LOS ANGELES—According to a comprehensive study released this week by researchers at UCLA, 87 percent of feature-length motion pictures would be significantly improved by the addition of 59-year-old film and television actor Michael Keaton.
The report, which gathered film data and survey results over a 12-year period, found that simply by adding Michael Keaton—either in a showy, leading-man part; a delicious, scene-stealing supporting role; or even an unexpected but heartily welcome cameo appearance—nearly 9 in 10 films would rate as at least "better," and in many cases "much better."
"According to our results, the mere presence of Michael Keaton acts as a catalyst by which the quality of a film rises exponentially in relation to his screen time," said lead researcher Dr. Jonathan Scott, who has been studying Keaton intensively since the actor's appearance in the 1982 comedy Night Shift. "Ninety-three percent of comedies would be improved by the addition of his manic, live-wire energy, while a full 72 percent of dramatic features would benefit from his surprisingly adept touch with tender characterizations."
"Overall, we were impressed by these results, although one can hardly call them surprising," Scott continued. "I mean, of course these films would be better. It's Michael Keaton."
After observing how Michael Keaton made the otherwise unwatchable films Jack Frost and My Life 58 percent more watchable, researchers said they determined that 100 percent of films of equal or lesser quality would have experienced similar results if Michael Keaton had been cast in them.
In addition, a film's genre had no noticeable effect on the results, with the report concluding that Michael Keaton is equally at home in blockbuster action films like Batman, broad farces like Johnny Dangerously, and emotionally harrowing films like Clean And Sober.
Further analysis found that the film The Hunt for Red October would have been 31 percent more solid with Michael Keaton in the Alec Baldwin role.
"The remarkable versatility of Michael Keaton was a key factor in the resulting data," said Scott, gesturing to a screen behind him playing Michael Keaton's famous "wubby" speech from the 1983 film Mr. Mom. "In fact, his mastery of his craft posed a series of further questions to our team: questions such as, 'Is there any role that Michael Keaton can't play?' and 'Why is Michael Keaton not being utilized more in movies these days?'"
Another significant finding was that many classic films heretofore believed to be impossible to improve upon—including Citizen Kane, The Seven Samurai, The Battleship Potemkin, and Pinocchio—would actually be enhanced substantially by an on-screen appearance by Michael Keaton in some capacity, if only for a few precious moments.
"We determined that if Charlie Chaplin had simply turned the camera on Michael Keaton for five minutes in City Lights and just let him go wild like in Beetlejuice, then that film would be at least 12 percent stronger than it is now," said Scott, adding that Michael Keaton's work as a psychotic killer in Pacific Heights proves he also would have considerably aided Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. "And a majority of movies double in quality if, while watching them, the viewer imagines the way Michael Keaton would deliver a given character's lines."
"Conventional wisdom would tell us that these figures are impossible, as Michael Keaton is far from being some great Shakespearean actor," Scott continued. "But that's where conventional wisdom is wrong: Michael Keaton is a great Shakespearean actor. He played Dogberry in Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing and he crushed it— just knocked it right out of the park. "
Researchers concluded their remarks by claiming that a number of films already featuring Michael Keaton, including Jackie Brown, The Dream Team, and The Other Guys, would have greatly benefited from the insertion of even more Michael Keaton into certain scenes, preferably every scene.
In response to the UCLA team's announcement, actor Michael Keaton downplayed the findings.
"Okay, you guys," said Keaton, instantly making a newspaper article better simply by appearing briefly and uttering a few words. "Settle down."