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Jojo Rabbit
Taika Waititi and Roman Griffin Davis in the film JOJO RABBIT. Photo by Kimberley French. © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

‘Jojo Rabbit’ Review: Hitler’s a fun imaginary friend… until he’s not

Jojo Rabbit is the journey of a young boy’s fascination, and eventual fallout, with Fascism. Learning sympathy and even love along the way

Finally making its wide release at the beginning of this month, ‘Jojo Rabbit’ is an enjoyable film that blends comedy and tragedy quite well, though is shy of a Taika Waititi masterpiece. As the director of comedic hits such as ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ and ‘What we do in the Shadows’ takes on yet another challenging directorial project: making a children’s comedy set in Nazi Germany.

Listen to “After the Credits episode 4.44 (The SS Is Not OK)” on Spreaker.
We cover ‘Jojo’ Rabbit on Rob and Norton’s After The Credits podcast

 

Jojo Rabbit Review

What’s unique about this movie is how lighthearted it establishes its serious backstory. Immediately drawing the audience into the world of Nazi fanaticism through the lens of an oblivious and overly excited child. As Jojo, played by Roman Griffin Davis, excitedly prepares for his first day at Nazi camp with his best friend: an imaginary Adolph Hitler, skillfully played by Taika Waititi himself who is a native New Zealander but also, Jewish himself.

The opening scroll through town then occurs, all to the tunes of a German rendition of “I want to hold your hand,” by The Beatles.

Soon after, we meet his adorably chubby best friend, Yorki, and then meet the supporting Nazi characters: A multiple-times pregnant Fraulein Rahm, played by Rebel Wilson , the incompetent and half-blind Captain Klenzendorf, played by Sam Rockwell, and his potentially gay love partner, Finkel, played by Alfie Allen. Everyone here absolutely loves Nazi Germany. Though as to why no one really knows, they kind of just go along with the hype like the rest of the country.

But after a tragic grenade tossing accident (spoilers: it’s more comedic backfiring than tragic), Jojo accidentally cripples himself and soon after, returns home with a bum leg and a slightly messed up face. Thankfully, his mother is Scarlett Johanson, and she’s not only beautifully on point in this movie, but she’s also a lot more sensible than the extremist Jojo.

The boy, now rejected by the Nazis for being a failure and a cripple, finds sympathy while living at home. Spending time with his mother, but also, discovering a new friend: Elsa, played by Thomasin McKenzie. Elsa is the secret Jewish girl living in Jojo’s walls that his mother is hiding. At first, Jojo, along with imaginary Hitler, detest Elsa. Though over time he attempts to study, gets to know of, and even, grows fond of Elsa as the two spend a lot of time together over a six month period…

Of course, all of this takes place towards the end of the war, while Germany is in great decline and Nazism, despite its fanaticism, is seeing the end of its days. Which all serves for great creative tension as we immediately know where this story will be going. It also serves a great switch, as the movie shifts in tone from its comedic origins into more surreal and dramatic beats towards its racing finish.

With Jojo having to make a big choice about what to do with Elsa.

And more importantly, decide how he wants to deal with Adolph Hitler.

 

Final Take

A really entertaining and funny movie with a surprisingly heartfelt message.

9/10

 

You can watch ‘Jojo Rabbit’ in theatres right now

About Christian Angeles

Christian Angeles likes to watch the moving pictures. He also listens to words on the page and writes in ways that make people feel things. All on a laptop. Sometimes from an app on his phone. You can follow him on Facebook or Instagram. Read his literature reviews on goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/xnangeles. Or read his articles in NewBrunswickToday: http://newbrunswicktoday.com/author/christian-angeles

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