Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans is a fast-paced and consistently funny love letter to the original Teen Titans animated series, the current comedy take on the team and the entire history of the franchise. But beyond that, it's also a surprisingly deep character study for the Teen Titans Go! incarnations of the characters that does well by the entire cast.
The plot of the film primarily centers around the Go version of Raven (Tara Strong). When the gem that helps her control her demonic side is damaged, her father, Trigon (Kevin Michael Richardson), tries to use the opportunity to restore another version of himself to life: namely, the Trigon who was defeated in the universe of the original Teen Titans animated series. To that end, the pair pit those two versions of the team against one another while they try to steal Raven's powers. Managing to capture both versions of Raven, the rest of the heroes are forced to work together to try and rescue their friends.
Much of the comedy of the film comes from juxtaposing the original animated version of the team with their more zany counterparts. Starfire (Hynden Walch) is able to quickly befriend her alternate universe self. Beast Boy (Greg Cipes) and Cyborg (Khary Payton) take longer to adjust but eventually find common ground. A major thread of the movie, however, explores how the Go version of Robin (Scott Menville) deals with another version of himself that's everything he ever wanted to be: confident, respected and skilled.
The cast is well-adept to jumping back into the older versions of the characters. Each performer is able to subtly add distinctions in their performances, helping make each character distinct in their own way. Tara Strong is the vocal highlight. This is to be expected, with Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans giving much of the emotional content to the interactions between the two Ravens. The movie explores the concept that the older Raven has finally come to peace with herself, and now has to help a younger version of herself reach that same point of self-acceptance. It's a surprisingly strong emotional beat for the classic Raven and the new incarnation of the team.
Directed by Teen Titans Go! veteran Jeff Mednikow, the movie is more indebted to the new series than the original. It's consistently silly, including multiple musical numbers and running gags. One song in the film is even in-universe, being used to pad the run time of the movie. The two teams have to unite to fight Santa Claus, a regular antagonist on Teen Titans Go! and indicative of the sense of humor Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans indulges in.
The script is well-constructed enough to never lose sight of the characters though, giving both teams the chance to learn from one another in a compelling way. The animation can feel slightly sloppy at times, especially in regards to the original team in static moments. But a lot of attention has gone into the production of the fight scenes and team-up moments. In particular, the initial fight between the two Teen Titans teams is consistently funny and surprising, featuring strong moments from both versions of the team.
The movie's third act goes full Spider-Verse, introducing an entire multiverse worth of Teen Titans teams. This includes a number of shout-outs to DC's past, Teen Titans Go! established continuity and some sheer random creativity on the filmmakers part. But even with countless versions of the team on screen all at once, the characters remain at the core of Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans. Raven's growth is an affecting storyline, and is more dramatically resonant than the rest of the bonkers film around it would suggest.
Teen Titans Go! vs Teen Titans isn't the most revolutionary film ever, nor does it reach the truly ambitious scale that last years Teen Titans Go! To The Movies or the thematically similar Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse managed to be. But as a love letter to the franchise that incorporates plenty of humor and heart, the new movie succeeds. The film proves that no matter what form they come in, the Teen Titans can have compelling and emotional stories, even amidst gags about superhumans fighting Santa's elves.
Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans stars Greg Cipes as Beast Boy, Scott Menville as Robin, Khary Payton as Cyborg, Tara Strong as Raven and Hynden Walch as Starfire, with Kevin Michael Richardson as Trigon/Hexagon, Robert Morse as Santa Claus, Grey Griffin as Mrs. Claus, Rhys Darby as Master of Games, Sean Maher as Nightwing and "Weird Al" Yankovic as Gentleman Ghost and Darkseid.