A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that these episodes provide lots of action, plus a surprisingly mature swipe at the snobbery of high society, and a heroic portrait of a corporate whistle-blower. But because of its cartoonish violence and mayhem, this video is questionable for children under 8. Older children will better comprehend the stories, and will be better able to deal with the sometimes nasty violence. Teens and adults will appreciate the clever dialogue and in-jokes.
What's the story?
Two episodes comprise THE ADVENTURES OF BATMAN AND ROBIN: THE PENGUIN. "Birds of a Feather" follows Oswald Cobblepot, aka the Penguin (voiced by Paul Williams), as he vows to go straight. Cobblepot is invited to a high society party by status-conscious Veronica Vreeland (Marilu Henner). At the party he discovers that she invited him merely for publicity's sake. He abducts her and holds her in an opera house. Batman liberates her, and captures the Penguin. In "The Mechanic," the Penguin discovers the identity of Batman's mechanic. Earl Cooper (Paul Winfield) was helped by Batman after he was kicked out of the corporate world for exposing faulty engineering on a best-selling line of cars. The Penguin forces Earl to sabotage the Batmobile, but certain fail-safe devices that Earl has installed enable the Caped Crusader to emerge victorious.
Is it any good?
Blessed with uncommonly intelligent scripting for a superhero cartoon, the Adventures series continues with this double-dose of the Penguin. Unlike most TV series based on comic books, the 1990s animated incarnation of Batman stuck close to its source material, harkening back to Bob Kane's original depiction of Batman's supervillains as absurd-yet-lethal. In the first episode the Penguin remains his psychotic self throughout, but Veronica's cruelty causes the viewer to sympathize with him. He may be an inveterate thief but his lapses in taste and virtue pale beside Veronica's snobby friend who declares that the supervillain is a must-have guest but "NOKD." ("Not our kind, dear.")
Both shows benefit by their superb voice cast. Singer-songwriter Paul Williams does a terrific job as the Penguin. Paul Winfield lends a dignified tone to Earl, making the character far more than a mere consort to a superhero. The animators include several in-jokes in these episodes, including a "cameo" by a character from the cult indie comic "Love and Rockets," and Batman's license plate, which bears the inscription "the Dark Deco State" ("Dark Deco" being the name given to the show's distinctive noirish animation).
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