No need to wait, take a shot right now if you groaned at the title of this review. Yup, for my superhero selection this month, I chose the mother of them all: that one, the franchise killer, the Batman and Robin of sequels.
I am a self-admitted movie masochist with a high tolerance for pain so I felt it was my duty to take the whipping of this one for the good of humanity because, come on, how can we possibly have a website featuring movie drinking games without Joel Schumacher’s magnum opus? A steaming turd so magnificent in length and girth that it refuses to be flushed, folding in half against the circling water and clogging up the pipes so bad that no plumber could stop the overflowing. So powerful a stench, that the entire house is so horribly contaminated that it’s declared a bio-hazard, condemned, demolished, and not spoken of again, well at least for eight years when a new building developer comes to town , purchases the land, and rebuilds a new, better house and everyone forgets the shit-flood of that tragic day in 1997.
But we never really forgot, did we? We filed it in the bottom drawer of our minds marked “DO NOT OPEN EVER EVER AGAIN” but every now and then we are reminded of it, usually when discussing the biggest cinematic travesties of all time.
I remember seeing Batman and Robin once, all those years ago, but I didn’t retain much more than the nipple-adorned suits. In fact, that seems to be the one–err two, things most people remember about it. I couldn’t recall much else, which led me to wonder if we were all being unfair, our memories fuzzy due to time and Christopher Nolan’s masterful reworking of the franchise. Maybe it wasn’t that bad? Maybe it was just a harmless, intentionally campy ode to the 60’s television series (a debate that its five fans like to use in its defense). So, armed with an objective outlook, a six-pack, and my trusty gimp-suit (which looks suspiciously like a costume from this movie) I settled in to view Hollywood’s $125,000,000 attempt to make Alicia Silverstone an action star.
This is the part of the review where I am required to provide a brief plot-synopsis. I am going to try my best because this is one convoluted mess of a story.
So, there’s a new villain in town named Mr. Freeze (a pre-governor of Caleeforneyah Arnold Schwarzenegger, right around the time he knocked up his housekeeper). Mr. Freeze’s grand plan is to literally freeze over Gotham City and then the world to hold it ransom for BILLIONS of dollars to fund his research to cure his cryogenically frozen wife’s incurable disease called McGregor Syndrome.
McGregor Syndrome makes you spontaneously break out into song.
Despite his origin of being a renowned scientist, Mr. Freeze’s master plan has two major flaws: 1) If everyone is frozen solid, who will be left to give him all this money and help him carry out his research? and 2) Know what Mr. Freeze uses to fuel his freezing machines? Diamonds. Big, huge, expensive diamonds worth lots and lots of money.
Who wants to tell him?
Meanwhile, another scientist and plant-lover Dr. Pamela Isley (Uma Thurman) is turned into the venomous Poison Ivy. Shockingly, Poison Ivy also wants to take over the world to save all the plants and uses her magic love spell and deadly kiss to achieve it, one horny sucker at a time.
Freeze and Ivy team up (I know, I know, freezing everything would kill all the plants, just go with it) so Batman (George Clooney taking over the role from Val Kilmer who took over for Michael Keaton, aka The Best Batman ever) and Robin (Chris O’Donnell at his whiniest) are called away from their PR appearances (really) to save Gotham and the world from the (least ever) evil villains’ evil plan. Alfred (Michael Gough) is still around to butle and order pizza but he comes down with a nasty case of some incurable disease, I can’t remember the name, it’s like Ewan or something.
Because there weren’t enough characters, Alfred’s niece Barbara (post-Aerosmith video era Alicia Silverstone) shows up at the door one day on break from studying computers at the prestigious Oxbridge University.
Computer genius. As if!
Robin instantly has a crush on Barbara and they have some weird sort of incestuous flirtation (though nowhere near as much as Robin and Batman have) that’s alluded to every once in a while in the movie.
Barbara and Robin did end up together. And they had a half-bird baby.
Barbara’s true passion is racing motorcycles though. She also studied some martial arts at Oxbridge. If only she could use these skills someday. Like to fight a female villain so our male heroes won’t look like women beaters.
Will Batman and Robin be able to resist the chlorophyll pheromones of Poison Ivy ? Will Mr. Freeze succeed in freezing over the world after Nicole Kidman’s attempt failed in Batman Forever? Will everything be in neon?
There is one really good thing about Batman and Robin. It was so bad and such a critical and commercial failure that plans for future installments were called off soon after its release. Had it not been as mind-numbingly awful, there would have been more and who knows if Christopher Nolan’s reboot would have ever even happened. So we actually have Batman and Robin to thank for the Dark Knight trilogy.
I wasn’t planning to toast anything else about this movie, however, last night while stumbling around my On Demand free movies, I came across a little flick from 1969 called Hercules in New York starring someone named Arnold Strong. Turns out Arnold Strong was the stage name Arnold Schwarzenegger used to go by and Hercules was his film debut. Young Arnold’s English was so unintelligible that it had to be dubbed over by a different actor in the theatrical release. So here’s to you Arnold Schwarzenegger, for getting somewhat of a grip on the English language by Batman and Robin!
Seriously, check out this movie- the undubbed version- if you want to see something truly special.
Here is the opening suiting-up sequence of Batman and Robin, looped for your viewing pleasure:
This should pretty much tell you everything you need to know about this movie.
In his defense, Schumacher’s campy approach in the previous Batman Forever turned out to be successful so it makes sense in theory that turning it up to 11 in the follow-up would yield similar results.
The entire movie plays out like some kind of porn parody (and if you’re curious, yes, an actual porn parody does exist. I’ll leave that between you and Google). Besides all the gratuitous close-ups of asses, chests, and crotches, there are lines such as “My garden needs tending,” “Is your thumb the only part of you that’s green?” “Some lucky boy’s about to hit the honey pot.” Most of these gems are delivered by Uma Thurman, doing some weird kind of Mae West thing that’s completely over-the-top, but, hey, at least she’s having fun.
And the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race is…………
Let’s pop open another beer and continue discussing this wondrously terrible dialogue. Which leads me to Mr. Freeze and his ice puns. ALL OF THE PUNS. Sometimes they make sense: “Let’s kick some ICE!” “The Iceman cometh!” Tonight, hell freezes over!” Sometimes they don’t: “What killed the dinosaurs? The Ice Age!” “In this universe, there’s only one absolute… everything freezes!” Pretty much all of Arnold’s lines are like this and delivered in predictable MUHAHAAHA villain-voiced fashion. Somewhere around the twentieth one, I-screamed.
Get it? ICE CREAM!!
Have I mentioned yet that Poison Ivy has a helper? His name is Bane.
No, not that Bane…this one:
Yup, Bane, arguably Batman’s strongest and most intelligent rival is reduced to Poison Ivy’s dumb-as-rocks henchman created by being literally inflated like a balloon in some kind of WWE Build-a-Wrestler factory.
I don’t know which is more groan-worthy and/or comical. Barbara’s transformation into Batgirl via discovering the Batcave, “hacking” into the computer, and talking to a Max Headroom-esque Alfred who already has a batsuit waiting for her, OR, her big secret identity revel to Batman and Robin of “Bruce it’s me…Barbara! I found the Batcave!”
It’s a damn good thing Barbara didn’t wear glasses in non-superhero form because I don’t know if Batman and Robin would have ever recovered from the shock.
Again that was: “Bruce, it’s me… Barbara! I found the Batcave!”
It’s so hard to get to beer six in reviews such as this one because there is always so much more left to discuss. So I’m going to cheat a little and list everything else that I can think of off the top of my head: The opening line: “I want a car, chicks dig the car,” the mention of Superman (so where was he during all of this?), Batman and Robin’s inexplicably built-in ice skates, air-surfing complete with Robin unironically yelling “COWABUNGA!” The Mr. White Christmas sing-along, the Bat credit card, Poison Ivy’s furry pink gorilla disguise, COOLIO,
Turkish baths, the fight-scene sound effects that were just begging for “BAM!” and “POW!” graphics, did I already say the Bat credit card?, the whole satellite thing that made no sense, and EVERYTHING ELSE IN THIS MOVIE!
Batman and Robin is so far removed from Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman that it’s difficult to believe it is part of the same franchise. It is meant to be campy and corny but I’m pretty sure it was also meant to be funny; however, there are more groans than laughs here, and the laughs are unintentional. It says something that nearly everyone involved in the movie has issued apologies and in Clooney’s case, refunds. Still, it’s wonderful riffing material to enjoy with friends and booze.
Take a Drink: every time Robin whines about something.
Take a Drink: every time Mr. Freeze makes an ice/cold/freeze-related pun.
Take a Drink: at every butt close-up.
Take a Drink: every time a character changes into a different costume. (Collect all the action figures!)
Take a Drink: at every Poison Ivy sexual innuendo.
Take a Drink: every time a new vehicle or gadget is featured in the movie for no other reason than to sell the toy version.
Take a Drink: whenever Batman calls Robin, “Dick” in a way that suggests he’s actually calling him a dick, and not by his name which is also Dick.
Take a Drink: at every mention of “McGregor Syndrome.”
Take a Drink: Oh hai, Elle Macpherson! (Most of her scenes were cut out of the movie)
Take a Drink: at every cheesy sound effect.
Do a Shot: when Batman pulls out his Bat credit card.
Do Another Shot: Coolio!
Fun Challenge:George Clooney reportedly urinated in the Batsuit several times during filming due to the difficulty of removing it. Try to guess the scenes!
“Damn George, lay off the asparagus.”