Merry Little Batman Review: A Small Dosage of DC Holiday Spirit

Merry Little Batman (2023).

Despite its well-intentioned attempts at charm and festive merriment, Mike Roth‘s Merry Little Batman often falters under its hefty load of seasonal cloying. This direct-to-video offering finds Batman’s ward, Damian Wayne, taking up the mantel of his guardian to protect the city and his stately Wayne Manor, against the chaotic menace of several of Batman’s iconic villains during Christmas Eve. The primary voice cast comprising Yonas Kibreab, Luke Wilson, James Cromwell, and David Hornsby, although providing spirited performances, find themselves frequently upstaged by the trappings of festive themes and numerous clichés.

On a narrative level, Morgan Evans and Jase Ricci‘s screenplay dips into well-worn holiday movie tropes while wrapping them in a shiny Batman paper. Our pint-sized protagonist Damian, who’s also Robin in Batman’s crime-fighting enterprise, embraces the spirit of the festive season by donning the alter-ego of Little Batman. As Batman heads out to keep Gotham’s streets safe, Damian, home alone at Wayne Manor, needs to muster the courage and wit to thwart several notorious villains, who are eyeing a prime opportunity to loot the rich estate. It’s essentially Home Alone, only in the Batcave and laced with generous helpings of holiday cheer.

Evans and Roth’s premise proves enticing. Combining Gotham’s superhero exploits with Christmas gaiety seems promising. A touch of genuine emotion—most of which comes courtesy of the budding father-son relationship between Bruce Wayne and Damian—elevates the plot at times. It stirs genuine moments of sentimentality amidst all the heroic action. Thereby, suggesting a complexity often missing in most Christmas features.

Yonas Kibreab proves adequate in his performance as Damian. He successfully encapsulates the youngster’s verve, boyish innocence, and his commitment to preserving peace while nurturing his superheroic instincts. Luke Wilson’s take on the stoic and poised Bruce Wayne/Batman, by comparison, appears undistinguished and plain. It offers little novelty or distinctiveness in this familiar role. Cromwell’s portrayal of Alfred brings in some warmth, and David Hornsby, voicing The Joker, embraces his villainous part with gusto. However, the antagonist role, much like Batman’s part, lacks a distinct identity.

On a visual front, Merry Little Batman thrives. Mike Roth, notably experienced in the animation arena, lends his knack for dynamic storytelling to deliver impressive visuals. The battle scenes, despite their unimposing scale, offer some entertainment due to the kinetic, cartoonish flair infused in the execution. Wayne Manor’s grand architecture is aesthetically juxtaposed against the vivid yuletide decorations and snowy backdrop. This creates an environment teeming with festive allure.

While Merry Little Batman scores sometimes, such as delivering emotionally resonant moments, it is inconsistent at best. Many times, it sways between somber Batman-centric elements and the familiar defend-home-at-all-costs tropes found in holiday features. It can seem confused about its target demographic—fans of Batman or children ready to imbibe some holiday cheer. As a result, the movie often teeters between mildly fun and painstakingly bland.

Merry Little Batman somewhat delivers on its charming premise, mixing action with festive spirit. Yet, it often lacks finesse in its narrative elements, wrestling with well-trodden clichés and offering familiar renditions of beloved characters. But, with solid visuals and occasional moments of emotion, this may prove a worthy addition to your holiday movie roster.

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Merry Little Batman Review: A Small Dosage of DC Holiday Spirit
  • Acting - 7/10
    7/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 7/10
    7/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 5/10
    5/10
  • Setting/Theme - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
  • Watchability - 7/10
    7/10
  • Rewatchability - 5.5/10
    5.5/10
Overall
6.3/10
6.3/10
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About Caillou Pettis

Caillou Pettis is a professional film critic and journalist as well as the author of While You Sleep, The Inspiring World of Horror: The Movies That Influenced Generations, and co-author of Out of Time: True Paranormal Encounters. He has been writing in the entertainment industry for over seven and a half years professionally. Throughout the years, he has written articles for publications including Gold Derby, Exclaim!, CBR, Awards Radar, Awards Watch, Flickering Myth, BRWC, Starburst Magazine, Punch Drunk Critics, Mediaversity Reviews, Vinyl Chapters, Northern Transmissions, and Beats Per Minute.