Don't take your kids to see Joker. That's the message Alamo Drafthouse has warned parents who might assume the comic-book-inspired movie is suitable for children. The message, which has been shared across social media, echoes concerns by many parents and audiences in general about the violent content of the DC film, and comes amidst an online controversy surrounding the latest incarnation of the Clown Prince of Crime.
Starring Joaquin Phoenix and directed by Todd Phillips, Joker retells the story of the almost mythical Batman foe, attempting to explain and sympathize with his origins as a miserable, put-upon working man named Arthur Fleck. The film has received critical praise, especially for its lead performance by Phoenix, but just above the movie itself has been an ongoing conversation about Joker's brutal depiction of violence. Some critics have suggested that Joker sympathizes with or even glorifies dangerous people like Arthur who exist in the real world. Others, including several police departments around the country, worry that the film may inspire a copycat of the Aurora, Colorado shooter, who targeted a theater playing The Dark Knight Rises.
Violence in movies, even comic book movies, is nothing new. And if you saw the trailers for Joker and were on the fence about whether it was suitable for children, the Alamo Drafthouse in San Antonio wanted to be sure you knew their stance. In a Facebook post, they said:
"PARENTAL WARNING (This is not a Joke). Joker is RATED R and for good reason. There's lots of very, very rough language, brutal violence, and overall bad vibes. It's a gritty, dark, and realistic Taxi Driver-esque depiction of one man's descent into madness. It's not for kids, and they won't like it anyway. (There's no Batman.)
While neither the San Antonio theater nor any other Alamo Drafthouse is altering the film or barring underage viewers (so long as they have adult supervision), the post makes it clear that bringing children to this movie might come with a risk. And given the R-rating for intense violence, that's not a bad thing.
Joker's violence is a hot-button issue among audiences and critics right now, and it's certainly a movie which parents should find at least a little objectionable. The theater's comparison of the movie to Taxi Driver, a gritty 1976 drama directed by Martin Scorsese, is very apt according to numerous critics, who have made note of the visual similarities and homages made by Joker to that film - not the least of which is a significant role played by its lead actor, Robert de Niro.
Although it might be set in Gotham City and include references to well-known places and characters from Batman lore, Joker is an adult film with adult themes, and would at best put a young viewer to sleep. With critics still questioning the impact this film may have on grown-up audiences, bringing your kids to it might be missing the point in more ways than one.
Source: Alamo Drafthouse
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019