This is an installment for a series on this blog where Joe Brown, Regional Editor for RiverTown Multimedia, and I have a back-and-forth review of a movie. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, I picked “Batman Forever.”
The Movie: “Batman Forever”
Starring: Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey
Director: Joel Schumacher
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) Batman must battle former district attorney Harvey Dent, who is now Two-Face and Edward Nygma, The Riddler with help from an amorous psychologist and a young circus acrobat who becomes his sidekick, Robin.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 39 percent
Froemming: Last week we saw Christian Bale drop down to a shockingly skinny weight. And it reminded me that after he did “The Machinist,” he immediately bulked up for “Batman Begins.” So I had Batman on my mind, and wanted to revisit the Dark Knight once again for The JOE-DOWN.
Did I pick one from the brilliant Christopher Nolan trilogy?
The past few years has seen Warner Bros. meddle with the DC films and I wanted to go back to when they did it with Tim Burton’s Batman franchise. After Burton introduced the world to
Frank Reynolds The Penguin in his dark and twisted “Batman Returns,” WB stepped in and decided to muck with the successful formula to be more kid friendly. So they ousted Burton from the director’s chair and put in Joel “Bat Nipples” Schumacher to helm the third film, “Batman Forever.” He tried to combine the dark and gritty of Burton’s Frank Miller-inspired two films with the camp of the ‘60s Batman film and television show.
And we end up with Gotham City looking like a late ‘90s rave party, Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones doing their best homework assignment from Overacting 101, and a Batman who gets dinner via drive-thru.
In short, this movie is hot garbage.
But before we awkwardly zoom in on Batman’s crotch and butt, Brown what are your first thoughts on the movie that made me hate Jim Carrey for many years?
Brown: I kind of remember the hype around this movie. I was 8 years old. A couple years ago, I watched my first movie at a theater (to my recollection) with “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.” And thanks to the TV Guide channel playing movie trailers, I knew the entirety of the “Cuban Pete” song from “The Mark.”
So yeah, Jim Carrey was the first actor I would say was my favorite.
With that said, at that age, I wasn’t into Batman. I was more into Spider-Man.
But, there was one lasting legacy of this movie. Despite the fact that it was never actually played in “Batman Forever.”
So, while I make two halves of a suit fit together, I’ll let you kick this review off.
Froemming: Well, the first thing we really get is Bruce Wayne putting on the Batman suit, with odd zoom-ins on his crotch and butt for some reason. Why is the Dark Knight suiting up? Well it turns out Two-Face (Jones) is causing mayhem in Gotham and the city needs Batman to stop a person who is one-half man, one-half chewed bubble gum. Seriously, Two-Face looks like a wad of spat out Big League Chew.
At the scene, Batman meets psychologist and apparent nymphomaniac Dr. Chase Meridian, who despite being at a dangerous crime scene with hostages, is all over Batman because the screenwriter’s apparently never met a woman in real life.
Brown: I’m sure you had the same sense of shock at how Commissioner Gordon is in this movie compared to Gary Oldman in the Nolan movies. In “Batman Forever,” Gordon is, as Patton Oswalt would put it, is B-word fat.
Froemming: So we’re fat-shaming now, huh? We’re better than this, Brown.
Brown: Compared to Oldman, it’s weird to see a Gordon who is utterly useless and inconsequential. That’s what I’m getting at.
Now, we see Two-Face and his group of leather-clad, lucha-libre henchmen are trying to crack a safe. Eventually, Batman thwarts Two-Face and co. and tries to rescue a guard who is in the safe. Turns out, it’s a trap. And no, I’m not digging up the Akbar YouTube video.
It’s a safe… that spits out acid. Boiling acid. And, it’s being carried off by a helicopter.
I don’t know what’s more baffling: the acid safe or the copter lifting said safe.
Froemming: How about when, after using a hearing-aid to crack the safe, Batman hooks it into the drywall of a building, which somehow holds this ton-of-steel contraption? At this point I was reminded of how much Schumacher (REDACTED) all over the Batman franchise.
Also, is Gotham New York City? Because the helicopter crashes into the Statue of Liberty. I haven’t been this baffled by the location of Gotham since “Batman V. Superman” told us Gotham and Metropolis were like St. Paul/Minneapolis.
Anyway, Two-Face escapes to fight another day. And much like Tommy Lee Jones must have felt, I am disappointed by the fact he was in this movie.
Brown: Fun fact (well, not fun): Tommy Lee Jones HATED Jim Carrey. Here’s an US Weekly story on it. An actual quote from Tommy Lee Jones to Jim Carrey: “I cannot sanction your buffoonery.” Who talks like that?
Before the copter crashes into the Statue of Gotham, Batman somehow avoids being chopped into deli meat by getting through the windshield. Two-Face escapes but not after he puts The Club on the steering, because ‘90s and all.
And then Batman falls into the water below, which looks exactly like the title sequence to “Skyfall.”
Sadly, a good movie does not follow in this instance like it does in “Skyfall.”
Froemming: Next we have billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne at Wayne Industries because he is bored? I dunno. Anyway, he meets Edward Nygma (Carrey), a man who obviously needs medication and seems to have a crush on Wayne. He shows Bruce his new invention, The Whatchamacallit (technical term). The Whatchamacallit messes around with brain waves, but Edward wants to make it like a 3D television for people. Bruce, probably more afraid of potential lawsuits than supervillains, errs on the side of caution and wants to do more research on the ethical issues of such a device.
This causes old Ed to lose his damn mind.
Brown: Bruce Wayne… this Bruce Wayne, looks like one of the nameless “American Psycho” yuppies.
And I don’t know if you were like me, Froemming, but Carrey’s portrayal of Nygma was a bag of Jolly Ranchers away from being Jesse Eisenberg in “Batman v Superman.”
Froemming: It’s worse. I dreaded every time Carrey was on screen. Well, he and Jones went way over-the-top and to Schumacher, nuance is probably just another fancy word in the dictionary.
Brown: Also, imagine the Wayne Enterprise cleaning person who walks into Bruce’s office and says “door,” only to have the door close behind them. Then as they go by the desk and say “chair,” they fall right into the Batcave. That’s how simple it is to Batman in Joel Schumacher’s world.
The Bat Signal is up, but Gordon is nowhere to be found. Instead, it’s Dr. Meridian. In lingerie.
Yep. This is the kind of movie we’re dealing with.
Froemming: I love Nicole Kidman, but wow she is just a 13-year-old’s fantasy in this movie. I felt bad for her the whole time. Her character isn’t much of a character at all. Have I mentioned this movie is stupid, because it is.
Well, Gordon shows up and ends Meridian’s sexy party with Batman. Not before we have her ask what’s under his cape. Yeah, that happens in this. No wonder Kidman went to Scientology.
Brown: After getting fired and killing his boss for inventing 3D television, Nygma is officially off his rocker. He also lives in what looks like Max Headroom’s walk-in closet.
Froemming: Also, where did he get all the Riddler merch before The Riddler was a thing?
Brown: You watched ‘90s infomercials, right? He raided Matthew Lesko’s closet.
Froemming: His books never made me a millionaire. He was the true Riddler.
Brown: Back to my hatred of Gordon. When they visit Wayne Enterprises at the site of the boss’ death, all Gordon needs to see is a note that says “Goodbye cruel world” to be like “Yep, definitely suicide.” Chief Wiggum puts more efforts into cases than Gordon in this movie.
Froemming: I did chuckle at that. His “Yep, definitely suicide” line reminded me of the breast cancer moment in “The Room.” Just a WTF moment. Maybe Gordon is Claudette’s brother Harold.
Anyway, we find Nygma is getting smarter by feeding off brainwaves. And we see a court video of Harvey Dent getting acid thrown at his face and I swear I was laughing way too hard at Batman, just sitting in court, jumping up to try and save Harvey. Like, Batman just hangs around in court chambers and no one bats an eye?
Brown: He’s in a suit. I assumed Batman was an expert witness.
Bruce goes to visit Dr. Meridian in her office to have her look at a couple mysterious letters/riddles. Why Bruce Wayne doesn’t have to sign a sign-in sheet at the front desk and can just wonder the police station is beyond me.
Froemming: The rich are different from you and I. They can do whatever they want.
Brown: Another thing beyond my grasp is how after reading a ransom-style letter, Dr. Meridian immediately diagnoses the author as a wacko (her technical term) with obsessive and homicidal tendencies.
Bruce eventually asks Dr. Meridian out and they put on their Sunday’s finest for… the circus?! Yeah, no, I’m not dressing in a suit and a woman shouldn’t wear a dress when there’s clowns and elephant (REDACTED) all over the place.
Froemming: This circus also looks so dangerous I am shocked Trevor Reznik wasn’t there citing OSHA rules to everyone.
Anyway, we get to meet the Flying Graysons, circus performers who pull dangerous stunts and I’d imagine smell like cabbage.
During their routine without a net, the high-wire act is interrupted by Two-Face, who assumes Batman will show up to stop him and that will be his chance to kill him.
I have a hard time believing someone this stupid got through law school.
Brown: I had a hard time believing that the TV news was showing the circus on live TV.
So Two-Face has what looks like a wrecking ball filled with 200 sticks of dynamite. That’s when the Flying Graysons come to the rescue… only for three of them to get gunned down. Dick manages to lift this giant bomb thing and gets it to roll of the roof of the stadium.
And yeah, I don’t understand the schematics of this scene. I did the math on how much 200 sticks of dynamite weighs, which equaled out to 83 pounds. So, feasible Dick could lift it. But what is the ball made of?
The answer: it weighs as much as three human corpses because that’s what saving the bomb from blowing up a stadium full of people cost Dick Grayson.
Froemming: Dear god, I need a light moment after you went Zack Snyder dark there.
Brown: So now Dick lives with Bruce Wayne because he can somehow circumvent the adoption process.
Froemming: Bruce Wayne is a good man to adopt this 26-year-old orphan.
True to his name, Dick acts rude to Bruce and Alfred and wants to hit the dusty road to find and kill Two-Face. But is sorta tricked when Bruce shows him his garage full of motorcycles and Alfred has a wicked looking hamburger waiting for him. So he decides to stay.
And then we are subjugated to Dick doing laundry in the same fashion I’d imagine Mac from “It’s Always Sunny” would.
Brown: Dick’s tragedy is another reason for Bruce to bring up his own tragic backstory. I no longer care about Bruce’s plight. I have seen that story so many (REDACTED) times. Basically, if you don’t know how Bruce Wayne became Batman, that’s on you. And yes, I’m lumping newborns into that as well.
Froemming: This is even worse considering this is the third installment of 1989’s “Batman,” where we already saw the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Totally not needed here.
So Bruce is dumping his existential crisis on Dr. Meridian, while she has the hots for Batman. In a better director’s hands, this would have been an interesting dynamic. But we got the man who put nipples on the bat suit, so here we are.
Next we have Batman tooling around Gotham and somehow Two-Face is just waiting in disguise with a rocket launcher to try and kill the Dark Knight. This was when I wished I was watching “The Dark Knight” instead of this (REDACTED).
Brown: Oh, it took me a watching of “Get Out” and a playthrough of the second Batman Telltale game to get “Batman Forever” out of my brain.
When Two-Face attacked the Batmobile with the rocket launcher … can’t you reload the rocket launcher, guy. This whole gunfight with Batman, that’s how pro-NRA people look at Chicago. By this point, I think I was up to four times where I asked myself what convinced Tommy Lee Jones to take this role.
Froemming: Short answer: His kid’s favorite character in the comics was Two-Face. Also, money.
Meanwhile, Dick pulls some weird moves from the top balcony of Wayne Manor to sneak up on Alfred heading to the Batcave, where he then steals the Batmobile for a joyride.
Remember Heath Ledger’s brilliant, Oscar-winning performance in the “Dark Knight?” That was merely 13 years away at this point. *sigh*
So Dick drives the car into a shady, neon-lit neighborhood full of ravers rolling on ecstasy and tries to help some poor woman being assaulted by techno-listening weirdos with painted faces. Gotham is the worst elements of Coachella.
Brown: Before this, we get our first glimpse of the bad guy power couple of Two-Face and The Riddler. They meet in Two-Face’s lair, and when Two-Face arrives, YOU CAN SEE RIDDLER HIDING IN THE SHADOWS. Seriously, watch this clip and look to the right at the 25-second mark.
Also, (REDACTED) Drew Barrymore is in this movie?
The Riddler’s plan to enslave Gotham is to use his Wayne Enterprise technology called The Box. Nevermind that it’s a cone. While people think they are watching 3D TV, Riddler and Two-Face can steal people’s thoughts.
Froemming: They were the original Cambridge Analytica. HYOOOOOH!
Brown: Topical jokes!
After Dick survives the laser tag Insane Clown Posse, we have a black-tie affair to introduce… Nygma’s device that everyone already has.
And it’s here where I realize that Joel Schumacher has no idea how journalism works.
Froemming: To be fair, he also doesn’t understand plot, character development and movie making in general. Also, the Cantina Band from “Star Wars” now look like they invaded a Hot Topic here.
At this gala, Edward’s hair turns from shock red to normal brown, because sure. He sees Bruce and starts attempting to mock him, which goes over about as well as you’d think. Hard to mock someone who already looks down upon you and doesn’t care. It kinda felt like when the gang from “It’s Always Sunny” went to their high school reunion and still got crapped on by the cool kids.
Brown: Two-Face shows up to capture Batman because Riddler is taking a little too long. Mr. Jones, I cannot sanction your buffoonery.
Froemming: Before this buffoonery that musn’t be sanctioned, Bruce has Drew Barrymore (?) turn off the Box, which like you said, is a cone. Only to sneak it back on when Bruce is inside the thing. Data mining was very real in 1995, folks. He is shaken out of his stupor by Two-Face’s gunfire, but Nygma now has all of Bruce’s secrets. Well, later on he takes a giant leap in conjecture as to what the symbols in Wayne’s brain are, but is correct.
Brown: During this skirmish, Dr. Meridian tells Batman to meet up at her place at midnight. And like anyone who set up a booty call with a Bat, Dr. Meridian is asleep at midnight.
They share a kiss, only for Dr. Meridian to (kind of) say she’s in love with Bruce.
And then Batman smiles. And it’s more out of character than anything Adam West’s Batman did.
Froemming: Hold on, I need this.
Brown: After this meeting, Bruce tells Dick that he’s going to end his life as Batman and let Dr. Meridian into his life. And it all comes to a head on Halloween night. Only, Two-Face and Riddler become that teen duo who go trick-or-treating as high schoolers and attack Alfred at the front door.
The Riddler starts bombing the Batcave, going so far as to pantomime a pitcher with a wad of tobacco in his mouth and a crotch grab after he’s done.
This movie is for the children. Just like how Wu-Tang is for the children.
Froemming: They discovered Bruce was Batman because there was an image of a bat in Bruce’s brain. Just think, 10 years after this Chris Nolan and Christian Bale would make the first of a really good trilogy of Batman films grounded in realism. *sigh*
Anyway, Bruce wakes up to find that Chase has been captured by Riddler and Two-Face. He also just so happens to have an extra Batsuit laying around that is new and experimental. It looks ridiculous and we get another crotch and butt shot as he puts it on.
Brown: And now, we have Robin! Who proves to be pretty lousy at his job when the Batboat gets blown up with Robin at the helm.
Before the attack, we see Batman give Gordon a thumbs up.
Adam West 2, Val Kilmer 0. Though to be fair, everything else in this movie is just so dumb.
Froemming: After some dumb underwater fighting, the Dynamic Duo start in on Nygma’s hideout. Well, Batman does, Robin stays behind and gets in a fight with Two-Face. He nearly kills the man who destroyed his family when Two-Face is dangling from a cliff, but decides to save him and gets captured for being an idiot.
Brown: So there’s Riddler to deal with. And his grand scheme is… the Spider-Man/Green Goblin dilemma. You can save your girl or your sidekick. You can’t pick both. God…
Froemming: In 13 years, Christopher Nolan would use a similar concept in “The Dark Knight,” a movie so good that it is regarded as the high water mark of the superhero film genre. *sigh*
Brown: Apparently, there was an option C: destroy the cone over Riddler’s head, which destroys his brainwave device and causes a mental breakdown. And Batman beats gravity by saving Dr. Meridian and Robin.
But at the bottom of a pit of rusty sharp metal and water is Two-Face, who’s there to put a bullet in everyone’s head.
Batman’s way out of this is to play to Two-Face’s obsessive compulsion of flipping a coin. Only, Batman throws a bunch of coins into the air to confuse Two-Face, who falls to his death.
Remember when Batman didn’t kill?
Froemming: Batman has killed in every movie except “Batman & Robin.”
Two-Face is (presumed) dead and Riddler is in Arkham Asylum, where Dr. Meridian visits him to make sure he isn’t spilling the beans on her boyfriend’s secret identity. Though I doubt any doctor would take the rantings of a madman seriously.
She then tells Bruce not to work too late and we see Batman and Robin running in front of a spotlight.
Riddle me this: Nah, it’s time for recommendations.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Froemming: Oh no. This movie is awful. The acting, the story, everything about it sucks.
Brown: Nope. It’s not as bad as “Batman & Robin,” but watch every other non-Schumacher Batman before ever picking this one up.