JOKER Review — It’s Nothing to Laugh About

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Joker review — Starting out pitch black and going darker, this super villain origin story is about as grim and grimy as it gets.

Joker reviewDC Comics movies have always been darker than Marvel, and in the hands of directors like Christopher Nolan and Patty Jenkins, the darkness is balanced and intriguing. Not so with Todd Phillips’ Joker. Yes, the same writer/director/producer who brought you A Star is Born and The Hangover movies has come up with one of the most gratuitously grim films of the decade. You can’t help but wonder for whom the film rolls.

Really, is anyone, even the most aggravated incel, interested in seeing an annoying misanthrope with a chronic laugher problem go from unbalanced and depressed clown to unhinged and brutal murderer? Put him in a rotten and corrupt Gotham, which is literally portrayed as a festering garbage heap, and you have grim, unrelenting violence and misery. Just what everyone’s looking for in a relaxing night out at the movies after a hard week at work.

There are those who say the ugliness of the film is made endurable by Joaquin Phoenix’s riveting performance as Arthur Fleck, the poor, mistreated comedian gone wrong. And he is extraordinary… to the point of non-stop scenery chewing, leaving talented actors like like Frances Conroy, who plays the mother Arthur rooms with, (where else would a guy like this live?), Robert De Niro, as the talk show host Arthur adores, and  Zazie Beetz as his attractive neighbor, with all the responsibilities of animated props.

I will say the cinematography is intriguing in a gruesome sort of way, and the music is curiously compelling. But I’m really reaching for positives here. In essence, Joker is a thoroughly uncomfortable and unlikable film. Go if you really must, but keep the kids away. There are certain things no one really needs to see.

Rated R

2 Hours 2 Minutes

If, after reading this Joker review, you still want to see it, get times and tickets at

Joker review — Starting out pitch black and going darker, this super villain origin story is about as grim and grimy as it gets.

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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