I can just picture the DC higher ups came up with Batman and Harley Quinn. They saw that fans hated Suicide Squad but the film had one shining light: Harley Quinn. Fans just loved the crazy and kooky second banana of the Joker. They loved her look. They loved her personality. So why not capitalize on that and just make more Harley Quinn movies? And they did just that! Does that mean it’s going to be any good? Well…
Look, I’m not going to say this didn’t have promise. It actually has a lot going for it on paper. It takes place within the Batman: The Animated Series with Kevin Conroy and Loren Lester returning to their iconic roles as Batman and Nightwing from the show. It’s also written by Bruce Timm, the very person behind the entire Batman: TAS as well as the very person who created Harley Quinn. What could go wrong?
A whole lot, apparently. That’s because Batman and Harley Quinn is terrible.
That statement above pretty much covers my feelings for this direct-to-video abomination, but I’ll go into a little more detail before. I will have to warn you that I will be giving some MINOR SPOILERS just to get my point across as to why this movie just isn’t all that good.
The story of Batman and Harley Quinn has Poison Ivy and The Floronic Man teaming up to turn the entire world’s population into plant life. Batman and Nightwing then have to enlist the help of a supposedly reformed Harley Quinn to help track down Poison Ivy and prevent this from happening. Well, that’s the basic plot that DC would want you to believe. However, that’s not the entire story. The plot is just an excuse so that Harley Quinn can tag along with Batman and Nightwing on this silly adventure and to give her as much screentime as possible.
In fact, much of the film’s short 74 minute runtime seems to be devoted to just having Harley Quinn do stuff that’s totally unrelated to the plot, which does fit the character. After all, Harley Quinn isn’t totally all right in the head. However, I’m kind of miffed that Nightwing and especially Batman are okay with this as both of them actually go along for the ride! The worst thing about them is how they just feel like filler. It’s like Bruce Timm finished the script and then realized he only had 30 minute of material so he had to add it a lot of additional crap to beef up the movie. I mean, they have a full minute dedicated to Harley farting in the Batmobile!
Like Harley Quinn, the overall tone of the film is erratic. It never settles down on any particular tone. At times, there are some serious moments but then veers into slapstick and humor the next. Batman and Nightwing also don’t seem to behave the way you would expect them to. I especially don’t agree with how Nightwing was portrayed here as he walks the line between a serious fighter and a buffoon who’s lovestruck with Harley’s charms. Even Batman isn’t immune to this as, while he doesn’t want any of the Justice League to help out with the case, he’s totally okay with going to a swamp with an army of soldiers who he knows doesn’t stand a chance against the duo of Floronic Man and Poison Ivy who will have total control of the plant life in that swamp.
I also have to address the elephant in the room which is the Nightwing and Harley Quinn sex scene. It’s like DC and Bruce Timm didn’t learn their lesson with The Killing Joke because they just had a sex scene in here as well! I’m not saying that sex scenes have no place in animated features but this sex scene felt gratuitous and, well, filler. It felt totally necessary. This is a shame because the dialogue in that scene actually shows what a hard life Harley has had ever since going straight because no one takes her seriously and because of her past criminal life.
The action isn’t anything to write home about. Strangely enough, the best fight scene in Batman and Harley Quinn was at the start where Nightwing takes on Harley. That scene where Harley chases someone on the rooftops of Gotham was also pretty cool. These were fun to watch because they used a lot of dynamic angles and they generally looked thrilling. The rest of them were just boring. I was especially disappointed by the final fight between Batman and Nightwing against the Floronic Man. The action was just so-so there when it should have been a long dragged out battle. It certainly didn’t help that most of the animation looked cheap and rushed.
Most of the voice acting does land alright. Kevin Conroy and Loren Lester return to their iconic roles as Batman and Nightwing without a hitch and they make the most of the lines that they got. Paget Brewster and Kevin Michael Richardson were perfectly cast as Poison Ivy and The Floronic Man. The strange thing is that the weakest vocal performance comes from Harley Quinn herself. Melissa Rauch just gives off a rather uneven performance as Harley Quinn. There are times when she would perfectly encapsulate the way Harley Quinn talked in original show. However, sometimes even in the same scene, where it’s kind of obvious that Melissa Rauch is just reading lines off a script that’s laid out in front of her. And her singing voice? Yeech!
I will also give credit where credit is due. I actually thought Bruce Timm penned in a creative way for Harley Quinn to stop Poison Ivy as it tapped into the friendship they developed during The Animated Series. The gag where Batman and Nightwing called the Justice League Watchtower for available backup did make me smirk. And, God help me, I loved the song the Two Face henchmen performed as it was a really smooth number. I didn’t mind that it was just pure filler but, man, their voices were smooth!
However, these bright spots are just so few and far between. Batman and Harley Quinn just felt like a bust and it felt like DC wanted to capitalize on Harley Quinn fever. They just wanted to rush out something that had Harley Quinn in it in the hopes of people buying it because it had her in it. What makes it doubly disappointing is that Bruce Timm wrote it. I have a lot of respect for the man as he was the main man behind the brilliant DC Animated Universe that featured Batman: The Animated Series, Superman and the Justice League cartoons. There was a lot of love and effort put into those endeavors but none of it was put into this direct-to-video shameless cash in.
To be perfectly frank, Batman and Harley Quinn is a big middle finger to, not only the character and the series, but to anyone who likes a good time.
What did you think of Batman and Harley Quinn? Let me know in the comments section below!