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Movie review: PG-rated 'Teen Titans Go! To the Movies' pokes superhero culture in the eye
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Left to right are Green Lantern, voiced by Lil Yachty, Wonder Woman as Halsey, Superman, voiced by Nicolas Cage, Batman, voiced by Jimmy Kimmel and Flash, voiced by Wil Wheaton, in Warner Bros. Animation's Animated Adventure "Teen Titans Go! To The Movies," a Warner Bros. Picture release. - photo by Josh Terry
TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES 3 stars Voices of Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell, Stan Lee, Will Arnett, Patton Oswalt; PG (action and rude humor); in general release

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is the latest film to poke fun at our superhero-obsessed popular culture. Like other comedy driven superhero features like the Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool films, Teen Titans Go! feels designed for the seasoned fan. At the same time, its spot-on humor may leave you feeling burned out on the whole genre.

Based on the cartoon series of the same name, Aaron Horvath and Peter Rida Michails animated Teen Titans Go! tells the story of a group of also-ran heroes in the DC Comics universe. While icons like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman get the prestige, this little motley crew is a comparative joke.

The five-hero squad is led by Robin (voiced by Scott Menville), Batmans erstwhile underappreciated sidekick. The team also features a young version of Cyborg (Khary Payton), a portal-opening sorceress named Raven (Tara Strong), Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), who has the ability to morph into different animal forms, and an alien named Starfire (Hynden Walch).

We meet the team as they do battle with a suitably oddball villain named Balloon Man (Greg Davies), who stands about two-dozen stories tall and is especially susceptible to fart jokes. In the aftermath of the battle, the Teen Titans get wind of a movie premiere (for the fictional Batman Again) but also discover that of all the DC heroes, they alone stand uninvited.

Feeling slighted and frustrated, the Teen Titans decide that the only way people will take them seriously will be if they get attached to an appropriate supervillain like Lex Luthor or the Joker. Then, and only then, will a big-time director like Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell) make a movie about them.

Clearly Balloon Man is not up to snuff, but opportunity arrives in the form of the sword-wielding Slade (Will Arnett), a master of mind manipulation. Robin especially is wrestling with feelings of inferiority, and as Teen Titans Go! take on Slade, we watch the Boy Wonder struggle to reconcile his place in the superhero universe.

The loose plot is a framework for 93 minutes of in-jokes and pop culture references, designed to poke fun at both the DC universe and our greater culture. Some of these jokes are especially obscure, like the choice to have Nicholas Cage once connected to a Tim Burton Superman film voice the animated Man of Steel.

But fortunately for audiences unfamiliar with the source material, Teen Titans Go! takes great pains (via rapping musical numbers) to lay out its concept, characters and relationship to the DC universe, so anyone with a basic familiarity of the marquee heroes will feel right at home. (Unfortunately, without being too familiar with the source material, its hard to say whether longtime fans of the series will be similarly satisfied.)

All the wink-wink humor and in-jokes should keep the adults invested along with the films younger audience (though the former may actually be the primary target here), and the viewing experience feels similar to the irreverent tone of 2014s The Lego Movie, another production from Warner Brothers Animation. Though it shares in the spirit of that kind of movie, it isnt quite as sharp or effective, but if you go in with modest expectations, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies should make for a pleasant surprise.

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is rated PG, and generally appropriate for kids, featuring scenes of comic violence and some sporadic potty humor (such as the aforementioned flatulence jokes).

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is rated PG for action and rude humor; running time: 84 minutes.