The Lego Batman Movie ****
Directed by Chris McKay; screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith
With the voices of Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes and Zach Galifianakis; 104’; USA 2017.
When Gotham City is in danger and the police don’t know what to do, there is only one person to call: Batman. He’s the city’s superhero, loved by the citizens and feared by the criminals. But when he goes back to his enormous mansion, Batman (Bruce Wayne) is alone. Used to hiding his real identity, he lives as a secretive billionaire with his butler Alfred.
But his routine is stopped one night during a gala in which he not only adopts, by mistake, a young orphan named Dick, but even finds out that commissioner Gordon, who has reached the age of retirement, is going to be replaced as chief of police by his daughter, the charming Barbara Gordon. When the Joker comes back to attack the city with a plan to permanently subjugate it to the villains, Batman will have to fight once again to defend it. But this time, he’ll have something to lose…
After the success of The Lego Movie, the world’s most popular toy bricks return to the theatres with their characters. This time, there is no protagonist but Batman himself.
For once, we have an animated movie that doesn’t just stick to putting together a series of more-or-less hilarious gags with a few action scenes. There is a story, a protagonist going through a journey of change, maybe not particularly original, but effective nonetheless. The authors manage to tackle the theme of abandonment trauma and its overcoming without ever weighing the story down too much.
Through the encounter with Barbara Gordon and the involuntary adoption of Dick, Batman goes from an egocentric universe (in the literal sense of the word: a daily life that has the ego of the hero as its only gravitational center) to seeing the world from a family perspective. Little by little, the protagonist conquers his fears and learns to trust those who care about him.
One of the best aspects of the movie is its unrelenting self-irony. The Lego Batman lovingly teases his flesh-and-bone alter ego, ridiculing his perfect and fit body and the pretentiousness of a billionaire who can afford everything he desires. Younger audiences will hardly get the references, even when very blatant (for example, the intelligent use of very short frames from the old movies dedicated to the superhero), to the decades-long cinematic history of the Batman character, but they will get plenty of laughs from the jokes the film is full of.
Even the action sequences are really impressive and emphasize the ductility of the bricks, which through thousands of different combinations can create anything in the hands of the protagonists.
In the end, The Lego Batman Movie is an excellent compromise for an audience of both adults and children.
Problematic elements: A couple of lines about LGBT parenthood.