‘Jojo Rabbit’ is charming; it’s witty… it’s savagely extraordinary. It’s by far one of the best films of 2019. How can I quickly summarize it for you? I can’t! You just need to see it!! I’ll explain.
It’s frightening that people are capable of being indoctrinated into a particular way of life, of looking at things that propagate hate and division. It can even become commonplace for individuals to detest their neighbors. This type of extreme discourse within a country shouldn’t be taken lightly. ‘Jojo Rabbit’ covers all of those points and more. Plus! David Bowie’s German version of the song ‘Heroes’ is on the soundtrack. That seals it! This movie is an absolute must-see. Not that it needed Bowie’s help.
The story takes place in Nazi Germany. A little boy named Jojo, played by the adorable Roman Griffin Davis, lives alone with his mother, Rosie (Johansson). The ten-year-old is quite proud of his Aryan heritage and lets that fact be known everywhere he goes.
With no father around, he becomes enamored with the powerful Hitler, completely idolizing him. He digs ever deeper into the Nazi world, easily brainwashed into believing in the propaganda he walks through the streets handing to people. He wants to make sure that every pair of eyes gaze upon Hitler’s messages of objection and derision. Much to Rosie’s chagrin, Jojo becomes a robust member of the Hitler Youth.
However, when She and her son walk by some Jewish people hanging in the public square, he looks up and inquires what they had done. She responds with what will send a chill down the spine of everyone in the audience, saying, ‘What they could.’ She quietly ushers him away from the scene.
With no man in the house except himself, Jojo creates an imaginary friend. This imaginary friend is his version of Adolf Hitler, cleverly portrayed with extreme comedic precision by writer/director, Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Hunt for the Wilderpeople). This character brings about the most laughs in the film.
Watching Waititi make fun of the Führer in the style of Mel Brooks with his monster Frankenstein felt oddly necessary. The man whines a lot, isn’t very bright, and he gives the boy a lot of grief. Jojo’s Hitler is childish; he’s kooky, silly, an outlandish caricature of who the real Hitler had been. And, if I may be so bold, he strongly resembles the president of a particular government today. One that will be the butt of jokes in movies yet to come. Jojo cares for his friend and loves his doting mother, but his world is about to be torn apart. When it turns out she’s hiding a young Jewish girl named Elsa, from his favorite dictator, he’s beside himself. Elsa, played by Thomasin McKenzie (Leave No Trace), withstands the child’s immaturity and school’s him in the ways of the Jewish people, but she can only take so much before the pain becomes too much to bear. Her scenes are exceptional and completely unforgettable.
There isn’t one reason not to see this movie. It is a bit disturbing watching a child engage in war and aggressive tactics, but it’s real and, like it or not, it happened. The film doesn’t glorify war or praise Hitler, and it’s essential to laugh. But I’d like to say that if you thought you’d get offended by the material in ‘Jojo Rabbit,’ I assure you; you won’t. Nationalism isn’t a joke, and this movie isn’t making light of what happened. What this very touching satire does manage to do is be humorous, educational, thought-provoking, and entertaining, all while still maintaining its hilarity. And it never once loses sight of the bigger picture. That picture is the message that the rise of fascism can happen anywhere, anytime and to anyone.The ‘Jojo Rabbit’ dialogue is alarming and dark, inspirational and moving, zany and absurd. The cast is incredible. I enjoyed each and every performance.
See this on the big screen so as not to miss the nuanced moments for which there are several. The shoes. Kudos to Waititi for the scene of Rosie’s shoes and the callback to them later in the film. You’ll see what I mean, but you won’t be prepared.
Director Taika Waititi
Writers Christine Leunens (novel), Taika Waititi (screenplay)
Stars Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson Taika Waititi, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen, and Sam Rockwell
Running Time: 1h 48m
Genres: Comedy, Drama, War