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the new trailer for 'the lego batman movie' starring will arnett and zach galifianakis. warner bros.

'the lego batman movie' is terrific fun, with will arnett voicing the caped crusader as an arrogant . it's a sequel that holds up in every way.

the lego batman movie

batman and members of the justice league are ready for action in "the lego batman movie."(p o: warner bros. entertainment inc. and ratpac-dune entertainment llc)

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  • critic's rating: 4 out of 5 stars

he’s selfish, self-centered, thin-skinned and short-tempered. he denies his shortcomings, blames others for his mistakes and takes credit where it’s not due.

the guy who fits that description: batman, at least as voiced by the brilliant will arnett in “the lego batman movie.” parents should volunteer to take their children to this one — you’re going to think it’s funnier than the kids do. there are references to just about all depictions of the caped crusader over the years, and references to the references, because if you can’t be knowing about your self-referential nods, what’s the point?

which is a reference-heavy way of saying the film, directed by chris mckay, is confident and smart. it knows what the audience wants before it even knows it wants it.

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which comes as a relief, frankly. this film is, of course, a sequel to “the lego movie,” which was itself a terrific surprise in 2014, not at all the feature-length advertisement for the toy blocks many feared it would be. instead it was a hilarious romp inside a world different from ours, but tethered to it in a way that turned out to be moving.

in "the lego batman movie," dick grayson is robin's

in "the lego batman movie," dick grayson is robin's alter ego.

 (p o: warner bros. entertainment inc. and ratpac-dune entertainment llc)

“the lego batman movie” isn’t quite up to that standard, but there’s no shame in that. you can only be original once, after all. but in terms of jokes per minute that land, it’s at least the equal of its predecessor.

batman is up to his usual tricks at the beginning of the film, thwarting another flawed scheme by the joker (zach galifianakis). that’s bad enough for the joker: batman, even in victory, refuses to acknowledge the joker as his worthiest adversary. in fact, batman claims, the joker means nothing to him at all.

meanwhile, commissioner gordon is retiring, and his daughter, barbara (rosario dawson), takes over. she pays batman a few backhanded compliments in a speech but stresses that it’s time to move on. after all, even though he repeatedly has saved the city, he’s never really captured any of the bad guys. and wouldn’t prevention and smart policing be a better crime deterrent than a mysterious vigilante?

or, as she puts it, “we don’t need an unsupervised man karate-chopping poor people in a halloween costume.”

in "the lego batman movie," barbara gordon says of

in "the lego batman movie," barbara gordon says of batman: “we don’t need an unsupervised man karate-chopping poor people in a halloween costume.”

 (p o: warner bros. entertainment inc. and ratpac-dune entertainment llc)

you can imagine the tempered, rational way batman takes this news. he’s already down, feeling alone, afraid to be part of any kind of family, as alfred the butler (ralph fiennes) points out. his accidental adoption of dick grayson (michael cera) doesn’t exactly change things.

and then the joker surrenders.

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he’s up to something, naturally, and batman is the only one smart enough to realize it (or, more likely, he hopes something’s up in order to remain relevant).

a showdown is brewing, as you would suspect, and the action sequences are nicely done. but the jokes, which come a mile a minute, are hilarious. look for digs at, among many others, “suicide squad,” marvel movies (listen for the p word to the batcave), other batman movies and, especially, the py 1960s television series starring adam west. some of the goofier villains from that version show up in small roles.

what a treat “the lego batman movie” is. as they say in the first film (except this time for real): everything is awesome.

reach goodykoontz at [email protected] facebook: facebook.com/goodyonfilm. twitter: @goodyk.

'the lego batman movie,' 4 stars

director: chris mckay.

cast: will arnett, rosario dawson, zach galifianakis.

rating: pg for rude humor and some action.

great ★★★★★ good ★★★★

fair ★★★ bad ★★ bomb ★

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