In Not Guilty, we look at movies that the general consensus tells us we should feel bad for liking, but that our hearts tell us we should embrace — "guilty pleasures" we don't feel guilty about. This time we take on Joel Schumacher's inaugural foray into the Batman film series.
Batman Forever is many things. Neon nightmare. Nonsense orgy. Jim Carrey's masturbatory one-man facial-contortiopallooza. If not for Batman and Robin, it would be considered the worst Batman film. But is that a fair estimation?
I mean, you already know what this post is about, so it's not exactly a spoiler for me to tell you no, my friends; no, it is not. And yet, it is still all of those things.
In fact, I'll take my hot take one step further: Batman Forever in some ways actually succeeds more than Tim Burton's films. Schumacher's films, however clumsily and phallically, were the better follow-up to the '60s TV show, combining silliness and earnestness with a big budget and what I can only assume is a partnership with the Black Light Foundation for Fancy Man Gangs.
It also succeeds in glorious, hypercolor homoeroticism.
For starters, we have the introduction of our Boy Wonder. You know. Dick. And the two are immediately that kind of sassy-agro mix that can only mean things are about to get sexylicious.
A bit more subtle, which in this movie is the difference between having your teeth knocked out by a giant clown mallet and just a regular mallet, is the plot point that Edward Nygma is clearly in love with Bruce Wayne, even going full Single White Female at a gala event.
Of course that's just Nygma as himself. As the Riddler, Eddie is a messy bitch who loves drama.
In fact, so deeply steeped in gay subtext is this film that it has zero idea how to portray heterosexuality. Every woman in the movie exists as either hero or villain arm candy and speaks in pure smolder, like they overdosed on Mae West. This is Nicole Kidman's first line upon meeting Batman:And it pretty much just dials up from there. At least it distracts from her accent, though. Bless her, she hadn't quite mastered that yet.
But it's not like ol' Brucie does much better in terms of the pickup game.
And that's not even the worst of it.
What's the opposite of sticking the landing? Is it going through the floor and literally becoming the mat? Because that's what this is. No one likes the circus. The Grayson family falling to their deaths is, like, only one of the top five awful things that happen at the circus.
In fact, let's talk about that circus. We meet the Grayson family and their very prominent crotches.
And then Two Face appears, demanding that Batman present himself. Bruce literally yells, "I'M BATMAN" then runs down and starts beating up bad guys, and his identity is still somehow a huge mystery.
Even Tony Stark is like, "Dude. Do less." Anyway, then the Graysons fall down, go boom and they all die instantly, which doesn't make a lot of sense because you'd think at least one of them would have survived, albeit with some busted bones. They're athletes. Fancy athletes, but athletes.
Anyway, other stuff happens. Tommy Lee Jones eats so much scenery that they presumably had to make dozens of adjustments to his costume to allow for the increase in girth. Jim Carrey shows up and does Jim Carrey things but also gives us a hint of the Serious Actor James Carrey that would come later.
That said, it's mostly a lot of this:
But oddly, he and the rest of the cast all escape with their dignity intact. Every single person seems to know exactly what movie this is and performs accordingly - including and perhaps especially Ed Begley, Jr.
As well as character actor Joe Grifasi who deserved six Oscars and a Tony for this line alone:
And, of course, Debi Mazar and Drew Barrymore at a very strange time in her life.
Batman and Robin took a lot of flack for Batnipples, but never forget that its predecessor gave us this: Batbuns. This is a real, unedited clip from the movie.
And it's not just dat bat butt. Robin and his fellow Flying Graysons attempt to save the day through trapeze artistry - and also buttcheeks.
Sure, Batman Forever is a big shiny sh*tshow but it's our big shiny sh*tshow. And for that, I love it.