Michael Keaton is a delightful actor. I’ve seen his breakout film Night Shift, which was also a breakout film for Ron Howard as a director. It’s…pretty good. It doesn’t hold up entirely, but it has quite the case. That includes fast-talking young man named Michael Keaton who was bursting with energy. He made Beetlejuice work. Then, of course, he became Batman and was a star. Like many actors, he had a lull, but in recent years he’s had a comeback which I really appreciate. This is especially true of his turn in Spider-ma: Homecoming. He even made me think I liked Birdman for a while!
‘Tis the season to write about Keaton because of his tie to two holiday films. That’s doubly true because they represent two distinct times of his career: When he was at his peak, and when he was at his nadir.
Now, Batman Returns is not the peak of Keaton’s career in terms of quality. It’s a good movie, but what it really represents is Keaton when he was the biggest star of the world. Bear in mind that the first Batman, when Keaton was a surprise choice for the Caped Crusader that got a lot of guff in a pre-internet world, was a huge hit that brought in the era of the superhero movie. It was a massive blockbuster, and Keaton became a massive star. Naturally, the sequel was hotly anticipated, and Keaton was never bigger as a presence in the film.
That being said, Batman Returns is weirdly barely a Batman movie. Sure, Batman does, in fact, return, but Burton seems more interested in Penguin and Catwoman, maybe because they are played by Danny DeVito and Michelle Pfeiffer. Also, imagine if they swapped roles. That would have been freaky. I’d still like to see it happen.
For some reason, the movie is set around Christmas, which makes it a Christmas movie in that roundabout way. Keaton is good in it, but it was the crest of his wave. Batman Returns came out in 1992. In 1998, just six years later, Keaton was starring in Jack Frost.
This film is a pure nightmare. Keaton plays a dad who dies in a car accident and comes back as a snowman and then has to try and reconnect with his son. It’s an insane movie, and special effects were not up to the task. Jack Frost is a disaster, but a fascinating one. It’s the kind of movie that ends up on “so bad it’s good” lists. Poor Keaton spends most of the movie voicing a talking snowman, with all the fear of melting that entails. Also, the film has the line “Snow dad is better than no dad” in it.
It’s usually a good idea to watch a movie with Michael Keaton in it. However, you want to be careful about it. Around the holidays, you should definitely go with “Batman Returns” and not “Jack Frost.” Unless, of course, you want to gawk at an incredible cinematic misstep. Hey, celebrity the season in your own way.