The LEGO Batman Movie, rated PG

Starring Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Zach Galifianakis, Ralph Fiennes, Channing Tatum

Austin Family Critical Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Austin Family Family-Friendly Rating: 4 1/2 of 5 stars

Chris McKay’s The LEGO Batman Movie is an irreverent, hilarious animated comedy that serves as a spin-off, of sorts, for the Lego Batman character first introduced in The Lego Movie (2014). This film goes all-in on Batman lore, with nearly every major villain making an appearance and constant references made to earlier live-action Batman films (as well as the animated and live-action television series).

Batman (Will Arnett) is the rock-star savior of Gotham City, but he leads a fairly lonely personal life. He insists on fighting crime by himself, and bristles when the new commissioner, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), implores Batman to work with the police. Whether Batman likes it or not, the two are forced to team up when the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) unleashes a swarm of super villains on Gotham (including King Kong, Voldemort and what appears to be the shark from Jaws).

Did I mention there’s a hilarious subplot involving Robin (Michael Cera)? Further complicating Batman’s dogged insistence on working alone is his accidental adoption of Dick Grayson, aka Robin, who he is then forced to take under his wing.

Arnett is the perfect voice actor for a comedic take on Batman, and his delivery is note-perfect throughout the film. This film has a stacked supporting voice cast, too, with special mention going to Conan O’Brien as The Riddler and Doug Benson as Bane.

Although there’s no question that Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy is the definitive modern take on Batman (I didn’t even bother seeing last year’s supposedly wretched Batman v. Superman), it’s nice to see a film adaptation of the iconic hero that’s truly for children. As with The Lego Movie, there are countless laughs for adults here, too. (I was cracking up even during the opening logos.) I’d recommend The LEGO Batman Movie for kids ages 5 and up.

Jack Kyser is a graduate of Austin High School and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

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