Review: Harley Quinn: A Very Problematic Valentine’s Day Special (2023)
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Directed by: Cecilia Aranovich & Jennifer Coyle
Written by: Justin Halpern, Patrick Schumacker & Dean Lorey
Starring: Kaley Cuoco, Lake Bell, Alan Tudyk, James Adomian and others
Review by: Ryan Rodriguez
To celebrate her first Valentine’s Day, Harley Quinn tries to plan the biggest, most romantic night ever for her and Poison Ivy. Heroes and villains of Gotham City and beyond join in the celebration of love, aiming to achieve the darkest, loudest and most romantic day of the year in the new Harley Quinn: A Very Troubled Valentine’s Day Specific.
If you are a fan of the hit TV series, which has now completed its third season, then you will enjoy this “Special”, which has a sense of logical flow from the events of the final season. It’s quite possibly one of the most raunchy and outrageous stories ever to come out of DC animation. As the title suggests, it mainly follows Harley Quinn (Kaley Cuoco) and Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) on Valentine’s Day, where utter mayhem and extreme humor ensue. If you’re not familiar with the TV series, Harley and her gang often break the fourth wall a lot, and this is no different. I tried to avoid big spoilers.
Although, if I wanted to break it down, the 44 minute episode features three main teams, Harley & Ivy, Clayface and Bane. Clayface’s (Alan Tudyk) story follows him preparing for a date with a new match from a dating app (even against Ivy’s remarks that he might be a catfish) and Bane (James Adomian) who accidentally meets a date while is located in the city alone.
The madness of the adventure begins when Harley buys a spell from Etrigan the Demon to impress Ivy in the bedroom. The unfortunate side effects of the spell become apparent when Ivy releases her pheromones into the Gotham skyline. This makes the people and animals of the town lose their inhibitions (to put it mildly). Meanwhile, Clayface is on a journey of self-discovery and self-love. Bane is faced with an issue that is not himself and visits Etrigan for help with a certain something that is out of proportion to his body size. Unfortunately for Bane, this has hilarious side effects when mixed with Ivy’s pheromones.
Highlights of Valentine’s Day
A personal highlight throughout the episode was the various super-couples testifying about their romances: Superman and Lois Lane, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Killer Croc and Enchantress, Aquaman and Mera, Darkseid and Kimberly Guilfoyle (random, but also funny).
If you’re a big fan of Brett Goldstein, he has a very important role to play in the overall plot.
There aren’t really any negatives to this animated special, other than it’s almost the length of a double episode, so it’s much shorter than a lot of other DC animated movies. The themes and tone of the expert, in particular, are very mature and would certainly not be recommended for a younger audience.
The story is great and I loved the little jokes on the themes of Valentine’s Day, love and romance. Bane’s predicament is completely hilarious and ties in nicely with the larger story about Harley trying to impress Ivy. The plot doesn’t hold anything back and features strong adult themes and references. However, this remains true to the genre and audience that the series has focused on within the first three seasons. It’s a lot of fun and well worth a watch for all fans of the show.