January 9, 2010 – Revisitation
We wish to express our gratitude to the enemies of crime and crusaders against crime throughout the world for their inspirational example.
To them, and to lovers of adventure, lovers of escapism, lovers of unadulterated entertinment, lovers of the ridiculous and the bizarre -
To funlovers everywhere – this picture is respectfully dedicated.
A spotlight catches two lovers in a dark doorway making out
If we have overlooked any sizable groups of lovers, we apologize.
And with this acknowledgement begins the awesome credits to Batman: The Movie. A film written and produced so succinctly as a spin-off to the famous camp television series on ABC that it contains some of the most ridiculous lines and events ever caught on film.
Batman: The Movie in which Batman punches a shark in the face… repeatedly and in which the dynamic duo answer the following riddle:
What has a yellow skin and always writes?
Hit the jump for the answer and the rest of my discussion…
A ball-point banana.
If that didn’t make sense to you, it doesn’t matter. Nor will the other 1001+ idiosyncratic lines and happenings strewn about the film. Directed by Leslie Martinson and written by Lorenzo Semple Jr., Batman: The Movie is an overblown version of the television series. Tons of Bat-Toys appear (The Batmobile, The Bat-Boat, The Bat-Copter, The Bat Cycle) as Batman and Robin try to save the world from domination by an ensemble of the four most notorious rogues in the Batman gallery: The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin, and Catwoman.
To describe the plot is useless. All you need to know is that the movie has some of the best lines, actions, sequences, and music that have ever appeared in a super hero movie. Ever.
Batman’s struggle with a shark is the highlight of the movie, the sequence where he runs around on a pier trying to unload a bomb in the water without it going off close to any innocent bystanders is classic, and seeing Robin’s mini cab dislodge itself from The Bat-Cycle for absolutely no apparent reason as they pull up to The Bat-Copter is a mind blowing riddle all on its own.
What makes this movie, and its sister television series work so well is the cast and creator’s commitment to creating a farcical version of Batman, so campy and unique, that it takes the audience instantaneously from “God, this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen”, to “Holy freaking hilarious, Batman, this is great” in no time flat.
Adam West is Batman. Albeit a Batman without ears, but he’s the Batman I grew up with. At the time of my childhood in the 80′s, the show was well into syndication and it wasn’t until the very end of the 1989 that I was introduced to Michael Keeton. West’s ability to brand himself as Batman, even today helps this movie and the television series immeasurably. The fact that he talks about the show and his portrayal as Batman the same way the actual character would, his appearance on The SImpsons as a T-list actor holding on to his role and acting out the Bat-Shuffle, and his most recent recurring role as the Mayor of Quahog on Family Guy solidifies himself as the be all and end all of ham actors. The only other person I can think of that would give him a run for his money is William Shatner. The difference being that Shatner will sell himself to anything and act a fool for any paycheck. Shatner acts up the ‘sell-out’ role whereas West has carefully groomed himself as the campy character actor.
Getting back to the film’s opening credits: Embedded below is the delicious sequence in its entirety. Everything about the sequence is awesome foremost of all Nelson Riddle‘s score and the ludicrous idea that Batman, Robin, Catwoman, Joker, Riddler, or The Penguin could be snuck up upon so easily by a searchlight….
Before I end this quick write-up, I did want to mention one thing that irked me about the movie: The Joker. I have no beef at all with Cesar Romero‘s portrayal of the rogue, in fact it was enlightening to see how much of his characterization of the villain was used as a base for Jack Nicholson’s take in Batman. What bothers me is how Martinson and Semple choose to use the villain. Since all four of the major bad guys are featured in the film, the story gives each of them their moment to shine in the role of Batman saboteur…all of them except The Joker. He’s written in as kind of a sub-tiered villain. Almost a lacky with no major chunk of a role. This is asinine since everyone in the entire world knows that The Joker is Batman’s most popular and well known nemesis. As I write this, I begin to wonder, was this always the case? Perhaps The Joker didn’t always enjoy the notoriety that the character does today…? Either way, the fact that Cesar Romero refused to shave his mustache for the role and that it is clearly visible beneath his makeup is awesome.
The Bottom Line: 5/5. No matter how you look at it, Batman: The Movie is grossly entertaining. Whereas sarcasm, overacting, physical, crude etc… comedy can be loved and hated by the genre lovers my experience with YouTube dictates that acts of absurdity seem to be one of the true unifiers in comedy. With this said, I highly recommend and truly believe that anyone can like and laugh at West and his adventures as Batman.
Let me know what you thought of Batman: The Movie. How great is its absurdity?
Does anybody know where I could find the televised series on DVD? Has The Joker always been Batman’s most notorious nemesis or is this only a more contemporary take on the villain?
Leave your comments below!
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