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Awfully Good: Batman Forever + Superman III (video)

Batman and Superman have a long history with Awfully Good. We've tackled SUPERMAN III and SUPERMAN IV for the Man of Steel, and BATMAN: THE MOVIE, BATMAN AND ROBIN, CATWOMAN, and even the porno BATBABE: THE DARK NIGHTIE for the Caped Crusader. Only one movie is missing…

 

Batman Forever (1995)

 

Director: Joel Schumacher
Stars: Val Kilmer, Jim Carrey, Tommy Lee Jones, Nicole Kidman, Jerry O'Connell

 

Batman must stop the Riddler and Two Face from turning the people of Gotham in to brainless TV addicts.

It's easy to overlook BATMAN FOREVER when you compare it to the movie that came after. Even a slightly irritable bowel movement doesn't seem so bad after you've had explosive diarrhea. 


Before he worked for Tony Stark, Happy Hogan got his start as a bodyguard for another billionaire superhero. (Yes, that is Jon Favreau.)

Though nowhere near as big a disaster as BATMAN AND ROBIN, FOREVER is still a strange animal, something that walks the line between Tim Burton's dark and gloomy take and Adam West's campy TV show. Joel Schumacher clearly can't get past the idea that a man would willingly dress like a bat to fight crime, and he builds an entire universe of silliness around it. Whether it’s a Gotham comprised solely of bright neon and giant statues (SO MANY STATUES) or superhero suits with built-in room for Batman's apparently large nipples, the director makes sure that everything is as flamboyant and in-your-face as possible. Even the eye-rolling first line of the movie ("I'll get drive-thru."), said as the Dark Knight gets in to the Batmobile, is a good indicator of exactly how many f*cks will be given throughout this film. 


There's a lot of conflict in this world, but can we all agree that the person who came up with the "Holy rusted metal, Batman!" line deserves to be shot?

In addition to an outrageous aesthetic, Schumacher also brought on board Akiva Goldsman, a terrible Hollywood screenwriter who someday fail upward in to winning an Oscar and directing Awfully Good classic WINTER'S TALE. The script here is a mess. Even if all the goofiness and campiness was intentional from Schumacher, clearly little to no effort was made to do it right. The tone changes character to character, there aren't any memorable action set pieces (save for the time the Batmobile is able to drive up a wall), and nothing makes sense when you think about it. For example, when we first meet Two Face, he lures Batman in to a bank, traps him in the safe with a bumbling security guard (truly one of the worst supporting actors of all time), uses a wrecking ball to knock down the wall, uses a helicopter to pull the safe up in to the sky, then begins to fill the safe with acid before Batman is able to escape. This was the best evil scheme the writers could come up with? Then again maybe I shouldn't be trying to make sense out of a movie where the villains somehow play a live-action, life-size version of Battleship with the Batboat.


BATDERP. 

People give George Clooney flack for BATMAN AND ROBIN, but Val Kilmer might be the most boring cinematic Dark Knight. He's a complete non-entity as both Bruce Wayne and Batman, weighed down by the script's desire to explore the character's scarred psychology for the third film in a role. Kilmer looks like he's ready to fall asleep at any moment, and given what he has to work with, who could blame him. Plus, for whatever reason the suit is just not flattering on him. (I could've done all screenshots of Kilmer looking goofy wearing the cowl.) And can I bring up the irony of Bruce Wayne deciding to give up being Batman as soon as he falls in love in a movie titled BATMAN FOREVER


Riddle me this… WHY DOES THIS MOVIE HAVE SO MANY STATUES IN IT?

The real star of the movie, whether intentional or not, is Jim Carrey. His Riddler is essentially just the Joker if he occasionally asked questions in rhyme. His dastardly plan, to use 3D TVs to read people's minds, is a ridiculous idea that better belongs in the 60s TV show, but Carrey sells it so well as Edward Nygma. The role gives the actor plenty of free reign to play his typical wacky persona (this was back in the day of ACE VENTURA and THE MASK after all) and his over-the-top performance is by default the most entertaining part of the movie. 


This is the face of a man who only signed on to this movie because his son asked him to. 

On the other hand is Tommy Lee Jones, who is embarrassingly bad as Two Face. Like Carrey, Jones seems to have his villain confused with the Joker, constantly cackling maniacally and ranting about chaos and disorder, albeit with less success. This version of Harvey Dent always has some nonsensical scheme to try and get back at Batman, whether it's the aforementioned bank vault-acid-helicopter scene, hijacking a circus in the hopes that Batman is there, or dressing up like a random homeless mother in the street on the off chance the Batmobile drives by. He also has two mistresses, the angelic Drew Barrymore and the sleazy Debi Mazar, who are there for eye candy and to serve him "charred boar and raw donkey meat." I put that in quotes because that is what Harvey Dent really eats in this movie. 

Jones' portrayal of Two Face isn't helped by the character's design, which turns half of him in to a hot pink monster straight out of a Freddy Kreuger Broadway musical. Flashback news footage shows that it was a small vial of acid that somehow did all this, but the best part is the footage also shows Batman in full costume sitting in the audience of the court room. That makes me happy.


Foreplay is important, even for masked vigilantes.

Nicole Kidman plays the impeccably named Chase Meridian, a clinical psychiatrist who specializes in abnormal personalities. She may be a well-regarded doctor, but in BATMAN FOREVER Chase is just a sex kitten for Batman. She literally turns on the bat signal, puts on lingerie and starts groping Batman's bat nipples as soon as he shows up. Later, when Batman creepily appears on her balcony at midnight, she's immediately there wearing nothing but a sheet to make out with him. This is the entire extent of her role in this movie, save for being kidnapped as the damsel in distress at the end. 


"Hi, career. It's Chris O'Donnell. Remember me?"

The most notable addition in this film, however, is Robin, played by Chris O'Donnell. (Remember when Chris O'Donnell was a thing?) Schumacher does all he can to make Dick Grayson "hip" in this version, whether that means giving him a poorly thought out earring, making him demonstrate his skills by doing kung fu laundry, or by just generally turning him in to a bad-boy punk. When Grayson discovers the Batcave and Bruce Wayne's secret, he immediately steals the Batmobile and drives it to show some prostitutes, even doing a fairly racist accent to try and pick them up. ("Joo want to take a ride in my love machine, bay-bay?") Like a sidekick rapist, Grayson just sort of forces himself on Batman until he finally relents and lets him insert himself in to their rubber-clad team. Even though Bruce knows nothing about him or his training and only saw his fighting skills for a few seconds. Also, Grayson tells a story about how he got the nickname Robin from his father, because he was always "flying in to save the day." That lame backstory alone should disqualify him from being a superhero.

Schumacher does keep Robin's origin mostly intact, as an orphan out for revenge against Two Face, who killed his trapeze artist parents. (Although does this Dick Grayson really need to be adopted by Bruce Wayne, since he's clearly already in his 20s?) The best part of this sublpot is that Batman spends the entire movie lecturing Robin on how he shouldn't give in to his vengeance and kill Two Face because killing is wrong. Then in the end, Batman blatantly kills Two Face in front of Robin. Even better, he does this by tossing a bunch of quarters at him so he falls off a ledge to his doom, which means that Batman had been carrying around $20 worth of change in his belt for the entire final fight. 


When the Green Lantern flashes you, it's impossible not to look away.

No matter how bad or goofy or cheesy BATMAN FOREVER may be 20 years later, at least it gave us a soundtrack featuring U2, Massive Attack, The Flaming Lips, Nick Cave, and of course Seal's "Kiss from a Rose." I signed up for a Columbia House subscription behind my parents' back so I could have this CD and I regret nothing. NO REGRETS.

Bad lines from just about everyone, even the glorified extras.

Robin's laundry fu, Batman's "greatest" action moments, Jim Carrey being Jim Carrey, and the worst case of logical deduction ever.

Nope, just your standard, run-of-the-mill rubber nipples.


Have you been kissed from a rose? Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • There's a statue on screen
  • Batman/Bruce Wayne receives a riddle
  • There's a cartoon sound effect
  • Robin calls Alfred "Al"
  • There's a gratuitous shot of Bat nipples, Bat butt or Bat crotch
  • The Riddler has a costume change
  • An extra or supporting actor gives a terrible line reading

Double shot if:

  • Batman has an Indiana Jones moment

Now it's Superman's turn! What do you get when you mix The Man of Steel with the Jo Jo Dancer? You get SUPERMAN III, of course! Christopher Reeve is joined by comedian Richard Pryor in one of the strangest, goofiest, and sometimes frightening Superman films ever made. Join host Jesse Shade as he revisits this best-forgotten cheesefest from the vault...

Thanks to Carter and Kent for suggesting this week's movie!

 

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

Extra Tidbit: The gang leader Chris O'Donnell fights after stealing the Batmobile is played by kickboxing action star Don 'The Dragon' Wilson.
Source: JoBlo.com

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