Studio: Warner Bros.
Director: Todd Phillips
MPAA Rating: R
Review by: Jay Andrews Tracy
Joker is a really good movie. I wouldn’t say the best movie ever, but it is well written (co-written by Todd Phillips and Scott Silver). It is a movie about Arthur Fleck and how he becomes the Joker. There have been many different portrays of Joker throughout the Batman Years. Joker has been played by many different actors (Jared Leto – Suicide Squad, Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight, Jack Nicholson – Batman 1981, Cesar Romero – The Batman Series), and this time he is played by Joaquin Phoenix.
This is a story of how Arthur Fleck truly becomes the Joker, with him being bullied in Gotham City, his attempts to become an aspiring comedian, his mental difficulties, family issues, and the continual breakdown of Arthur’s connection to the rest of humanity. This is an origin movie, and the character development is amazing, with wondering what happened before “Batman” and the possible connections with what happened to and possibly with Bruce Wayne’s parents. We also see Arthur interacting with a young Bruce Wayne (Dante Periera-Olson) in one of the trailers, so this is not really a spoiler.
Joker’s mother Penny (Frances Conroy) is very old and quite unstable herself, and is trying to get who she thinks is Arthur’s father, Thomas Wayne (Brett Cullen). We see that the Fleck’s, and the Wayne’s possibly have a history together, which upsets a crumbling Arthur very much. Because if that were the case, it would make Joker Batman’s half brother.
Arthur’s work was doing various jobs as a clown, to make people laugh, and he eventually wants to be a standup comedian. We see him struggle with teenagers being a bully to him, beating him up and causing him to slowly turn into the Joker. Joker has an uncontrollable laugh that gets him in trouble with various people.
A familiar face in the movie is Robert De Niro who plays Murray Franklin, a television talk-show host whom Arthur admires very much, who is instrumental in the monumental change from Arthur Fleck to one of the best versions of the Joker ever portrayed. He eventually invites Arthur to the show to do his stand up comedy act, and of course Arthur gets bullied by him as well, and just adds to the issues that Arthur is facing.
Director Todd Phillips has explained that this movie has no connection with the DC Expanded Universe (commonly known as the DCEU Movies), in both the Venice Film Festival and the recent Toronto International Film Festival (Source: https://www.cinemablend.com/news/2479584/todd-phillips-explains-why-joker-isnt-connected-to-the-dceu), which makes up the movies that are known as the Batman series. While it seems that the film tries to connect the comic books, what with the shooting of Bruce Wayne’s parents and other events that Batman fans can recognize, people are going to try to make a connection with Arthur and the previous movies, and it just isn’t there. Even the shooting of Bruce Wayne’s parents is confusing because in the 1989 Burton Batman film, Jack Napier aka Joker kills the parents, and in Joker 2019, they were killed by someone else, to distinguish the difference between the movies.
Over all this is a great movie. I am looking forward to the sequel, which has been announced that Joaquin Phoenix will return as the Arthur Fleck Joker. I personally think the best Joker, however, is the Jack Nicholson Joker.