Warner Bros. is using negative critic reviews to promote the upcoming film Joker. Directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix, the psychological thriller recently won the prestigious Golden Lion award at the Venice International Film Festival. Despite mostly positive reviews, Joker has received polarizing reactions from North American critics.
Critical reviews aside, Joker has been controversial on many levels. For one, the film is directed by Todd Phillips, who’s known for helming The Hangover trilogy, along with the 2003 comedy classic Old School. Naturally, not all fans of the DC character have been entirely pleased with the director picked for Arthur Fleck’s origin story, set in 1981. In addition, Joker is a standalone film, which means that the narrative doesn’t set up any sequels like the MCU or DCEU. After the Venice premiere, various North American critics expressed their displeasure on Twitter and in official reviews, unimpressed with Phoenix’s perceived over-acting, along with how the stylized violence could transfer over into the real world. Joker currently holds a 78 Tomatometer score at Rotten Tomatoes.
On Twitter, Next Best Picture’s Will Mavity pointed out that Warner Bros. used an interesting quote from Indiewire’s David Ehrlich to promote Joker: “An Immaculately Crafted Piece Of Mass Entertainment.” In the critic’s official review, however, the lead-in describes Joker as “incendiary, confused, and potentially toxic.” By the end, Ehrlich muses about Phillips’ intentions as a filmmaker, which precedes the quote snippet that Warner Bros. decided to use for marketing purposes. The review ends with Ehrlich describing Joker as “good enough to be dangerous, and bad enough to demand better.” Despite the mostly-negative assessment and a C+ grading, Warner Bros. used the kindest portion of the review. Check out Mavity’s Joker tweet below.
WB slapping a quote from @davidehrlich's negative review of Joker on the poster, when there are a dozen positive ones to choose from instead, is some god level trolling on their part. pic.twitter.com/YauNi2nUrG— Will Mavity (@mavericksmovies) September 11, 2019
While it’s not uncommon for Hollywood studios to pick and choose the best critic lines to promote an upcoming feature, it’s telling that Warner Bros. misrepresented the words of a prominent American critic. Given the title of the film in question, however, Joker’s marketing team may have decided to troll Ehrlich and Indiewire. On Twitter, various critics and moviegoers have been passionately debating Joker’s place in 2019 film culture and society as a whole, which organically builds even more hype ahead of the film’s wide release. It's also worth noting that Joker bears similarities to 1983 satire The King of Comedy, but that seems to be purely intentional -- the latter film's star, Robert De Niro, has a supporting role in Joker as a talk show host; an homage to his famous wannabe stand-up character Rupert Pupkin.
Now that Joker has premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, it wouldn’t be surprising if Warner Bros. uses even more select wording from negative reviews for marketing purposes. There’s plenty of positive reviews to consider, but the joke seems to be on the skeptical critics, which will only fuel the online buzz.
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
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