I have to say, I’m quite enjoying this journey back to the year I was born. I mean, politically it was a pretty shitty time in the UK but there are plenty of cool films that I’m yet to discover. I’m not suggesting that all films from this year are going to be stellar or even completely watchable but I’d say, on a whole, I’m not ashamed of my birth year. I discovered the other day that a lot of the films in my TBT jar are currently on Netflix UK. I guess its possible 1988 films are popular because of the big 3-0 anniversary but maybe it’s just cheaper. I don’t know and, really, I don’t care. If it’s as simple to get through my Throwback Thirty list as turning on Netflix and relaxing then I’m happy. Still, it does mean I’m taking the whole ‘randomly pick a film out of the jar’ thing a little less seriously. I genuinely picked a Netflix film this week but, after finding so many on there, I’m tempted to change the rules. The problem is, there are a lot of films in the jar that I love or am super keen to watch but a fair few that I think it will be tougher to get myself to watch. The more serious and filmy films. If I don’t stick to the “rules” then I’ll only watch the ridiculous films like Killer Klowns From Outer Space or Who Framed Roger Rabbit and not the films like Cinema Paradiso. Basically, I’d just watch films that meant I didn’t need to think. I wasn’t sure how I’d fair with today’s prompt but I sat down anyway. After all, I’m a big fan of Alec Baldwin’s face in the 80s and, even though he’s only in this film briefly, it was enough of an incentive.
Thankfully, I was able to catch up with myself for Throwback Thirty this week. After failing to watch Short Circuit 2 after I drew it out of my jar I actually managed it for today. Yesterday I settle down and had an afternoon of Johnny 5. It’s been ages since I last say Short Circuit so I wanted to remind myself… you know, in case it was too difficult to work out what was going on! Other than reminding me of how much I adore Ally Sheedy and causing me to Google (not for the first or the last time) ‘what is Steve Guttenberg doing these days?’, my rewatch of the 1986 science-fiction film wasn’t that memorable. I remember liking this film way more than I did. I don’t even think I had much of a warm nostalgic feeling about it. It just seemed a bit shit now. Of course, it was always shit but when you’re a kid nothing with a talking robot will ever be completely terrible, right? I mean, if I’m honest, the talking robot was still pretty cool as a nearly 30 year old but I was still disappointed with the film. So, it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I sat down to watch the sequel for the first time. If there’s one thing we know it’s that the sequel is always worse than the original… and I say that as a younger twin. So I know what I’m talking about.
Back for the second in my new series Throwback Thirty. Where I randomly pick a film from 1988 and review it in honour of my upcoming 30th birthday. Self-obsessed? Maybe. Fun? Well, that depends on the film really. There’s a mixed bag of serious and silly in my jar so I do have a slight fear every week that it’ll be something I’m not in the right frame of mind for. As much as I wanted to pick all of the shittest and strangest films I could find, I decided, if I was going to do this, I should at least do it properly. This means there are a fair few films that I’ve not seen. Including today’s pick. I’m a fan of Monty Python because, let’s face it, who isn’t a fan of them? Not only am I British, so it’s in my blood, but I’m a huge fan of weird humour. And it doesn’t get much weirder than those guys. Still, my love of Python hasn’t completely pushed me towards the films of Terry Gilliam. I’ve not seen them all and it’s mainly because I don’t know where to start. Gilliam has had a mixed career as a director in the minds of many people but also hailed as a genius. The Gilliam I’ve seen has also been a mixed bag. So I was quite excited about the prospect of watching this film. It is infamous for having a troubled production and bombing at the box office. If I’m going to work my way through Gilliam’s back catalogue I might as well start here.
It’s been 22 years since Jumanji, the film directed by Joe Johnston and based on Chris Van Allsburg’s book, was released. That film was groundbreaking in the 90s for its use of CGI and has become a much loved classic thanks to Robin Williams’ lead role. The original book isn’t exactly crammed with material to adapt but there was so much potential with the concept of a board game that came to life. I can’t remember how many times I’ve watched the original film at this point but it always makes me feel like a kid again. I know it’s meant to be a kind of scary situation but I’ve always wanted to play this fucking game. I don’t care how many monkey’s destroy my kitchen or monsoons fill up my entire house with water. It looks really fun… and incredibly dangerous obviously. For a movie that has it’s fair share of flaws, it’s pretty damn perfect and has remained a classic even though it hasn’t really aged well. So the news that we were getting a new film was worrying. I know Hollywood likes to remake and reboot franchises these days but, surely, nobody would be stupid enough to try and remake the original? I mean Robin Williams made that film what it was so trying to make it without him would be suicide. However, the news that this would be more of a sequel than a remake was enough to get me a bit excited. Dropping the Rock, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan into the jungle? Who wouldn’t want to see that even a little bit? Was I still annoyed that they were squeezing as much cash out of the original film as possible? Was I still worried that it was going to be a terrible mess? Was I concerned to see Karen Gillan dressed like Lara Croft despite it being 2017? Yes, yes, and hells yes! Did I care enough to not see it? Nah.
I have to say , considering the quality of the previous 2 Thor films, it’s been pretty difficult to be a fan of Marvel’s God of Thunder. He has always been my favourite male superhero in the Marvel comic book world but it’s been hard to convince non-comic book fans that he deserves that title. Iron Man is the funny and cool one thanks to RDJ. Captain America has, the best Marvel film, Winter Solider, to make himself look better. But Thor? He’s had a pretty poor showing in terms of solo film outings. I say as someone who adores the first Thor film but also understands that it leaves a lot to be desired. I understand the second one is dire but we don’t need to go into that again. This back catalogue of frustratingly weak films have meant that a lot of people have overlooked Thor. He hasn’t made enough of an impact. His own films are just irritatingly lacking and he tends to get lost in the huge ensembles of the two Avengers movies. Heck, he wasn’t even allowed in Civil War. Instead Thor was benched along with the other Avenger that nobody really knows what to do with: the Hulk. The problem is the very concept of the Thunder God. He’s so caught up in mythology that there is a tendency to play him straight. Living up in his own realm of the God’s means he feels even less realistic than the rest of the line-up and that really is saying something. His roles in these films have left Thor feeling like the weak link in the chain. He’s neither the funniest, the most badass, nor the most memorable of the Avengers. Hollywood just doesn’t know what to do with him. Or at least they didn’t. From the minute the first images of Ragnarok came out I was convinced this would be the film we Thor fans have been waiting for. It had Guardians of the Galaxy style humour, an 80s aesthetic, and a fucking awesome soundtrack. Even before I’d seen it I was sure it was going to be my cup of tea. Of course, the fact that it would also serve as the closest we’d get to a Planet Hulk movie was just an added bonus.
The main problem that I remember from watching Thor: The Dark World is that it tried far too hard to be dark. It was around the time that Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy was at the height of its popularity and before Zack fucking Snyder made us all weary of the grungy, angsty comic book movie. It didn’t really have that fun, silliness, or, at the very least, self-awareness that the best Marvel films have in buckets. It was all dark elves, family melodrama, and a naked Stellan Skarsgård. The second Thor film was trying to be something it wasn’t and the end result really showed what a mistake it was. Thankfully, for his third solo outing for the MCU, it seems Marvel have really learnt their lesson. Despite the title’s reference to Ragnarok, the apocalyptic demise of the Norse God’s, this film is anything but dark. Something we learn from the very first scene is that not only has Thor finally found an on screen presence but he’s managed to pick up a great sense of humour along the way.
For too long comic book movies have been trying to make themselves seem as grown-up and serious. Ragnarok understands that all of this is so crazy that it’s pointless trying to play it straight. Marvel films have dabbled in humour before but Thor 3 has a completely different feel to it. It’s more like a comedy film that happens to be about comic book characters instead of a comic book movie with more jokes. Marvel have always been good at letting unexpected directors have a go at massive Blockbusters but New Zealand born director Taika Waititi is, perhaps, the weirdest so far. Thankfully, he was allowed the chance to do his own thing and, as we can see, it works wonderfully.
Ragnarok has a bit of work to do before it gets down to the real business. We left The Dark World with Loki on the throne in disguise and we last saw Thor vowing the track down the remaining infinity stones. So Thor goes back to Asgard to sort shit out but, before he’s even got time to breathe, his long lost sister Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death, turns up to royally fuck shit up. She wants revenge on her father and his people for casting her out years ago. Unfortunately, as this is going on Thor (Christ Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) find themselves stranded on a distant planet, Sakaar, presided over by the villainous Grand Master (Jeff Goldblum). Whilst Loki is taken in as a friend, Thor is captured and turned into a gladiator. With no other means of escape, Thor is left with no other choice but to fight the Grand Master’s Champion; who, as we all know, just happens to be the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Can Thor, the Big Guy, his sketchy brother and their new ally, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), an ex-Asgardian warrior with a grudge to settle.
In terms of the basic narrative there isn’t a great deal of excitement and Ragnarok treads very worn Marvel ground. This rag-tag bunch of heroes come together to fight a big evil to save the world. However, there is so much more going on that it doesn’t even feel that familiar. The sub-plot on Sakaar is fabulous and both Hemsworth and Ruffalo get the chance they both deserve to flesh out their characters. His recent pitstop in comedy films has left Christ Hemsworth with a greater comedic confidence and, for the first time since he first donned the red cape, he looks comfortable in the role. Conversely, Ruffalo finally has something to do as he starts to flesh out the green monster before the upcoming Infinity War films. I’ve read criticism that the film completely rewrites these characters but I just see it as positive development. This is one friendship I can’t wait to see get stronger.
There are some amazing performances on display in this film. Jeff Goldblum is at his most Jeff Goldblum and manages to walk the line of annoyingly hammy without falling into oblivion. Tess Thompson is sensational in her role and more than makes up for the abysmal female presence in the previous Thor films. Tom Hiddleston is perfect as Loki, as usual, but over time I find myself tiring of the “is he good or bad?” narrative. It just gets old. Still, I’m always happy to see that face. Finally, Idris Elba, returning as Heimdall, is worth noting. If only for the fact that, at the point that he takes off his cloak, his beefy arms. I love the change Heimdall has made from Gatekeeper to fucking badass.
My only real problem with Ragnarok (aside from the pointless and built up Dr Strange cameo) is Hela herself. The great villain looks the part but never gets the chance to get going. It’s a waste of Blanchett’s talents and a potentially great bad guy. Every time the action switches back to Asgard I couldn’t help but wish I was back on Sakaar. Hela feels out of place in this film just as all the references to genocide and darker elements do. These references are fleeting but they do stick out badly. There are also some poignant moments that are not dealt with properly. It can feel a bit weird. But, really, it doesn’t matter. Everything is held together thanks to an immense amount of charm, humour and utter silliness. This film knows it’s dealing with nonsense so plays up on that fact. I lost count of the time I genuinely laugh-out-loud watching this. Minor problems aside, this the greatest Marvel movie you’ll ever have seen.
Without being too mean, my neighbours are weird. Well, the mother is super weird. She has this incredible obsession with her garden, which causes her to lose her mind every so often. At the end of October it was fucking windy as Storm Brian passed over the UK. Overnight the weather went mental and blew over a few of her plants. The wind didn’t really let up for the entire weekend but that didn’t stop my insane neighbour wrestling with her trees to get them to stand up. It was quite a sight. It’s not the first nor will it be the last time she goes on a crazy gardening rampage. She’s the kind of woman who, when you accidentally cut your hedge too short, will start having an emotional breakdown in the garden because she doesn’t like it. But, hey, we’ve all been there, right? Am I scared that one day her intense love of horticulture will lead to more violent pursuits? Sure. You might say I’m being paranoid but it’s probably got more to do with the fact that I’ve just watched The ‘Burbs. But you have never seen my neighbour. If you told me she had a big collection of bones hidden under her house then I probably wouldn’t be shocked.
I’m going to be honest with you, I’m not really feeling today’s TBT review so it’s gonna be brief. I watched The ‘Burbs because it had come up in a recent conversation and happened to be on Netflix. It was a perfectly enjoyable film. It’s an underrated 80s comedy thriller type thing with starring Tom Hanks, Carrie Fisher, Corey Feldman and Bruce Dern. I mean it’s probably not aged as well as other films from the 80s and the ending sort of loses its way but, for the most part, it does it’s job pretty well. The story is a simple one: a group of suburban neighbours begin to suspect that the new faimly on the block is up to no good. When they operate stranger machinery and dig up their garden late at night, a paranoid Ray (Tom Hanks) decides that his mysterious new neighbours are hiding secrets. Spurred on by the supposed disappearance of another resident of the street, Ray and his friends decide the family are murderers and head out to find the body. Obviously, chaos and hilarity ensues.
So the premise ends up being a fairly interesting and pretty understandable one. Especially in the days when people don’t really know their neighbours anymore. How do we really know what anyone is up to? It’s like on the news when people always say the man who turned out to be a serial killer was a quiet, seemingly normal man. It brings about a certain amount of humour and there are some great moments. It’s not one of Tom Hanks’ most memorable roles but it’s fine. Corey Feldman is perhaps the greatest member of the cast simply because he’s the one that gets to have the most fun.
My only real problem with this film is how far off course it goes. It’s got that 80s thing where it just gets excessively insane without ever really knowing what to do. As the film progresses things seem to get more away from the story and the ending just ends up being a little too weird. It’s kind of like the last few novels Stephen King has released: building up tension to a point where it just goes too batshit crazy to be scary. Although, The ‘Burbs isn’t trying to scare it’s audience, per se, but it does end up taking the parody of a horror film too far. There are better comedy horror films out there but The ‘Burbs has a certain amount of nostalgia to it. It’s definitely not the worst thing to come out of the 80s but there’s probably a good reason it hasn’t really stood the test of time.
So, anyone who has been around for a while will have noticed that last month I neglected to publish a ‘TOP 10 WEN-SDAY’ in September. My excuse? Well, to be perfectly honest, I’ve grown tired of the whole thing. It was never really my favourite post to do and I was regularly having to madly finish it at around midnight. I just never had any good ideas and, most of the time, was just writing it for the sake of it. I’ve never wanted this blog to be about posting shit for the sake of it. Though it might not always read like it, I want to post stuff that I’m happy with. I write this blog because I enjoy writing and for the experience. It’s not really about engagement or anything. So, for the time being at least, I’m scrapping the whole Top 10 thing. Instead I’m going to be posting more regularly on a Wednesday (or whatever day I can). I won’t promise it’ll be every week but I’m gonna try. The hope is that these new posts will be helpful in their own way. Most probably more literary in theme or a bit more personal. At least until the end of the year. Then, if I need to overhaul everything in 2018 then so be it. So, as a starting point, I’m reposting something that I recently updated to Instagram that I rather enjoyed doing. It’s 5 (ish) weird facts about me. Let’s do this.
- Whenever I walk past a cat in the street I maintain eye contact for as long as possible… I don’t trust those little buggers. It’s always best to see what they’re up to at all times.
- I don’t give a shit about any of your dreams but, if you give me the chance, I will describe, in great detail, the one I had that ended with Donald Sutherland shouting at me. I was dating his son and spilt wine on his carpet. It was a whole thing…
- I’ve spent a good 10 years worrying about the opening line to Shakira’s song The One. “So I found a reason to shave my legs each single morning”? I mean how hairy is she? How quickly does it grow back? I know she sang She-Wolf but are we absolutely sure that Shakira isn’t a werewolf?
- You know the poem that tells you how many days are in each month? I have to recite that on a regular basis in order to remember. I working in a kitchen so am putting dates on things every day. The end of the month is always a stressful time… and don’t even get me started on February.
- It still really worries me that, if the multiverse theory is true, there exists at least one parallel universe in which Bradley Cooper is a double Oscar winning actor. Bradley fucking Cooper!? Think about that for a second if you dare.
- I love the TV show Thunderbirds and, when I was younger, I had a bit of a crush on Alan Tracy, the youngest member of International Rescue. He was a good looking puppet.
- In 2007 I stumbled across a YouTube video a young girl had made in honour of her dead rabbit. It consisted of a slideshow of photos of the rabbit set to Avril Lavigne’s When You’re Gone. It was one of the most heartfelt and sincere things I’ve ever watched but also the silliest. I have never been able to get that video out of my mind and, for the rest of my life, I will always associate that song with rabbits.
There’s a lot to be said for my love of Kate McKinnon. I was almost 100% sure that I didn’t want to ever watch Rough Night but every time I saw the trailer I couldn’t help but think “Kate McKinnon though…”. So I decided to just go with it. Best case scenario: it’d be the new Bridesmaids. Worst case scenario: well, I’ve seen both of the Sex and the City movie and it’s got to be better than that, right? Don’t even ask me how that happened but it did. When you’ve seen those films and Mama Mia it becomes really difficult to imagine a film that I can hate quite as much. With every second of SATC2, each cell in my body started to shrink into itself out of anger and embarrassment; embarrassment for the people who made it, the people who liked it and for me, for making the decision to watch it. The good thing about writing this blog over the years is that I have a different range for what is good and bad. It’s like studying novels of sensibility during my Masters degree. I suddenly found a new appreciation for all of the books I thought were rubbish because they all had something more than just countless stupid young women fainting at the slightest sound. Once again, provided nobody in Rough Night fainted in the arms of their creepy uncle/step father then this definitely wouldn’t be the worst story I’ve ever experienced. So that’s something.
For one moment back in 2011 it seemed as though the world was finally ready to accept that women deserved to be given the chance to be a outrageously funny as men. As though everyone else was as sick of seeing the guys from films like The Hangover get into drunken capers and were as desperate to let the ladies have a go. Unfortunately, the change never really happened and the path towards gender equality in terms of comedy films has been a slow and painful one. It’s not as if people haven’t tried. Hell, Paul Feig is and Melissa McCarthy are trying desperately to make the raunchy female lead comedy land. It hasn’t quite worked in the way we wanted. Look at the internet’s reaction to a female only Ghostbusters for fuck’s sake. Clearly, that glass ceiling is still as thick as ever.
But that doesn’t mean Hollywood isn’t willing to give these types of films as chance when they arise. The latest is Rough Night from the writers of Broad City and boasts a great cast of female talent. It is also, in its basic form, like a female reworking of the 1998 Jon Favreau film Very Bad Things with a slight hint of The Hangover. A while ago I read a comment on the internet, probably YouTube, that was basically an outcry from some guy about remaking Very Bad Things with women. Now I can just about get that people were worried about Ghostbusters because it’s such a classic. But Very Bad Things? Nobody is worrying about that reputation being ruined. I mean it’s not exactly gone down in cinematic history. Who’s thinking “oh, I vividly remember watching Very Bad Things for the first time and don’t want my important memories to be destroyed”? Yeah, no one.
But, as it happens, Rough Night actually builds on the Very Bad Things legacy by being forgettably bad. The film is set around one night on the bachelorette party of wannabe Senator Jess (Scarlett Johansson). It is being planned by her college roommate Alice (Jillian Bell) who is feeling neglected by her old friend. Joining the pair are their fellow college friends, Blair (Zoë Kravitz) and Frankie (Ilana Glazer), who are battling with their messy romantic past as well as problems in their current lives. A random element turns up in the shape of a woman Jess befriended during a year studying in Australia. Pippa (Kate McKinnon) is a bit of a weirdo and instantly puts Alice’s nose out of joint by appearing to be much closer to the bride-to-be. After a night of cocaine, drinking and choreographed dance routines, the group return to the house they’ve rented to carry on the fun. Blair orders Jess a stripper but, a ridiculous accident, causes his untimely death. The ladies are then left with a body on their hands.
From the outset, Rough Night is desperate to prove that these women are ready to party and there is no underlying sense of judgement going on. The women are all allowed to enjoy their night out without the audience getting the feeling that it’s wrong. It also helps that the characters naturally fit together on screen. Their attempts at typical lad banter feels more natural than it does in a lot of these types of films. Rough Night isn’t a terrible film and there are plenty of funny moments. However, most of these moments are the smaller, throwaway gags that get lost in the mess. The rest of that mess is catered to specific criteria set about for commercial purposes. There is the generic slapstick silliness from the trailer and the cringey attempts to bring big laughs to all the idiots that are rushing out to see this film. It’s mostly just a big miss and the best moments are brushed aside for supposedly “guaranteed” laughs.
Rough Night isn’t the worst movie of this type around and, thanks mostly to the cast, manages to create some positive and memorable moments. However, it is a film that is clearly at odds with itself. It is written by clever writers who know how to bring the humour out of weirdness and stars actors willing to get a bit freaky. However, it ends up playing too close to the stereotypical humour of these R rated comedies. It’s a bit too big and brash to really work completely. Everyone is working overtime to make it come together but it’s a runaway train of outrageous comedy. As the narrative moves forward and more insane subplots keep popping up it just gets out of hand. Rough Night is trying so hard to be The Hangover that it’s forgotten the heart that made Bridesmaids so appealing. It’s so annoying in it’s desperation to appeal to everyone that is forgets to be funny or sweet. Although, there are some positives to take away. Most notably the relationship between Blair and Frankie, which is played out more naturally than most same-sex romances you see on screen anymore. This film could have been good had it focused a bit more on emotions and character than on trying to compete with the guys.
On Tuesday I criticised Will Ferrell’s new film The House for being short at 88 minutes long. Casa di mi Padre undercuts that by 3 minutes. So, if you thought I was harsh to the former then just wait until I get started on the latter. Until I watched it specifically for this review I’d never seen this film before. I used to pride myself on watching every film that Will Ferrell starred in but, over the years, I’ve really become quite lax in my viewing. I think it was probably around the Bewitched era when it just became a bit too much for me. I feel as though I’m on fairly safe ground with any kind of Will Ferrell/Adam McKay combination but the pair only act as one of the many producers for this film. Instead it is a combined effort of ex-SNL writer, Andrew Steele’s, script and Funny or Die co-creator, Matt Piedmont, in the director’s chair. I can’t say that, after seeing the disappointing results of a union between Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler, I wasn’t exactly excited to see this. Especially when it couldn’t even find enough comedy to fill a 90 minute running time. Then again, maybe it’s just so well-developed that anything over 85 minutes would be too much for the audience to handle? It’s possible, right?
You know that Will Ferrell character who starts off being a mild-mannered, lovable loser who is forced to become a badass? You might well ask “which one?” because, these days, it’s fucking all of them. He’s the guy we saw it in The Other Guys, The House, Get Hard, and Daddy’s Home. No doubt there are countless others that I just never got round to seeing. Casa de mi Padre is different, though, because Ferrell turns into a badass whilst speaking Spanish. Genius! Casa de mi Padre is the telenovela parody that nobody wanted or needed Ferrell to be a part of. A film that combines subtitles, an impressive cast, including Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna, an utterly silly narrative and, underwhelming jokes. What’s not to love?
We have seen Ferrell take on many unlikely guises over the years but this has to be one of the more out there ones. He plays Armando Álvarez, a Mexican rancher on his father’s cattle ranch. His world is turned upside down when his younger brother, Raúl (Diego Luna), returns to the homestead with a beautiful fiance, Sonia (Génesis Rodríguez), in tow. Armando not only instantly falls for his future sister-in-law but discovers that his brother is a drugs dealers who has come back to finish his war with fellow dealer Onza (Gael García Bernal). When Sonia is put in danger, Armando has to prove himself to everyone who saw him as the useless brother.
It’s hardly the most exicting or original story we’ve ever seen but that is probably more to do with the genre it is parodying. This isn’t really a film that wants to do something new and exciting but that wants to give Ferrell and co the chance to go all out with their performances. The problem is, there isn’t enough within Casa di mi Padre to get a lot of laughs out of. That’s not to say that there aren’t any enjoyable moments in the film but they are few and far between. Most of the humour is forced through obvious spoofs of the television dramas it is based on. There are dodgy backdrops, ‘hilarious’ bad continuity, and terrible editing. Still, there are a couple of memorable moments that will get more than a mere titter form the audience. It’s just a shame that there aren’t more.
Honestly, there is never a point where Casa di mi Padre feels like a real film. It’s more like a sketch that really outstays it’s welcome or a fake trailer that would briefly go viral before becoming irrelevant. Unfortunately, it is a real film and it stars real actors. They all give it their best shot but there is just too little for them to work with. It never really strikes a balance between serious or silly. Ferrell always gives 100% to every part he plays but there isn’t enough to Armando for it to ever come to anything. His Spanish lines always feel too awkward to feel real but not silly enough to feel intentional. This could have been a wonderful and fresh comedy but it just feels cheap and pointless.
I’m so tired right now. I’ve had a string of early shifts this week and it’s killing me. Tomorrow is my last day before I have a week off and I can’t wait. I just need to sleep for a week. I have no plans and, quite frankly, it’s a delightful thought. Still, before I can start to relax too much I have to get tomorrow over and done with. And before I can get work finished I have to go to bed. And before I do that I have to finish this review. God, why did I leave this to the last minute again? I was getting so much better with my schedule. So, this is no doubt going to be terrible and rushed but it’s an idea I’ve been thinking about all week. So let’s just get on with it.
Apparently, back in 2010 Batman and Robin was officially named the worst film ever by readers of Empire magazine. I mean, I know it’s a terrible film, that’s not something I’m going to argue with, but “the worst” film ever made? That seems a bit melodramatic. I’ve since loads of films I’d rather watch less than I’d watch Batman and Robin. Plus, a lot of the arguments against Joel Schumacher’s second time adapting the adventures of the Caped Crusader onto the screen revolve around it being a killer of a successful franchise. When it was released this would have been true but you can hardly say that now. Without Joel Schumacher there would, realistically, have been no Christopher Nolan. It took a film so desperately bad and stupid for people to say “we need a new, darker Dark Knight”. Batman and Robin is the Joker to The Dark Knight‘s Batman. And don’t people really love the Joker?
Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that this film is full of redeeming features. This isn’t like the time I tried to defend the prequels to you all. I’m not stupid. I know this film is bad. However, I’m here to argue that is falls into the category of ‘so bad it’s good’. Everything about this film is trying to get me to hate it but I just can’t. It makes me cringe but in the same way that people really seem to like about The Inbetweeners. You know that everything happening before your eyes is bad and should be stopped. Can you stop watching it though? I can’t.
Of course, I’m not a fucking moron. This film is downright bad. It was a misguided attempt to turn the character of Batman into a cartoon character that would appeal to children and create loads of money through merchandising. It was film-making for all the wrong reasons and Joel Schumacher was too arrogant to see that he couldn’t pull it off. Batman, as fans of the comic books are always ready to remind us, is serious business. This film is like a fucking toy advert that makes Adam West’s television series look like a bloody Shakespeare play. It’s bad. The batsuit nipples, the bat credit card, Alicia Silverstone, Mr Freeze, Uma Thurman, Chris O’Donnell, Bane. I could sit here just typing out everything single person or inanimate object that appears in this movie because it’s all just awful.
However, I can’t help but like this film just a little bit. I mean doesn’t it kind of fill you with joy that a film could be made that’s quite this bad? There are barely any (and that’s being too nice) redeeming features of this film which, in itself, is a bit of a redeeming feature. It’s the same mentality I have about Mama Mia. I hate that film with every fibre of me being but I sometimes have a huge desire to sit there and watch it. Why? Because it’s so fucking bad and that’s kind of comforting. I think we live in what could be described as a Golden Age of Hollywood where actors are getting better, scripts are getting more intelligent and well-written, and directors are finding new ways to knock our socks off. So, when one major fuck up slips through the cracks you have to kind of love it. It’s like those contestants that somehow get through to the live rounds on X Factor despite having no real talent. The audience loves them because they are so bad.
But that’s not the only reason to love it. Batman and Robin is camp and shitty, undoubtedly. But it’s meant to be camp and shitty. It plays off against the super dark Tim Burton offerings to get back to the unintentionally camp and shitty 60s show… on purpose. If nothing else, you have to admire the fact that Joel Schumacher sees Batman for what he kind of is. Yes, the comic book character is dark and gritty and everything. But there has always been an inherent silliness to the character. He’s a billionaire who dresses like a fucking bat. He has loads of bat related toys, gadgets and vehicles. That’s always been silly. This just puts that at the forefront instead of pretending this is all just very cool and realistic. The reason this film is so reviled is not because it is truly “the worst film ever” but because it’s the worst Batman film ever. For awful comic book fans that’s the worst thing in the world.
They need to chill the fuck out. Now, I love Tim Burton’s Batman films more than any other films that have been made about Bruce Wayne and his alter ego. But I have to admit that there are some improvements here. These feel more self-aware and less bogged down with u necessary tension. George Clooney makes a pretty decent and not-someone-you-instantly-want-to-punch-in-the-face kind of Bruce Wayne. Yes, he’s not great but he brings a softer and more human side to the character. It’s nice. This is the one of the few versions of Bruce Wayne that you might actually want to have a beer with. These positives aren’t anything to write home about but they’re something.
I’m not going to pretend this film is good: it’s not. It fails at being a comedy, it fails at being dramatic, it fails at telling a decent story, and it fails at creating interesting characters with interesting arcs. It is the results of three or four small plots being sewn together by someone who has never seen a needle and thread before. However, it does succeed in being terrible. Which, quite frankly, is not nothing. It’s something. And it’s something that demands to be remembered every now and then. Because, how else will we all remember Arnie telling us it’s “ice to see you”?