By Jared Huizenga – Contributing Writer
For at least the last handful of years, I’ve been wondering (oftentimes out loud) just what is running through the minds of those at the helm of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU).
And I now, somewhat surprisingly, find myself questioning the work of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies – you know, those wonderful little animated movies that either go straight to DVD or video on demand or sometimes show up in theaters for a one-night only run.
Sadly, after standouts like “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox,” “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns,” “Batman: Year One,” the studio has hit a bit of a dry spell.
The latest offering is “Batman and Harley Quinn,” which releases on home video this week.
This time out, Batman and Nightwing (voiced by “Batman: The Animated Series” veterans Kevin Conroy and Loren Lester) are in pursuit of Poison Ivy (Paget Brewster) and Floronic Man (Kevin Michael Richardson), who are determined to repair the earth and punish humans for climate change by turning them all into plants.
In order to do so, however, they must enlist the help of an unexpected ally – supervillain turned regular gal, Harley Quinn (Melissa Rauch).
Long story short: “Batman and Harley Quinn” simply isn’t very good.
The story has all the depth of a puddle in the middle of a drought, which is fine … assuming the film had been geared toward children and adult enjoyment was simply icing on the cake. The sexual innuendo throughout, the occasional foul language, and adult humor would tell me, however, that children wasn’t the target demo. You can’t offer the plot of a child’s story and the temperament of a young adult/adult narrative, lest you want to disappoint everyone.
Along with the superficial story comes a light run time of 74 minutes. Again, this is fine … assuming those 74 minutes aren’t filled with extended song-and-dance numbers and karaoke (not even joking).
Given the amount of filler and fluff here, this could have easily been half the length and used as a one-off TV special.
The other source of disappointment here is Rauch’s take on Harley. I like Rauch, and enjoy “The Big Bang Theory” (don’t tell my fellow critics), so I thought her taking on one of my favorite Batman villains would be fun. You know what you get? Bernadette from Big Bang trying to sound like Harley Quinn. With Arleen Sorkin (the original voice) and Tara Strong (Arkham video game series) still around, someone with a very distinct voice for a character with a very distinct – and very different – voice seems a questionable call. At least in hindsight.
If you’re a fan of “Batman: The Animated Series,” the style of animation and the inclusion of
Conroy and Lester as the voices of the film’s heroes will probably provide some entertainment value.
But for everyone else, I’m suggesting a hard pass on this one.
★ of ★★★★★
Jared Huizenga is a freelance movie critic. Follow his work at www.facebook.com/JaredMovies.