After the shock of just how great The Lego Movie was, the idea of another focusing solely on Batman looked like cashing in on a success for the sake of it. He may be the best iteration of Batman in quite some time, but The Lego Movie’s ensemble approach brought out the best in everyone without overexposing any character and their personality. Everyone in the audience was accounted for, with vibrant visual gags for kids and meta humour for the adults.
Somehow, The Lego Batman Movie pulls it off again. An unashamed advert for Lego, this time around the anti-capitalist theme is replaced by one of love and acceptance. Batman is forced to approach his fear of familial intimacy as his butler Alfred encourages him to find people to welcome into Wayne Manor. Meanwhile, The Joker schemes to enlist more powerful villain allies after his repeated attempts to rule over Gotham fail. There is some overt and meta commentary on the relationship Batman has with his villains, which has been explored before in the name of realism, but is explained here in a way that acknowledges just how pretentious it all is.
The jokes come quick and fast and literally never stop. By the halfway point I was feeling a little exhausted from laughing so much. No comedy has made me laugh so consistently in such a long while, and it made me consider how often I should be laughing – before the start of the third act I began to resent how I had barely been given a breather. I began to want to not find it funny anymore out of sheer annoyance at how much I had laughed up until that point. That quickly passed and everything was awesome again, but it did present an unfamiliar feeling of something being too funny, something I had only ever experienced once before with the TV show A Touch of Cloth. When a gag rate is this fast, there is an irritating lack of downtime.
Like its predecessor, it is a rewarding watch for those who know their stuff about the Batman universe, the wider DC universe, and pop culture in general. The antagonists are for the most part unguessable, its references to other films are a constant delight, and the devotion to Batman’s ridiculous ego is hilarious. The Joker is a great villain, helping to erase any bad tastes in the mouth left over from Suicide Squad. Harley Quinn is back to her iconic red and black outfit. The sense of fun that is missing from everything DC attempt to do is here by the bucket load, easily making this the best Batman film since The Dark Knight, and one of the most consistently entertaining films since the last Lego Movie.
It is lower in narrative scope than before, although no one expected the original Lego Movie to aim so high. Its main plot may be the most obviously kid-friendly part about it, seeking to affirm the importance of bonding with others. Even still, the dark Batman of the 2000s and 2010s we have become accustomed to could do with this himself, and for anyone who likes their superheroes colourful and expressive, this is a welcome change of pace.
It is relentlessly vibrant, high-octane, and funny. From slapstick violence, ridiculous bravado, knowing winks, cultural references, and meta humour, the jokes simply do not stop. There are so many surprises along the way with cameos and surprising appearances that it is best to remain spoiler free if possible. It deserves to be seen on the big screen as it is visually astounding and a delight to behold. If it feels a little narratively hollow, it is maybe expecting too much from a film that is simply a pleasure to experience, guaranteed to put a smile on anyone’s face. What remains afterwards, more so than the plot or any one part in particular, is just how much it aims to make you have fun, and it does so with enviable ease.