“The LEGO Batman Movie” is this year’s only worthwhile story about a manic, self-obsessed, profoundly unloved cartoon billionaire who lives in an isolated fortress of his own design, resents the people that he’s entrusted to protect, and receives money from Steve Mnuchin.
Once the story begins in earnest, McKay sets the tone with a hyper-active orgy of crazed action and silly jokes, “LEGO Batman” quickly becoming so frantic that it makes “The LEGO Movie” feel like a Béla Tarr film by comparison.
Much like the movie that spawned it, uses its amphetamine-addled approach as a means to an end.
More photo-real than its predecessor – and more amusing for that, given that the LEGO characters are still limited to their jerky sudden movements – it revolves around a Bruce Wayne who fights crime as an excuse to get out of Xanadu for a few hours every night so he can stop staring at the photo of his parents that was taken just seconds before they were murdered while walking down Crime Alley.
Severed from the rest of the world, “The greatest orphan of all time” spends his days microwaving whole lobsters, ignoring his butler/surrogate father, and cackling at the end of “Jerry Maguire” by himself in the Wayne Manor movie theater.
The whole movie gently skewers the self-seriousness that has always characterized its title character, but that doesn’t stop it from laughing at very specific moments from Batman’s big screen history; it feels like “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” bears the most biting of these jokes, but perhaps that’s only because any mention of that disaster feels like a sick burn.
More fun than funny, more clever than smart, “LEGO Batman” moves too fast to acclimate audiences to the world it so eagerly dismantles and rebuilds, but it serves as a frenzied reminder that laughing at the things we love is sometimes the best way to remember why we love them.