One of this week’s two wide releases is the big-screen adaptation of the popular Cartoon Network series Teen Titans Go!, and it’s likely your kids are going to want to see it, particularly if they’re already fans of the show. As Christy explains in detail, the movie should be just fine for all but the youngest kids, and she offers three superhero-themed animated alternatives in case you can’t make it to the theater over the weekend.
Rating: PG, for action and rude humor.
The Teen Titans have leapt from the TV screen to the big screen in pursuit of their own superhero movie. The feature-film version of the popular Cartoon Network series features all those DC characters voiced by the actors who’ve played them – Robin (Scott Menville), Starfire (Hynden Walch), Cyborg (Khary Payton), Raven (Tara Strong) and Beast Boy (Greg Cipes) – plus plenty of other comic book heroes. Together, they must stop the maniacal villain Slade (voiced by Will Arnett) from taking over the world through his powers of mind manipulation. This is simultaneously a celebration of blockbuster thrills as well as a sharp satire of the oversaturation of them. Kids will love the colorful, high-energy adventures and the insanely catchy musical numbers; adults will laugh out loud at the clever details and inside jokes. There’s quite a bit of action here but it’s never scary and it usually ends in some sort of insane, silly way. There are fart and poop jokes, but they’re executed in surprisingly inspired fashion. This movie is a lot of fun for all ages.
If Teen Titans Go! To the Movies has your kids interested in other animated superhero fare – and they’ve already seen The Incredibles and Incredibles 2 (in theaters now), here are a few suggestions:
Rating: PG, for action and peril, some rude humor and thematic elements.
I also suggested this one several months back as an example of a great robot movie. But Big Hero 6 is an excellent choice for a multitude of occasions, with an exciting mix of adventure, laughs and heart, all blended together through gorgeous visuals. It deservedly won the Academy Award for best animated feature in 2015. Ryan Potter provides the voice of 13-year-old Hiro, a brilliant kid who’s obsessed with all things high-tech. But after a major explosion early in the film, Hiro finds he must take over the project his older brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henney), had been working on: a giant, inflatable robot named Baymax (Scott Adsit), who offers medical advice as well as warm hugs. The two form a strong friendship that’s joyful and heartwarming. But when a bad guy wants to steal Hiro’s latest invention, he and Baymax must form a team to stop him. Big Hero 6 features small, clever details as well as some big, heavy themes of life and death, betrayal and revenge. It’s high-energy and colorful but it also has some darker undertones that may be too much for very young kids to handle. And the villain is a menacing figure in a cloak and a frightening mask with infinite power at his fingertips. But I highly recommend this movie for viewers around 6 and older.
Rating: PG, for mild rude humor throughout.
Speaking of Academy Awards, the Captain Underpants movie should have been in the running this year for best animated feature. I’m serious. It’s brilliant. Like the Teen Titans Go! movie, it’s got plenty of potty humor. But the pacing is breathless, the characters are beautifully developed and the variety of animation on display is consistently clever. I’ve watched this movie with my 8-year-old son countless times, and I notice hilarious new details with each viewing. Director David Soren’s film is based on the wildly popular book series by Dav Pilkey. But whether or not you or your kids have read a single word of George and Harold’s adventures, you’ll have a complete blast here. Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch provide the voices of best friends who accidentally transform their mean elementary-school principal (Ed Helms) into the comic-book superhero of their dreams: The goofy, tighty-whitey wearing Captain Underpants. There’s quite a bit of gross-out humor here, but it’s amusingly self-aware. And there are valuable themes about being kind to people who are friendless or who’ve been bullied. A great choice for all ages.
Rating: PG, for rude humor and some action.
Before he played Slade in the Teen Titans Go! movie, Will Arnett lent his rich, gravelly voice to the character of Batman several times, most notably here in his own spin-off of 2014’s The LEGO Movie. You probably saw this comedy last year when it was a massive box-office hit, but the jokes are so rapid-fire, you may have missed several of them the first time around. Here, Batman struggles to remain relevant as Gotham’s hero. He’s also suffering an existential crisis with the arrival of his sidekick, Robin (Michael Cera), which forces him to acknowledge the possibility that he might actually need a family. The humor is zippy and self-referential but never mean, and while there’s violence and destruction throughout, it’s knowingly goofy. Also similar to the Teen Titans Go! movie, LEGO Batman features villains who show up from a variety of comic-book and pop-culture realms, but they’re all kind of adorable and certainly never scary. An awesome choice for all ages.