No marvel

Beast Boy, Robin and Cyborg never miss a chance to dance before destruction.

Beast Boy, Robin and Cyborg never miss a chance to dance before destruction.

Rated 3.0

There’s probably not much point in writing a review of Teen Titans Go! to the Movies; the audience it’s aimed at either hasn’t learned to read yet or doesn’t read movie reviews anyway. And the truth is, the movie isn’t terrible; it’s bright and shiny enough to keep toddlers from getting restless, and it has enough self-referential in-jokes to amuse their older siblings and parents.

For the record, the Teen Titans are a quintet of adolescents from the DC Comic Universe, a sort of Cub Scout version of the Justice League consisting of Robin the Boy Wonder (voiced by Scott Menville), apparently no longer needed by Batman (Jimmy Kimmel); Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), able to transform into any animal; Cyborg (Khary Payton), a half-human weapons arsenal; Raven (Tara Strong), who can open convenient portals in space and time; and Starfire (Hynden Walch), whose cutesy-princess persona masks an ability to shoot UV rays from her eyes and fly faster than the speed of light.

Despite their wide range of talents, the Titans can’t get respect. This is partly because they’re “only” teenage sidekicks, and partly because they haven’t done anything really heroic yet; for example, when they get sidetracked into a rap song while trying to fight a gigantic villain named Balloon Man (Greg Davies), the grown-up Justice League has to intervene. But mainly it’s because, as Superman reminds them (in the voice of Nicolas Cage, getting to play the role at last), they haven’t had their own movie. So Teen Titans Go! to the Movies becomes a movie about the Teen Titans trying to get a movie made about the Teen Titans.

For this they appeal to Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell), the filmmaking genius behind all the superhero movies. She tells them, essentially, to run along now; she only makes movies about “real” superheroes.

So the Titans decide that what they need is an arch-nemesis. Enter Slade (Will Arnett), who launches his campaign of arch-villainy while all the “real” superheroes are attending the premiere of the latest Batman movie. Only the Titans (who weren’t invited) are wise to him, so they’re galvanized into action.

That’s as far as I want to go into the story because the truth is—and I swallow deeply as I say it—there are actually some pretty clever twists and turns along the way in Michael Jelenic and Aaron Horvath’s script. (Horvath also directed, with Peter Rida Michail.) I couldn’t help noticing some suspicious similarities between the plot of this movie and Incredibles 2—which, given the difference in production time between the two, may not be a coincidence. But never mind; Teen Titans is the lesser movie and a relatively trivial time-killer, but it’s enjoyable enough.

Less amusing, perhaps, is that Mom and Dad just shelled out an average of eight bucks a head (not counting popcorn, candy and Cokes) to see a piece of animation that makes The Flintstones look like Fantasia. Which, before long, they could have seen on TV for free.