As damnedest-thing-you-ever-saw Filipino Bat-comedies go, this musical effort isn’t a patch on James Batman – but it is weirdsville. So far as I can make out (my Tagalog isn’t great), it’s not about the real Batman and Robin but two average schlubs named Bruce (Joey de Leon) and Kevin (Keempee de Leon) who make their own costumes and customise a Batmobile in reaction to a pair of flamboyant crooks (Panchito, Rene Requiestas) who decide to dress up as Penguin (or ‘chopaengin’) and Joker in order to pull off a series of robberies in which they sing new Tagalog/English lyrics to rock n roll standards (Lucille, Surfin’ Safari) accompanied by a chorus of henchpersons (including a slinky Catwoman) and victims.
Bruce is interviewed by a reporter (Dawn Zuluetas), politely offering her bat-juice or bat-coffee in his cave kitchen, and falls in love with her. A dream he has of saving her from thugs – which includes getting his ripped-off mask and her ripped-off bikini top mixed up – prompts him to give up crime-fighting, whereupon Robin is injured going solo and he returns to the fray. The baddies are caught, but escape through the jail sewer and dress up as the heroes to pull off a hold-up – only to run into some thugs with a grudge against Batman and Robin. The real fake heroes help out the baddies dressed as them, and they reform enough to take part in an energetic version of ‘At the Hop’ to indicate that they’ve reformed (‘let’s be good not bad/let’s ge afraid of God’). The reporter turns up dressed as Wonder Woman and, besides a midget Spider-Man, the dance troupe includes extras dressed as Superman, Zorro, Tarzan and other less identifiable hero characters.
Though made in the era of Tim Burton’s bat-films, the frame of reference is strictly the Adam West series – the Neal Hefti music is used, and the car, costumes and logos echo the 1960s Batmania look (no ‘Biff! Pow! Crunch!’ though). It’s painless, but the mugging gets on the nerves – especially the Joker’s shrill laugh – and any verbal subtleties are lost on me. Directed by Tony Y. Reyes.