Live Action (Short Subject) Nominees

The LEGO Batman Movie

“You can’t be a hero if you only care about yourself.” – Gotham City Police Commissioner Barbara Gordon to the self-absorbed, caped-crusading loner, [LEGO] Batman.

That sentiment forms the foundation – the building bricks as it were– of the new LEGO Batman Movie, a spin-off of the 2014 animated gem in which Batman delivered some of the greatest zingers in toy superhero movie history. This time around, Batman aka Bruce Wayne is front and center, voiced once again by Will Arnett (Arrested Development) with a perfect blend of snark, self-awareness, and vulnerability. The LEGO Batman Movie doesn’t quite rise to the level of its predecessor, but it’s still pretty darn entertaining – especially for the grown-ups.

Here’s the gist: Batman’s nemesis The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) is wounded to the emotional core when Batman refuses to acknowledge the importance of their co-dependent hero-villain “relationship.” (Batman doesn’t do “-ships”). In retaliation, The Joker assembles a ragtag group of criminals and super-villains – everyone from Harley Quinn, Two-Face and Bane, to Voldemort, King Kong, and The Condiment King – to stage a hostile takeover of Gotham City.

Meanwhile, Gotham’s new Commish, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), isn’t one to just flash the Bat Signal and sit on the sidelines. She insists on working with Batman to preserve and protect her beloved city. But Batman balks. As far as he’s concerned, it’s bad enough when he has to make nice with the likes of Superman (Channing Tatum), Green Lantern (Jonah Hill), and the rest of the Justice Leaguers. He’d much rather battle the bad guys on his own, then isolate himself in the Bat Cave or the Wayne Manor theater room watching Jerry Maguire while chowing down on microwaved lobster thermidore. The only exception: his father figure/butler/gadget guru Alfred (Ralph Fiennes). Things start to change, however, when Bruce Wayne unwittingly adopts an orphan kid named Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) and becomes reluctant superhero dad to a pants-less sidekick who likes to call himself “Robin.”

The LEGO Batman Movie manages to preserve the basic history of the DC Comics icon, while comically mocking every iteration of the Caped Crusader through the years, from the corny 1960s Adam West version to the critical punching bag that was last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It’s not a flawless pursuit, but it’s hard not to smile throughout most of the movie. The action, witty dialogue and running gags – from the opening credits to the “obligatory pop song” at the end— make The LEGO Batman Movie a sweet, sarcastic, and welcome escape from our current, [fill in the blank] reality. KAPOW! BOOM! WHACK! Enjoy.

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