Joker isn’t your typical superhero movie, it’s a dramatic character study. And Todd Phillips isn’t your typical drama filmmaker. He has spent the majority of his career making bro comedies such as Road Trip, Old School and The Hangover films. When Phillips was asked earlier this week about why he moved away from comedy for Joker, he called out “woke culture” for killing comedy. It has Thor: Ragnarok and Jojo Rabbit writer/director Taika Waititi amused. Check it:
It’s a playful jab at Todd Phillips’ recent comments. Taika Waititi flipped his words around by calling it funny themselves. It’s also especially fitting for Waititi to respond to this in light of his upcoming satire Jojo Rabbit. The comedy has him dressing up as an imaginary-friend version of Adolf Hitler. He’s the perfect counter example to Phillips’ words. Check out the full quote from Joker filmmaker, per Vanity Fair:
Go try to be funny nowadays with this woke culture. There were articles written about why comedies don’t work anymore—I’ll tell you why, because all the fucking funny guys are like, ‘Fuck this shit, because I don’t want to offend you.’ It’s hard to argue with 30 million people on Twitter. You just can’t do it, right? So you just go, ‘I’m out.’ I’m out, and you know what? With all my comedies—I think that what comedies in general all have in common—is they’re irreverent. So I go, ‘How do I do something irreverent, but fuck comedy? Oh I know, let’s take the comic book movie universe and turn it on its head with this.’ And so that’s really where that came from.
Yet, Taika Waititi gets irreverent in Jojo Rabbit. He flips the taboo topic of Nazi Germany the backdrop on to his heartwarming coming-of-age story. The Thor director isn’t the only comedic figure discussing Todd Phillips comments. The Good Place actress Jameela Jamil also tweeted this out:
It’s true the comedy genre in film has changed significantly in recent years. Todd Phillips’ first two Hangover still sit atop the highest-grossing R-rated comedy releases. The closest comedy movie to a hit this year was the Seth Rogen-produced Good Boys – it recently passed $100 million globally. Otherwise, we’re not in any particular golden age for comedies. Comic book movies on the other hand, those movies indisputably reign the box office.
As Todd Phillips explains, he found a new way to be irreverent in Joker. The movie subverts the highly-saturated genre by going from realism in the vein of Taxi Driver or The King of Comedy. Ironically enough, the movie follows a version of Joker who fails in a comedian career and moves to violent acts instead.
Joker itself has had its own share of controversy in recent weeks as some critics have pointed to its problematic nature, potential glamorization of violence and sympathy to the villain. Otherwise, Joker has been highly-praised – some calling it a "masterpiece". The movie comes to theaters on October 4.