Plot: During World War II, a lonely German boy’s world is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend Adolf Hitler, Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.
Director: Taika Waititi
Released: January 2020
I firmly believe that any subject can be funny if handled right and Jojo Rabbit is the perfect example of that. You would be excused for thinking that a charming coming of age comedy-drama set in Nazi Germany in which Hitler is a child’s imaginary friend couldn’t possibly work, but when you have a talented director such as Taika Waititi at the helm and a script full of zany irreverent comedy, the film works and better than that get an Oscar nomination in the process.
These days it would be so easy for a film covering these subjects to be branded as ‘triggering’ or ‘oversensitive’ by the woke brigade, which makes it all the most surprising that Disney of all studios took a gable to make the film, but it’s clear to see that people still get satire, even if it based on such a terrible period of human history. Should Hitler be portrayed in such a comedic and goofy way? I believe the answer is yes! it worked in The Producers and it works again here, introducing another generation to the horrors WWII, in a new way and one that will be seen by people who don’t normally watch war films.
Whilst the vast majority of critics have praised the movie, there are some who have either said that the makers went too far or not far enough. But you can’t please everyone and frankly, any film that The Guardian hates is usually a sign that you would go to see it. After all, it would be impossible to delve into the full horrors of the holocaust without losing some of what makes the film so special and it’s important to remember that this film is supposed to be viewed through the eyes of a 10-year-old child.
Now everything depicted in Jojo Rabbit isn’t played for laughs. There are plenty of moments during the film in which the horrors of war are brought home to Jojo and audience alike and more than once the emotion hits you. Waititi has a knack for knowing just when to pull at the heartstrings with a poignant sequence, without milking it for all its worth. There were a couple of scenes in which I was glued to the screen and had to stop myself from tearing up.
Waititi doesn’t make ugly films, Thor: Ragnarok is probably Marvels prettiest of the cinematic universe and once again he has made a film that’s ascetically a sight to behold, his colour palette and framing is perfect throughout and beautifully shadows how the characters are feeling at that point. There is a tonal shift in the third act that works really well and really brings it home how much is changing for everyone involved.
Across the board the performances or terrific, both the young Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie shining in every scene, while the supporting cast including Scarlett Johannsen, Sam Rockwell and even Stephen Merchant popping up to provide add a little stardust to the film. Even Taika Waititi playing Adolf Hitler is a joy to watch and every scene he appears is comedy gold. More than once I laughed out loud.
The best way to describe Jojo Rabit is 3 quarters comedy, 1 quarter emotion, this film has the power to make you laugh and cry in every scene and better than that it’s filled to the brim with perfect acting, great visuals and lastly a truly wonderful soundtrack filled with German versions of such iconic songs.