Joker Review

MOVIE REVIEW: How Combustible IS “Joker” (& Can Kids See It?)

There are two things you should know before reading my Joker review.
First of all, I have never read a single comic-book. My knowledge of the DC Universe is based on the films I’ve seen ONLY. This is important because the DC devotees in the audience did not experience Joker the same way I did. The woman sitting next to me even said, “Joker might be a good movie, but that isn’t the Joker that I know.”
The other thing you should know is that I had a surprise root-canal just before the Joker screening and the numbing agents wore off as I watched it. I noticed as the pain started to bloom and thought, “This is going to be a major distraction.”
It wasn’t though. In fact, I was so thoroughly engrossed in Todd Phillips’ version of this story, I almost forgot about the pain.
Joker is this character’s long-awaited origin story, where Arthur Fleck doesn’t slip into madness as much as he embraces what was always there. He cares for his aging mother and struggles to find a place in the world, then inadvertently becomes a symbol for the downtrodden. There’s been much written about the symbolism here, and whether Joker would incite violence in a society that has seen far too much of it. While I can’t predict the future, I don’t see how Joker is any more dangerous than violent films like the John Wick series, or even watch-it-all-burn tales like the Purge movies. Yes, Joker is violent, and stunningly so at times, but the bloodshed is presented more as a tipping-point than heroism.
The warnings from the FBI and US Military threatened to drown out the biggest buzz about Joker, which centered around Joaquin Phoenix’s performance. He disappears into this role, making Arthur terrifying, grotesque and yet still sympathetic. Joaquin Phoenix deserves every breathless review he’s gotten for this, and all the nominations that will come his way after.
In fact, my only complaint about Joker is that Todd Phillips lingers too long on simple scenes of a tormented Arthur. A full 15 to 20 minutes could’ve been shaved off this film, but Phillips seemed so in love with this Joker, he just didn’t want to stop filming him. (A-)
PARENT REVIEW: Joker is rated R for “strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images.” It deserves every inch of that R rating, but parents should also be aware of Arthur Fleck’s homicidal urges and, more specifically, his suicidal tendencies. This could be a trigger for anyone who has these types of thoughts, especially kids. That’s why I can’t, in good conscience, recommend Joker for any kids under 16 and suggest that parents see it first before taking them along.

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