Batman Returns (2012) – Tim Burton (Dir.), Michael Keaton, Christopher Walken, Michelle Pfeiffer, Danny DeVito

It’s a totem pole of emotional disorders!

The date was set. The players had returned. We converged, a rag-tag bunch of sarcastic assholes ready to ridicule, jeer and jest once more, all the while bleeding our useless opinions across the the Twitter-scape. And, much like any Hollywood sequel, it was surprisingly difficult to coax the original cast members back. Kevin (The Giggle) got stuck on a bus. Ryan (The Dragon) had to very un-dragonly wake up at 6am. Meg (The I-Don’t-Give-A-Fuck) didn’t really, well, give a fuck and Huntsberger (Poop in a Vault) was ‘busy’. However, with coaxing, promises of sexual favors (regular roommate stuff), the stage was ready. The double-sided DVD was in the player and two bottles of white were ready for consumption.

Let me preface (as I am like to do): I had only seen Batman Returns once back when I was about 12. It scared the shit out of me. Specifically the part when the Penguin is eating raw fish and bites a dude on the nose. So, like a claustrophobe clambering into an elevator with a bunch of fat people, I charged back into the fray ready to take it on. Firstly, this movie is fucking AMAZING. I was all ready to go with all these goofy jokes about the early nineties, seeing as the first movie was a bunch of steaming 80s-Prince-infused mess. I came up almost entirely short. Apparently, between the two films, Burton descended back into his cave to gestate, emerging a fully grown goth-butterfly. This movie is a Burton film to the extreme. Soap-Operatic Danny Elfman score? Check. Insane art direction that makes no logical sense but is pretty as that girl who always serves you coffee and you’re pretty sure you’re in love but she probably isn’t into it? Double check. Dreariness that makes its way into your very soul? Triple check. Paul Reubens? Um…well, a little bit. Just enough, I feel.

PLOT SUMMARY! So, there’s this guy. He looks like Albert Einstein and he talks like he is constantly having a stroke. Turns out, it’s Chris Walken, settings up to UBER-WALKEN (a notch above Super-Walken and a notch below SUPREME-BEING-WALKEN. I’m still waiting for that last one to occur. I believe it’s the third sign of Ragnorok). He’s a douchebag business man? I guess? Doesn’t matter. Well, he decides to adopt crime king, orphan and Humpty-Dumpty impersonator Oswald Cobblepot and help him become mayor of Gotham. In doing so, he pushes Michelle Pfeiffer out a window. By the magical power of cats having sex on her, Pfeiffer comes back from the dead, shifting her sexy settings from Vespa (fun to ride but you don’t want your friends to see you on one) up to “Um, I have to change my pants”. Stuff blows up. Pfeiffer whips things (whips them good). Circus performers murder people. Danny DeVito BITES SOMEONE IN THE FUCKING NOSE. Oh. And Batman is in it too. A little bit.

“Just the pussy I’ve been looking for” ~ The Penguin making everyone feel uncomfortable.

So…this movie is hilarious. Every single line that escapes Pfeiffer’s amazing and man-making lips after she goes from World’s-Greatest-Twilight-Fan to Please-Murder-Me-With-Sex is a one-liner. And she delivers every single one perfectly. This movie is made of goof. Macabre, well-designed goof. But seriously, when have you ever seen a giant present explode and homicidal stilt-walkers attack a city? Or when the Penguin murders the fat clown? This thing as more goof than a fucking Disney-Dog convention. However, in no way is it a bad thing. While the first was confused with it’s cutaways to Nicholson doing unspeakable acts all the while looking like he wants to urinate on your face for sexual purposes while listening to Prince, this had a beautifully aligned aesthetic. It’s fucking crazy. But it’s ALL fucking crazy. Nothing in it dares take a walk on the wild side into ‘sanity’. Nope, pure, uncut, Columbian bat-shitness all the way through. You think, this can’t be as insane as it seems all the way through, and yet, frame after frame, its coated in a thick layer of delicious bat guano. Do not get me wrong. It’s AMAZING. I genuinely laughed out loud multiple times at actual jokes. Burton made funnies! Like when a random woman says of the Penguin, “He’s like a frog who grew into a prince!” and another dude says, “No, he’s more like a Penguin.” That amused me.

Time for the bad. Throughout the film, with Walken declaring that he’ll push Pfeiffer out of a higher window and Devito looking like he fellated Papa Smurf, I figured out what the issue with Burton’s two movies is: Batman. He doesn’t do anything. Ever. He’s barely in either movie. And, when he is, either he’s entirely nonchalant or he’s MERCILESSLY MURDERING PEOPLE. There is a scene near the beginning of the film where he incinerates a human being. And later, he comes up against a big dude who he can’t hope to take down because, let’s be honest, my 110 lb sister could give Keaton a run for his money. Batman forces a bomb into the guy’s pants and kicks him into a hole where he explodes. Correct me if I’m wrong…but isn’t the point of Batman that he doesn’t kill people? Yet, scene after scene he’s throwing acid at women, running baddies down, kicking them off of buildings and all the rest of it. After a while I just closed my eyes and hoped it would stop. Mommy, make it stop.

I think Devito should try the ‘Flattering Onesie’ look more often. It really brings out his munchkin-ness.

Also, at the beginning of the film, we see Wayne sitting around staring off into space (brooding…I guess? Or just really lonely and sad that the other multi-billionaires didn’t invite him out to play?) and the bat signal comes up. Three, not just one, but THREE fucking bat signal reflectors shift the symbol into his sitting room. Firstly…how does it know where he is in the house? Secondly, isn’t it a ‘secret’ identity? Who comes to Wayne manor, sees the massive Bat-Encrusted signal reflectors and thinks “Hmm. Totally not Batman. It’s just TOO obvious.”

Honestly, though, this has got to be my favorite movie in the Batman canon after The Dark Knight. I won’t call it a Batman movie because the guy isn’t even fucking in it. And he wears an ascot. That alone took my rage sparked by his foray into turtleneck apparel in the first movie and shifted it into the realm of Russell-Crowe-With-A-Phone-In-Hand. However, Devito as a human bowling ball, Walken being a tasty helping of terrifyingly unhinged and Michelle Pfeiffer doing anything at all (those cheekbones could cut diamond. Or my heart… NO Andrew! Don’t fall for Catwoman. She’ll only urinate on you, demand things that you can’t give and hate you for no other reason than the fact that she thinks she’s a cat. Also, there’s no knowing if during sex she won’t suddenly decide that she wants to bite your face off. Fucking cats.) they all come together to make one hell of an entertaining movie. Logic be damned. This was Burton at his best, crafting beauty from his dark-as-dirt imagination, transmuting the horrifying aspects of fringe geek culture into something palatable for the masses. What do we have? A tasty morsel of nightmare, coated in delectable sugar.

Oh Burton. What happened to you? You were so good. Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood are modern-day classics, unparalleled in their use of costume and set design, perfectly crafted to both undercut and stimulate our imaginations. But…sometimes you just need to lay your flowers at the base of the artistic grave of a great, let him go, allow him to rest, even as his reanimated corpse stumbles around Hollywood sinking his teeth into long-dead franchises, hoping to bring them back into life. Yet, as these cinematic abominations lumber across the silver screen summer after summer, we see they are all pale, pallid forms of their former selves, brainless and hungry for yours. The Burton we love is dead. We should just cock our sawn-off shotgun and blow his brains out before he can infect more. It’s what’s best.

*Wipe away tear. Apologize. Pull the trigger.*

The one and only time in Walken’s life where he seems not-insane by comparison.

And now…more tweets!

Oh my god! Pee Wee! Seeing him makes me want to touch myself in public places. #batathon

And so Tim Burton has found his creative penis and he will wave it in your faces, whether you like it or not. #batathon

Who let Alfred out of the house? And who the fuck is he buying presents for? He has no friends. #batathon

Why is Michelle Pfeiffer calling herself a corn dog? Is this going to turn into a porno? #batathon

Walken is the only man who can make unconditional love sound like a watch that’s been up his ass for years. #batathon

“What’s in these presents?” “Oh no it’s herpes!” ~ Huntsberger #batathon

Do you think the penguin put an ad in craigslist for murderous circus performers? #batathon

“I knew those stilt-trippers were a worthy addition to the bat mobile.” ~ Batman, proud of himself. #batathon

Who the fuck is the Penguin’s tailor? Jeffrey Dahmer? #batathon

I think Danny Devito ate the Ninja Turtles. #batathon

Michelle Pfeiffer said ‘bone’. Giggle. #batathon

“How industrious.” ~ Walken. “Baubles.” ~ Walken. No joke. Just truth. #batathon


There’s one thing cats love, that’s a fresh corpse. #batathon

“Helena Bonham Carter as ALL THE CATS” ~ Huntsberger.

Milk was a bad choice. I mean a great choice. Fuck you all. ~ Catwoman. #batathon

“Rediscover your roots. Lavar Burton. Good friend. Black people. What was I talking about?” ~ Walken. Adlibbing. #batathon

‘Walken adlibbing’ is redundant. #batathon

“When you abandon your child you don’t want to leave a tag with your name on it. It might come back. That kinda misses the point.”#batathon

“Michael Keaton is a small dude. I don’t think he’s a poon dragon at all!” ~ Ryan. #batathon

“I’ll drop her out a higher window” *bow tie fix* YEEEEEAAAAAHHHH. Chris Walken invented David Caruso.#batathon

“Here comes the dirty onesie! Look for the stains!” ~ Kevin.#batathon

That raw fish made me nauseous for the entirety of the 90s.#batathon

NOSE BITE! Rahm Emmanuel does that like twice a day. Get over it.#batathon

Catwoman, backflips aren’t the only way to travel. #batathon

“I brought my pussy, Miss Kitty. Also, my cat, Englebert.”  ~ Catwoman #choices‪ #batathon

“He looks like a fucking Gringott’s goblin. And we KNOW they’re jews.” #batathon

“That bitch knows why the caged bird sings.” Catwoman played by Maya Angelou. #batathon

“He knocked me off a building right when I was feeling good about myself.” #deargodcatwoman #batathon

ANOTHER ASCOT? AND EATING A CARROT???? Batman what have you become? #batathon

Selena looks like she came out the wrong end of Busey Coke Party.#batathon

“That’s not true!” We’re apparently watching Batman Retorts.#batathon

Apparently if your rewire a dildo to an RC control, you can take down the bat mobile defenses. ~ Kevin. #batathon

“Literally, people throw fruit at him. It’s that kinda movie.”~Huntsberger #batathon

Instrumental Superfreak? Did Donald Trump plan this fucking dance? #batathon

“That is the laugh of cocaine.” ~ Meg #batathon

Kids, this is what happens when you eat black licorice. You become Danny Devito. But fatter. #batathon

Dead fat clown. The gift that keeps on giving. #batathon

Now Batman is wearing a RUBBER TURTLENECK. I’m done. I’m just done. #batathon

Only Walken’s third most awkward kiss, after Sleepy Hollow and his the one he gives your mother every night. #batathon

Well, that’s all for now folks. Like a schoolboy who has just discovered that having an older girlfriend means unlimited sex, we’ll be back for round 3 on Sunday. Next time we’ll be playing the Adam West Batman: The Movie drinking game. One rule: Drink every time it’s the 60s. Watch me document my death from alcohol poisoning on Twitter! 9pm CST.

  1. “By the magical power of cats having sex on her, Pfeiffer comes back from the dead…” BAHAHAHA!!! That made my day, for realsies.

    I never realized it before but you’re right, Batman is the weakest character in Burton’s flicks. He should only write villains.

    Great review!

    • Thank you kindly, Miss Nikki. It was one of those things when people mentioned “isn’t Batman in this movie?” And the answer is: not really. Not really in either of them. We’ll see how it plays out in the next two…

  2. G says:

    Burton himself has said that Catwoman wasn’t meant to be supernatural but ambiguous and have that whole 9 lives vibe and motif going on. When she is pushed out the window (a brilliant scene “actually, it’s a lot like that!”) she hits at least 2 awnings and falls into a mount of snow. And she only falls about 6 stories (Jackie Chan did a similar stunt for real in Project A). After this she has a pyschotic break and develops a new personality not bound by morals or society. A force of nature. The cats wander around her as they live in the alley and are suspicious and hungry. The backflipping and martial arts skilled are explained in an earlier draft when she tells Bruce about how she was a gymnastics champion as a kid and took many self defence classes but her teacher told her she wasn’t any good as her mind wasn’t clear. She replies that it’s clear now.

    But a great review, I enjoyed the read.

  3. Guy C. Faulkner says:

    It’s sawed off shotgun….Woman.

  4. I watched this non-stop when I was little. I like the penguins with rockets. Haha!

  5. Returns is such a great film. The Penguins look in that film really messed with me when i was younger, he was just so freaky and a total Burton style creation that it was both gothic and perfect at the same time.

    No love for the great Christopher Walken in this flick either, he really goes unnoticed for some of his most hilarious lines.

  6. Chester Marcoguisepp says:

    All of the works of Tim Burton can be considered as a work of art. He has his own style that is very unique and cannot be found from other movie directors.”;.’,

    Yours trully“>

  7. […] BAT-A-THON: Batman Returns (1992) – Tim Burton […]

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