Don’t Watch It, John: Batman and Robin (1997)

The idea behind the Don’t Watch It, John! series is to find cinema that’s so rotten, so foul, so incredibly fetid that no other human being would dare recommend it to another human being. So why on earth would I watch this stuff? I like to think of myself much like Colonel Nathan Jessup in A Few Good Men. We live in a world that has horrible movies, and those horrible movies have to be kept from potential viewers. Who’s gonna do it? You? You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That someone watching movies like Batman and Robin (1997), while tragic, probably saves lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You want me on that wall, you need me on that wall, protecting you from the cinematic horrors of the world. For this entry, it’s a re-watch of a film that I first saw in the late 90s. Iiiiice to seeee you again, Batman and Robin.

What is Batman and Robin?
The Netflix plot description: 

Along with crime-fighting partner Robin (Chris O’Donnell) and new recruit Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone), Batman (George Clooney) battles the dual threat of frosty genius Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and homicidal horticulturalist Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman). Freeze plans to put Gotham City on ice, while Ivy tries to drive a wedge between the dynamic duo. With winking jokes and powerhouse action, Batman & Robin makes a great franchise addition.

Yeah, anyone “winking” at the jokes was most likely having a seizure. Mostly what I remembered from the first watch was that it was bad and it featured a ton of horrible ice puns from Arnold Schwarzenegger. Also, there were bat nipples on the bat suit. Bat nipples, for chrissakes!

Who stars in this cinematic monstrosity? It’s a Who’s Who of 1990s stars. George Clooney was fresh off of success on the TV series E.R. Uma Thurman was picking up huge paychecks after Pulp Fiction. Chris O’Donnell and Alicia Silverstone were thrown in to appeal to the under-25 crowd (which was me when I first saw it). And just for grins, there were some cameos, which I’ll touch on later.

The Stats: It has a 3.6 grade (out of 10) from IMDb users, which somehow keeps it safe from the notorious Bottom 100. More appropriately, Rotten Tomatoes has it at 12%. That’s still not as bad as most of the other movies in the “Don’t Watch It” series, but it’s certainly in the proper ballpark.

Why don’t you two COOOOOOL it with the horrible puns?

The Review: There is no other way to say this. Batman and Robin was a colossal hunk of shit. It all starts with the jaw-droppingly bad writing. The film is riddled with one miserable unfunny pun after another, and it’s not all from Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze. “Let’s kick some ice” is a real thing that was said. Especially ridiculous were the sexual puns- “I’ll help you grab your rocks”; “She has good stems”… “Good buds too”; “My garden needs tending”; “It IS the size of your gun that counts” (followed by Bane grunting “Guuuuuun”). The screenplay might as well have been written by a 12-year old boy in the throes of puberty.

The plot and plot development were equally awful. The film has no set-up. It begins with the dynamic duo standing in the Bat Cave, finding out about a heist from Mr. Freeze, and then their respective vehicles descend from the ceiling. That’s it. That’s how Joel Schumaker decided to begin his $100 million dollar film. Throughout, the guy that the damned film is named after- you know, Batman- is nothing more than a vessel to set up a lot of obnoxious product placements and help develop all of the other characters. And even those other characters weren’t developed well. Barbara (Alicia Silverstone) gets approximately 5 minutes of screen time before she suddenly figures out her Uncle Alfred’s password (“peg”, the dumbest password in the history of movie passwords) and then she becomes Batgirl. Robin is jealous of Batman and it’s a major plot mechanism, but it’s haphazardly thrown together. You could perform this exercise with every single character.

Yes, that’s Coolio. Yes, his name has a cold/freezing/ice reference in it.

Along the way, there are a handful of cameos that give the film an absurdly dated quality. Elle McPherson is Bruce Wayne’s love interest for approximately 60 seconds of the film. Coolio makes an appearance. And Jesse Ventura shows up as a guard at Arkham Asylum. That means that Batman and Robin is one of the few films that starred as many future governors as Predator, but I digress.

There’s so much to laugh at in Batman and Robin for all the wrong reasons. It begins in the opening scene, when Robin’s bike descends and there’s a giant glowing “Robin” sign that keeps the bike in place. Does he forget who he is or something? Bane is nothing more than a grunting luchador with some neon green goo pumped into his skull. I had to laugh every time my closed captioning picked up his lines simply as “GRRRRR”. And the product placements were something you’d see spoofed in The Simpsons, not in a real movie. It’s a shame because both Clooney and Uma deserve so much better than having this on their resumé. Uma’s Mae West impersonation gets particularly old.

Seeing this film was bad enough in the 90s. Seeing it now, with the hindsight of three Christopher Nolan Batman films, makes it seem even worse. I can’t stress enough how bad this movie is. If you asked me for a short list of the worst movies ever made, Batman and Robin would be in there, probably in the top 10. It’s that epic in its shittiness. At least the Ed Wood films of the world have small budgets as an excuse.


26 Comments

Filed under Don't Watch It John!, Humor, Movies

26 responses to “Don’t Watch It, John: Batman and Robin (1997)

  1. ANOTHER Don’t Watch It article? Man, you spoil us. I love these.

    I haven’t seen Batman and Robin, though it sounds like the kind of thing I’d check out for the hell of it. The worst films I’ve ever seen are Sex and the City 2 (that’s THE worst EVER), Manos: The Hands of Fate and Fred: The Movie. I’ve also just paid money for a film called Birdemic: Shock and Terror, which I’ve yet to watch. I’m sort of digging the bad movies, though I prefer not to watch too many at once.

    • Lol..I am guessing that Sex and City 2, though not the gem of the series, is not on the worst films ever made list..although I am not surprised you hate it, because
      A: your name is Tyler so I am guessing you dont have a vagina
      B: you don’t live in the US and have our ridiculous obsession with NYC as artist mecca.
      C: you have taste in film..not clothing.
      i could give you a stream of 1990s rom com names if you love to hate bad movies :)

      • heyzeus

        My wife was a big fan of the SATC TV series and the first movie, and she found SATC 2 to be one of the most abhorrent pieces of entertainment she’s ever seen. It was actively offensive to humanity, apparently.

      • My favorite is “Love is Nice” starring Julia Roberts.

        (not a real thing, although the Simpsons used the title once to illustrate bad movie tastes)

    • August is a great time of year for ‘em because I’ve just finished 2 months of heavy French fare and it’s fun to check my brain at the door with these monstrosities.

      I really, really need to see Manos. It routinely shows up as the worst ever.

  2. Craig

    Move over Tom Hardy, that’s what Bane should be like! :)

    I jest, of course. This film is a monstrosity, particularly with the flappy Batmobile ears. Who thought that was a good idea?

    Where did she get the Batgirl outfit from? Was Robin secretly cross-dressing as a female version of his boss?

    • If I remember right, when she uses her superior intellect to crack the super secret password (“Peg”), Alfred’s video tells her he made an outfit for her. Although I like the Robin cross-dressing angle more.

  3. I didn’t like this movie back in the day but, I don’t know, I think I might actually get a kick out of it now.

    • With the right mindset, you bet. Back in the day when it was presented as high entertainment, it was doomed to disappoint. Now, it’s ripe for schaudenfreude.

    • That’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of this movie. Bat nipples. And when that’s the case, you know you’ve made a horseshit film.

  4. Awesome John, I LOVE this series! I bet even that chimp would think this is a baaaaad movie. What, I forgot Jesse Ventura is in this! As if we needed another reason why he shouldn’t have been elected as MN governor. And starring w/ the Governator, no less!!

  5. The guy who met Kevin Meany

    You really forget that the Tim Burton-directed Batman movies were visually stunning movies with a good story. Then, Joel Schumaker took over the franchise and ruined the genre for a good five years until Spiderman came out. There are very few Genre Killer movies out there. This was one of them. The genre came back in a big way, but this movie was the equivalent of the NCAA sanctions agains Penn State football.

    • This one made me want to re-watch the Jim Carrey/Tommy Lee Jones one and see if it was this bad. I don’t remember it that way- I remember it as mediocre, more of a D+ kind of film, whereas this one is straight F.

      I guess Schumaker would be Sandusky and Clooney is Paterno?

      • The guy who met Kevin Meany

        The Riddler/Two Face Schumaker Batman movie wasn’t the steaming pile that Batnipples and Nambla Boy was; however it was a little more colorful and cartoony than the Burton-directed ones were and served as the gateway between pretty good and terrible.

  6. I love these posts. And I hate Batman and Robin. In my Top 5 Worst Comic Book Movies. Good job!

  7. I’ve gotta see this. Sounds like a great movie to see with friends and plenty of booze on hand.

  8. nimorphi

    So when I was 12 I saw this in the theater and LOVED IT!!!!! I didn’t see it again until after The Dark Knight came out and by comparison it was a huge piece of shit. It was as if I had blinders removed and saw the world as it was for the first time. The thing I remember the most (aside from shitty acting and ice/freeze puns) is all the cod piece and ass shots of Batman and Robin.

    • Haha… cod pieces and ass shots. So funny, and true.

      My friend said the same thing when I told him I’d rewatched it. “I loved that movie when I was 16″.

  9. Pingback: Don’t Watch It, John: Cannibal Campout (1988) |

  10. Pingback: FilmVerse Summer ’12 Theatre of Shame – Finalists « FilmVerse

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