Batman has largely been the DC franchise that never suffered from an identity crisis. Batman Beyond didn’t try to be the 1989 Batman movie. The Dark Knight wasn’t Batman the Animated Series. Batman and Harley Quinn largely fails because it attempts to be a Batman hybrid with something for everyone.
Batman and Nightwing learn Floronic Man and Poison Ivy have teamed up and need Harley’s help in tracking them. That’s an incredibly forced premise right away. The World’s Greatest Detective needing extra help to locate criminals?
Screenwriters Bruce Timm and James Krieg hardly create the deepest plot here and it just plays out like a cheap way to align Batman and Harley.
Harley Quinn has overtaken Catwoman as the most popular/overexposed anti-hero in the Batman universe. As her popularity has soared, so has her presence throughout DC culminating in the Suicide Squad movie.
The thing is Harley is obnoxious. She’s a brilliant character in small doses, but front and center in the spotlight, Harley quickly becomes annoying. She’s like that hyperactive child that never gets enough attention.
Easily the best part of Batman and Harley Quinn is the addition of a fresh villain in The Floronic Man (Kevin Michael Richardson). He hasn’t been a fixture on TV series or movies and is a welcome fresh face.
Another annoying trend continues with random romantic pairings. First Batman and Batgirl in The Killing Joke and now Nightwing and Harley? This one feels even more unnecessary as both go back to acting like teenagers afterwards.
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Batman and Harley Quinn’s overall tone feels off with this weird mix of goofy, silly sequences and very mature adult themes. Harley telling Nightwing she’ll call him if she runs out of batteries isn’t exactly family friendly. That definitely doesn’t vibe with the classic all ages Animated Series style animation either.
But Harley farting in the Batmobile with Nightwing begging Batman to open the window is too stupid for adult viewers.
Then there’s actual fight sound effects straight from the 1966 series. It’s like Timm and Krieg wanted to explore various aspects of the Batman mythos with little regard to how much sense it made.
Maybe the worst sequence is the extended singing number by the Trigger Twins and Harley Quinn that goes from silly to embarrassing. It’s just time that’s frustrating to not get back.
Kevin Conroy does his best to bring some measure of credibility to the film, but the material doesn’t do him many favors. Longtime Nightwing voice actor Loren Lester reprises his role and is solid. Pager Brewster delivers a strong performance as Poison Ivy.
Melissa Rauch injects a bit more New York accent, which is fitting since Gotham is the DCU equivalent to New York. Only problem is she makes Harley sound more like Cyndi Lauper. Arleen Sorkin is sorely missed as Harley’s voice actress, but she probably read the script.
The action is decent save the silly slow motion fight with Ivy and Harley. And that just gives way to a silly resolution that seems more than a little sexist. The film wraps on a weird note that renders the entire conflict unnecessary. If there was such a simple solution to deal with the bad guys why does Batman or Harley let so much death and destruction occur before using it?
Batman and Harley Quinn is a rare misfire for Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. They don’t come around too often, but when it does it’s a big disappointment. This is only for the hardcore Harley Quinn fans.
Rating: 3 out of 10
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Disclosure: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided a Blu-Ray copy of this movie for review purposes.