almost made up for it. Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes and Zach Galifianakis made some of the dumbest jokes somehow funny.
Ultimately, however, the film failed to make a significant impression.
I still don’t see the point of creating a Lego movie, so maybe there’s some joke that’s flying right over my head. But even if it’s supposed to be some kind of a satire, making fun of itself and spoofing the original Batman films, that joke alone can’t sustain an entire full-length film.
The Lego Batman Movie required significantly more substance, and it could have been much more clever and meaningful than it was, given its budget, publicity and cast.
In the end, the movie was okay for what it was—an intentionally dumb and shallow film. The writers sought to create more out of it, but ultimately failed to exceed expectations, and in many respects, failed to meet them to begin with.
Josh may be reached at