“Batman & Robin,” or as Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy so eloquently puts it, “Batface and Birdbrain,” is one of the greatest films of all time. That’s right, I said it.
In anticipation of the newest Batman-related film, “Joker,” coming out Oct. 4, I recently sat down to watch the “funniest” installment in Gotham City’s history.
Leading man George Clooney has apologized numerous times for the film’s existence. This is unfair, though. He was a part of one of the greatest comedies of the 20th century. Clooney was not the only one to apologize, either.
Director Joel Schumacher is still asking for forgiveness over 20 years later. Let me remind you that Schumacher is not a bad director. He’s made classics in three decades including “The Lost Boys” (1987), “Falling Down” (1993), and “Phone Booth” (2002). Yet, for some reason, he miraculously managed to make the worst decisions possible at every turn with “Batman & Robin.”
Let me be clear, as an action and superhero movie, it is abysmal. It was nominated for 11 Golden Raspberry Awards (Razzies for short) — one of the most nominated movies of all time. In case you were wondering, Razzies are not something to be proud of. They are given to the year’s most underwhelming films. It’s the only award worse than a participation trophy.
Alicia Silverstone won Worst Supporting Actress for her role as Batgirl, though I believe she gave the least laughable performance in the “film.” Other nominations included Worst Screen Couple, Worst Director, and — I kid you not — Worst Reckless Disregard for Human Life and Public Property.
If that’s not enough to get you to watch the movie, let me tell you why it’s worth it.
Within the first 90 seconds of the film, we are given close ups of Batman and Robin’s buttocks. Wow. Take that, “Dark Knight.” Want to know what else Batman and Robin have that the Dark Knight doesn’t? Bat nips. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea for the suit to be that detailed, but damn, I’m sure glad they were included.
There is something precious to all Batman movies: the first time Batman introduces himself. From Michael Keaton to Christian Bale, they all have uttered the words, “I’m Batman.” It is supposed to instill fear in the enemy and bring joy to the audience. But Clooney introduced himself as though he were giving his icebreaker on the first day of class. Really, it’s just atrocious, and from that point on, it’s clear that Clooney will be playing Clooney, not Bruce Wayne or Batman.
Next, we are introduced to Mr. Freeze, played by the Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. What a fantastic choice for the ice man. He really grasps the essence of the character and makes it his own.
Schwarzenegger is able to deliver pun after pun with such grace. He introduces himself with this pure poetry.
“Allow me to break the ice: My name is Freeze. Learn it well, for it’s the chilling sound of your doom!”
If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, don’t worry, because every line out of his mouth is more cringeworthy than the last. I’m serious. I urge you to find a scene where he speaks without using a pun. You won’t.
I will give Mr. Freeze credit, however, for bringing winter to Gotham — something that the White Walkers failed to do for nine years.
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Thought one comical villain was enough? Too bad, because there are two more I haven’t mentioned. Over-the-top is an understatement with Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy. We are introduced to her as Pamela Isley, a jittery, disheveled scientist who is reborn from the soil as Poison Ivy after being thrown into a table with beakers labelled “Poison” by Doctor Woodrue.
She proclaims, “They replaced my blood with aloe, my skin with chlorophyll, and filled my lips … with venom,” as she fatally kisses Dr. Woodrue.
Everything about her is absurd, from her wardrobe to her caricature-like Katharine Hepburn impression. Nothing is better, however, than her hilariously awkward attempts at seducing Batman and Robin during the auction scene. She tells the pair that she has “wild oats to sow” and that her “garden needs tending,” whatever that means…
Batman then whips out his Batman-approved Visa card to buy Poison Ivy at the auction for $7 million. Just let that sink in.
On a serious note, this movie is bad. Joel Schumacher admitted its purpose was to sell toys. They weren’t too subtle about hiding this either.
While Bane is choking Batman, Poison Ivy says, “I’m a lover not a fighter, that’s why every Poison Ivy action figure comes with [Bane].”
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It’s disappointing that just about everyone involved treated this as an advertisement rather than a movie with a story and compelling characters. This isn’t just a “Batman & Robin” problem either. Just look at Michael Bay’s “Transformer” movies.
Unlike “Transformers,” which is flat out bad, “Batman & Robin” is so bad that you must watch it. Get together with some friends, grab some popcorn, prepare to laugh, and chill out. See what I did there?