Have you ever made a bet? That intuition fueled guessing game that delivers the instant satisfaction of being right, or makes you fall flat on your face? I don’t make bets often; but when I do, they’re always with a purpose.
In this particular instance, I made a bet with fellow WOBAM contributor Isak Wolff: if Son Goku was announced for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, he had to review the John Goodman-starring Myst parody, PYST; if Son Goku wasn’t announced for Smash Bros., then I had to review Batman and Harley Quinn.
You can guess who lost that bet.
When WOBAM’s’s very own Paul Romano reviewed Batman and Harley Quinn, he gave it 1 1/2 out of 5 stars. I’d go a half-star lower. Batman & Harley Quinn offers nothing of value as a feature film. It reeks of poor writing and conception, poor jokes, and a poor understand of Batman character dynamics. Bruce Timm has been with this franchise for years. His pitch document for The Animated Series has captivated screenwriters for years. His body of work for DC proved to be a fan favorite for many years. For him to produce something this mediocre is appalling.
First, let’s talk about the one thing nobody can seem to get over in this film: Harley having sex with Nightwing. Here’s the first fact about that scene: I don’t think it was rape. Freako that it was, Nightwing got onboard with it, enjoyed it, and expressed zero regret after. You can’t call enjoyable, agreed to sex “rape.” THAT SAID (because I can already hear your gears turning), the entire scene is completely out of character. Harley Quinn is an abuse victim who’s hit on by piggish men all the time. She wouldn’t have pushed sex on ANYONE. EVER. It’s hyper unrealistic.
And therein lies the issue. Timm’s self-gratifying ship choices don’t work. Nightwing NEVER would have hooked up with Harley, no matter how steamy you frame the scene or try to make it seem. Harley never would have tied a man up to her bed as her prisoner, then pushed for sex. Again, it’s all super out of character stuff, and it’s wildly inappropriate material for a film set in the family-friendly TAS universe.
The tone of the movie also strikes me as off. It feels like a mashup of TAS, Batman ’66, and Batman Forever, except that none of those tones come into their own. I’ve been a big fan of the Adam West series for years; The Animated Series is great too. But you blend those styles together, and it blends like oil and water. Neither one tastes very good because they’re the watered down essence of a superior product.
In kind with the last point, the movie also suffers from poor jokes. The adult humor never lands with any success. The number of gay jokes the movie runs with is off the charts, and all them are of the punch-down variety. Batman always seems to do things out of character for the sake of a joke.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I haven’t even mentioned the sub-par annimation, the weak villain motivation, or the cop out ending. The whole of Batman and Harley Quinn beggs you to judge it. It’s a film interested only in the incoherent whims of a writer and creative team who are past their prime. Harsh words, I know. But it’s frustrating that a movie like this exists, that people will purchase it blindly, expecting a quality experience.
I leave you with this thought: the end credits are the best part of the movie. The “Dr. Quinn” TV show angle and subsequent obstacle course were the only parts of this that felt kin to The Animated Series, and it’s the only thing that keeps me from giving the film a half star rating. The scene is a weird way to end the film, no doubt, but it’s also the only moment in the film where Harley was fully in character. For that, it deserves some cred.
With that, dear reader, my debt has been paid. I’m free of this burden. Please hold me while I sob.
The moral of this story: don’t make bets! But also, don’t give Bruce Timm your money.
Seriously, puddin’, don’t do it. There’s better DC material out there.
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