Batman and Harley Quinn (2017)
Teleplay by Bruce Timm & Jim Krieg
Story by Bruce Timm
Based on characters appearing in DC Comics
Directed by Sam Liu
As a father, as a fan of DC Comics, and as a reviewer, I am officially done with the DC Animated Universe.
To say that Batman and Harley Quinn is unsatisfying is to minimize the damage done to the legacy of Batman: The Animated Series. To say that Bruce Timm has a swing and a miss on his hands would be putting lipstick on a pig. You would think they’d have learned from the PR disaster that was The Killing Joke, but no…
Kevin Conroy and Loren Lester return as Batman and Nightwing, but it just feels like they’re phoning it in. Melissa Rauch is so terribly mis-cast as Harley, and not because of the Brooklyn/Bronx whatever she’s doing with her voice. The trick to Harley is that she’s iron inside a silk glove. Rauch delivers the edge of the iron, but misses the mark when Harley’s being anything other than angry.
Andrea Romano’s retirement will have an impact for decades, I think…
To be honest, at the first use of Jesus as an expletive (by Sarge Steel), I was ready to shut it off. The story is all over the place, and it just got worse the longer I watched. By the time Harley essentially rapes Nightwing (apparently you can’t have Harley in a cartoon without sex), I was completely done. I watched the whole thing, but by the end I was flabbergasted that this mess was even made. And by Bruce Timm, no less.
Kevin Michael Richardson and Paget Brewster do passably well as Floronic Man and Poison Ivy, respectively, but Ivy is missing any of her charm, and I get no sense of an actual threat from Floronic Man (remember when he was Plant Master and swapped bodies with Wonder Woman?). His plan to use Dr. Alec Holland’s formula to turn all of mankind into plant-human hybrids (like Swamp Thing) has all the earmarks of a terrible fate for Earth, but the comedy of the film — wait… the attempted comedy — leaves the threat to humanity nothing more than another “oh, he’s twirling his mustache again” feeling.
The animation also feels off, like the original BTAS was used as a reference, but played back through water. The movement is stilted and jerky, like there are frames missing. The only really good part of this whole production is the music by Michael McCuistion, Kristopher Carter, and Lolita Ritmanis (full disclosure: I went to college with Kris, and I’ve never been disappointed by his work). I put that in bold because I don’t want you to miss the one really nice thing I had to say about this film.
Out of respect for those who want to watch this raw and un-warned, I won’t get into spoilers. But for those of you who really, truly, absolutely will watch this movie for the nostalgia, you’re likely to be disappointed. It’s like watching the big-screen remakes of Starsky & Hutch or The Dukes of Hazzard (or CHiPs, I guess… I didn’t watch it): the elements are there, but the people putting together the film completely miss what made the original so great.
Which bugs me no end, because Bruce Timm should know better. This is now strike two.
Also: it’s not something you can watch with your kids. Let me repeat that: it’s not something you can watch with your kids.
This may look like BTAS, but it is most definitely not. Sexual content aside, Harley is crude, the jokes fall flat (and could have been written by a depressed drunk Seth McFarlane), and there is some definite objectification of the good Dr. Quinzel. Although there is one scene that almost works to make her such a sympathetic character you want to take her into your home, but ultimately even that falls just short.
And don’t get me started on the karaoke bar…
I remember a time when I could watch animated features with my son. But when he picked up the box and saw “sexual content” in the rating mark, even he looked sideways at it and took a pass. He’s smart that way.
You should be, too.