JOKER stars Joaquin Phoenix in the title role of Batman’s future nemesis. The story imagines the origins of the psychotic supervillain called the Joker. In this version, Arthur Fleck aka the Joker works as a clown while moonlighting as a mediocre standup comedian. He gets beaten by teenage thugs, but fights back one night against three rich white men on the subway and shoots them in cold blood. The clown killer becomes a hero to Gotham’s poor and leftists. Eventually, the Joker goes on a violent rampage of revenge that earns him more adulation.
The JOKER movie is too somber, violent and depressing to be truly entertaining. Also, there’s no cleverness, wit or intelligence in its depiction of the Joker, just malice and pity. Finally, the movie has a strong Romantic, politically correct worldview. Like the three rich white men on the subway, Batman’s real father, Thomas Wayne, turns out to be a rich jerk too. JOKER ends up in an abhorrent place. It’s a betrayal of the Batman comic books and sucks the pleasure out of watching their most iconic villain.
(RoRoRo, PCPC, LLL, VVV, S, N, AA, D, MM):
Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Very strong Romantic worldview with some strong politically correct elements where society, including Batman’s wealthy father Thomas Wayne and the title character’s own mother, has turned the title character into a troubled, angry and ultimately violently psychotic man who hates rich and powerful people and becomes a symbol of rebellion for leftist protestors who also seem to hate rich and powerful people, plus, although the movie doesn’t exactly endorse the title character’s murderous revenge, it does endorse his hatred of rich and powerful people and turns Batman’s father into a power-hungry villain who looks down on the poor, thus endorsing the politically correct elements in the story
About 41 obscenities (mostly “f” words), one Jesus profanity and three light profanities (which seem borderline)
Some very strong/extreme/graphic violence and strong violence include man shot point blank in head, man knifed in neck and head with lots of blood, man shoots boy’s mother (not seen), but blood specks splatter boy’s face, thug shoots boy’s father in front of boy, teenage thug hits man in head with wood advertising sign, teenage thugs kick man as he lies on ground, drunken men kick man after knocking him down, but he shoots two of them during the fight and chases down the third one (who’s wounded in one leg) to shoot several bullets into him, man smothers elderly woman to death in her hospital bed, reports of child abuse mentioned, ambulance hits police car, and masked men driving ambulance carefully lift bloodied man’s body out of the police car and onto the hood, a rich man hits another man in the face, foot chase when man tries to catch teenage boys who stole his advertising sign, car hits man chasing teenage boys, and man smashes into car window but gets up after falling to the street
Implied fornication between title character and a woman, but the movie later seems to imply that the title character imagined that the woman was responding to him romantically
Upper male nudity in several scenes when the title character takes off his shorts or walks around in his apartment in his underwear
Brief alcohol use and man kills three drunken men who harass him and a woman on the subway late at night
Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
Title character smokes often, which becomes pretty annoying during the movie, in an obnoxious way; and,
Strong miscellaneous immorality includes teenagers steal a working clown’s advertising sign and eventually destroy it by using it to whack him in the head, three drunken rich men harass two people on a subway, a TV show host mocks a mediocre standup comedian on his show, and this angers the comedian to the point of violence, and mentally disturbed title character eventually becomes psychotic and decides to take violent revenge against the people who abused him or whom he thinks abused him, including his own mother.
JOKER stars Joaquin Phoenix in the title role of Batman’s future nemesis, in a story that imagines the origins of the psychotic supervillain known as the Joker. JOKER creates a politically correct version of the iconic villain as a man who’s become mentally and emotionally damaged and is eventually driven violently insane and angry against those who’ve done him wrong, including rich people and his own mother. The JOKER movie doesn’t always glamorize the Joker’s violence, but it comes pretty close, in a loathsome, abhorrent way. Eventually, the Joker becomes an urban hero to the leftist rioters in the movie who bring chaos to Gotham, so the movie probably will indeed lead some leftist extremists in real life to emulate the Joker’s murderous revenge against society. Antifa leaders and other violent, leftist iconoclasts will LOVE this movie.
JOKER opens with Arthur Fleck, a troubled man who works as a clown and moonlights as a mediocre standup comedian, trying to put on a happy face like his mother always advised him. However, his smile quickly turns to a sad frown.
Then, while he’s working as a clown trying to advertise a music store’s going out of business sale, some thuggish teenagers steal his yellow sign, and Arthur gives chase. Eventually, the teenagers slip down an alley, and, as Arthur enters the alley, one of the teenagers smashes him in the head with the sign, which splits into many pieces. Then, the teenagers all take turns kicking Arthur as he lies groaning on the concrete.
Fairly quickly, the movie reveals that Gotham is plagued by many problems, including a garbage strike and rat-infested streets. People are grumbling in the streets about the lack of jobs. Also, Arthur’s mother has always told him that his real father is the city’s richest man, Thomas Wayne, the father of the young Bruce Wayne, who will eventually become Batman, the Dark Knight. Arthur’s mother worked for Wayne 30 years ago when Arthur was born. She’s written to Wayne asking for help from him to aleve their poverty, but Wayne hasn’t replied to her yet, and Arthur thinks he never will. Meanwhile, Arthur visits his court-ordered therapist and shares his joke book and journal with the therapist, but she doesn’t get the morbid joke Arthur tells her.
One day, Randall, one of the clowns who works for the advertising and party company where Arthur also works, gives Arthur a gun, to protect Arthur from any other street punks. Arthur’s not used to taking any favors from Randall, who’s always teased Arthur at work. Sadly for Arthur, the gun slips out of his pocket while Arthur, dressed as a clown, is trying to bring some happiness to children at a hospital. Arthur’s boss fires him, and Arthur gets upset and literally “punches out” by punching the time clock. He also has some words with Randall, who denied to their boss that he’s the one who gave the gun to Arthur.
Upset, Arthur lingers downtown and finally takes a subway home. On the subway, however, three rich, drunken Wall Street guys harass a woman on the subway. Still dressed in his clown outfit, Arthur speaks up, the woman leaves, and the men turn their anger on Arthur. They start to beat up Arthur like the teenage gang did, but Arthur whips out his gun, shoots two of the men and then chases the third man down to murder him. Later, the media and Thomas Wayne express shock about these “clown” murders. It turns out the three men worked for Wayne Industries. Despite the outrage over the murders, other citizens in Gotham love what the killer clown did to the three rich guys. They start a protest movement against the elites running the city while emulating the description of the clown makeup the killer wore when he murdered the men.
At one point during all this, Arthur does a standup routine at a local club. At first, he can’t control his own laughter, but he finally starts telling some jokes. Arthur thinks the routine went well after the first few minutes, but his favorite TV talk show host (played by Robert De Niro), who televises his show in Gotham, like Jimmy Fallon or David Letterman, runs a clip of parts of the routine and mocks Arthur’s poor performance.
Surprisingly, Arthur’s elderly mother gets a letter from Thomas Wayne, who’s decided to run for Mayor. Arthur secretly reads the letter, where Wayne denies that Arthur is his son. So, Arthur visits Wayne Manor to try to see Thomas Wayne personally. At the gate, Arthur tries to engage with Bruce Wayne, who’s wondering about the strange looking man at the gate. He shows the boy some magic tricks, but Alfred, the Wayne butler, interferes, and Arthur tries to choke Alfred through the bars of the large gate. Suddenly, Bruce’s father shows up. He and Arthur have a conversation about the claims that Arthur’s mother has made, but Wayne denies them and tells Arthur he was actually adopted, and that his mother was put into a mental institution for a while after physically abusing Arthur as a baby.
Arthur leaves after being told this. The next day, he visits the Arkham Mental Hospital and asks a clerk to find his mother’s file. The clerk retrieves the file but won’t let Arthur take the file without his mother’s written permission. So, Arthur grabs the file from the clerk and runs away.
Arthur finally gets a chance to read the file and finds out he was indeed adopted, and that his mother’s boyfriend beat him, but his mother didn’t interfere. Arthur ended up with a head injury, and his mother ended up in the Arkham mental hospital.
The information in the file is the final straw that breaks the camel’s back. Arthur embarks on a violent rampage of revenge against all those who hurt him, including his mother, who’s ended up in a hospital with a stroke after a visit from two cops investigating the clown murders.
The JOKER movie is too somber, violent and depressing to be truly entertaining. Also, there’s no cleverness, wit or intelligence in the movie’s depiction of the Joker, just malice and pity. Finally, the movie has a strong Romantic worldview. It depicts a corrupt, angry, chaotic, and virtually insane city that’s gone off the rails. Thus, it is Arthur’s surroundings that turn him into a psychotic, enraged killer. At one point, Arthur, dressed as the Joker, just starts making up a lot of excuses for his psychotic, murderous behavior. Some of the excuses are attacks on the mean way in which the people of Gotham treat one another, but some of the excuses are politically correct attacks on the rich and powerful who oppress the poor and the weak. Eventually, leftist protestors in the streets turn the clown killer of the three rich men into an idol. Then, when the Joker goes on his rampage and reveals that he’s the clown killer, the protestors worship him, and he basks in their demonic adoration. Sadly, although they don’t overtly validate the Joker’s murderous rampage of revenge, the filmmakers add to all this by showing not only that the three rich men were venal jerks, but Thomas Wayne, Batman’s own father, is also a stuck-up rich jerk.
Ultimately, therefore, JOKER ends up in an abhorrent place. It’s a betrayal of the Batman comic books. It turns the values of the comic books upside down and sucks the pleasure out of watching what is arguably their most iconic villain. (The depiction of the Joker in the recent GOTHAM television series was far more interesting and entertaining. Of course, Cesar Romero’s Joker in the 1960s BATMAN series was a lot of fun.)
Worse, MOVIEGUIDE® can see how some deranged person or some left-wing extremist might take this JOKER movie and try to enact some kind of violent revenge against society, against rich people or against a personal enemy. The vast majority of viewers won’t be affected in this way, but a few might. Many scientific studies show this to be true.
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