They say in making a movie or play, casting is 90% of the job. Having been in theatre on both sides of the stage for the majority of my life I can tell you…that number is grossly underestimated. The right cast can make mountains out of molehills, and the inverse is, sadly and surely, true as well.
However, so often we just blame the flick itself. We throw rotten fruits at the director, the script, the editor, anyone and anything but the people parrots onscreen repeating what’s on the page. And while for the most part that’s a fair criticism, what if the problem with the worst movie you can think of isn’t what was said, but how. Remember, Hey Jude sounds like crap if it’s sung off key.
So, today, I’m going to attempt an experiment. I’m going to take the most panned, most despised film in perhaps all of geek culture and see if I can eek out a movie masterpiece from some heavy duty cinema shit.
Here are the rules: assume everything else stays the same, barring the cast. Therefore, same script, same director, same costumer, etc. All that changes are the names in the opening credits and the faces within.
Life is for the living, and so I’m diving right into the deep end. Today through recasting I will fix…
Batman and Robin.
Holy rusted metal, Batman, wish me luck.
NOW PLAYED BY: PAUL RUDD
Consider this our getting used to the temperature of the water selection. Batman and Robin was obviously pretty inspired by the 1960s Batman tv show. Camp was the name of that game, and our Caped Crusader needed to be both charming and comical to succesfully walk the very thin line between action and absurdity. Thankfully, that show had the incomprable Adam West, whose leading man ability was only matched by his split second precise comedic timing.
If that ain’t Paul Rudd, what is? From Achorman and the Apatow films we know he’s got comedic chops to be admired, but don’t think the guy’s just a yuk-yukker. Before being known as a king of Hollywood hilarity, he had an impressive acting career working with the likes of Neil LaBute, Baz Luhrmann, and all over the wide and weird world of theatre. The guy can act, he just chooses to act more silly these days.
George Clooney certainly has a devilish charm to him, but that wasn’t what Batman and Robin needed. B&R needed more self-awareness, more accepting what it was, more people being in on the joke. Clooney isn’t that type of actor. Paul Rudd, on the other hand, knows when to play for laughs, and, more importantly, how. He’s a handsome fella, too, and for Bruce Wayne that always helps.
In this shameless world of countless remakes and re-imagining, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before someone attempts a 60s Batman remake of some type. If they don’t cast Mr. Rudd, then they’re missing out on the ideal leading man to sell us on the concept of Bat-shark repellent. Until then, we’ll make use of him here convincing us that, of course, Batman carries a credit card. Forever.
And besides, who would you rather play? Ant-Man or the Bat? Uh-huh.
NOW PLAYED BY: MACHO MAN RANDY SAVAGE
Okay, now we’ve definitely punched a one-way ticket to Sillyville, but hear me out.
B&R was a big, ridiculous, over-the-top, neon-colored circus with nipples. It had larger than life figures doing battle spouting off more one-liners than a Marx Brothers marathon. The costumes were flashy, the fights campy, and the melodrama thick as peanut butter.
How could a professional wrestler not feel right at home?
Again, B&R needs a bit of metaphysical self-awareness for it to really work, and there’s no bigger wink to the audience than having the enormous, sexual lizard that was Macho Man Randy Savage…playing a sidekick. As I just said, the similarities between pro wrestling and B&R is pretty staggering, so Macho Man shouldn’t have any trouble there. And while most (meaning all) of Chris O’Donnell’s lines in the flick were a lot like Chris O’Donnell in the flick…that is to say completely forgettable…imagine how insanely quotable they’ll become with Macho Man saying them. Granted, an Indian restaurant’s menu would become considerably more quotable were Macho Man reading it, but still.
Yeah, yeah, there is that slight problem that Macho Man is…slightly…dead…but I think the probability of him coming back to life is exponentially higher than the possibility of someone completely remaking Batman and Robin.
NOW PLAYED BY: SOFIA VERGARA
Now, now, I hear you say this is just an excuse to see Sofia Vergara in a tight, form-fitting, Batsuit and to that I say you’re completely right.
Just kiddin’. Any Modern Family fan knows Sofia’s got the comedic chops to match her killer curves, and Batgirl’s gonna need them to compete with the rest of her cast. This should prove to be a simple task for an actress who already has to stand toe-to-toe with one of the most comedically skilled ensemble casts in television history. Hell, she’s been nominated for an Emmy for being so damn funny four freaking times. The Bat-boys will have their work cut out for them and then some.
Also, while Alicia Silverstone is a fine enough actress, the first thing you think when you see her isn’t exactly ass-kicking super-heroine. Sofia carries with her a commanding presence that’s often backed up with powerful performances in her acting. Half the work for the Bat-folk is intimidation, and this Colombian dynamo’s nothing but.
And besides, it wouldn’t be B&R without an actor with an accent.
NOW PLAYED BY: SETH ROGEN
When I first conceived of this list, I was going to cast Seth as Robin and let the comedic gold that would be struck between him and Paul shine. But that’s been done to death cinematically speaking. Instead, let’s make them kill each other.
There’s really no saving Mr. Freeze. He’s responsible for the brunt of the most vile, must putrid, most unforgettable puns in the script. I won’t repeat them, you know each and every one. And while you can tell Arnold really tried, his attempt left our humor bone-cold. Or…yeah, whatever, man, cold puns are actually pretty tough.
There’s something about that Seth Rogen that works when it shouldn’t. From a cursory glance you’d never think he could be so lovable, but golly he’s like a basket of Canadian puppies once you get to know him. His gravelly, stoneresque voice isn’t anything you’d ever call soothing, but his inimitable laugh softens it all to where you only want to hear the man talk. He makes the impossible slightly more possible and with much curlier hair.
Mr. Freeze needs a miracle and this Canuck might just be it. You just know he’d have a blast camping it up in blue paint, and he’d make sure to bring us all along for the ride. He knows he’s not villain material, and that’s what’ll make it work. The Mr. Freeze in the script isn’t villain material! He’s a punderfull ball of goof. This’ll be a cake walk for Rogen.
And just imagine the outtakes.
NOW PLAYED BY: JINKX MONSOON
For those of you who aren’t fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race, you’re missing out on the funniest, most unique, and most interesting reality television competition shows out there. I DESPISE reality TV, but RDR is in a class of its own, and it looks freaking great while doing so. Go watch the first episode of any season. You’ll be hooked, baby.
A competitor in the fifth season of RDR, Jinkx Monsoon stood out by being a vivacious, hysterical, and deliciously dramatic alternative to the pageant girls and standard issue drag queen fare that composed the rest of the competition. She had the same kind of flair you would usually only find in the best of Broadway. A real Liza MANelli. She and Elaine Stritch could’ve been brunch buddies for life. She was a shining, shooting star, and she had no qualms making a big deal out of every eyelash.
Essentially, she was Poison Ivy from Batman and Robin.
The persona of Jinkx Monsoon is a slinky, sultry, musical mess, and she is just so goddamn glamorous about it all. It’s pure ham, pure camp, and everything you’ve ever loved out of every diva you’ve ever hated.
To me, Poison Ivy was the most miscast of the entire B&R cast. Don’t get me wrong, I love Uma, but this role needed someone you could see yourself being catty over cosmos over. It didn’t need a movie star, it needed a washed up starlet. It needed someone fun, not famous.
It needed, oh how it needed someone like Jinkx Monsoon.
Actually, a Batman and Robin composed entirely of drag queens would probably work best of all. A girl can dream…
NOW PLAYED BY: TOM HARDY
Because why the hell not? Just so long as he kept the voice.
Casting complete! Agree? Disagree? Quit bidding 30,000 on the lovely magnolia and let me know, Unrealtors!
Adam Esquenazi Douglas is a playwright who was born in Texas, grew up in Arkansas, was raised by a Jewish man and a Cuban woman, and, somehow, he doesn’t have an accent.
He is co-host of two podcasts, The JimmyJew Podcast Extravaganza and Schmame Over, which can be found at http://jimmyjew.libsyn.com/ and http://schmameover.libsyn.com/ respectively, as well as on iTunes. He is a contributing writer to www.GamersSchmamers.com.
He currently lives in Brooklyn where he drinks far too much coffee.