“You’re not a Nazi, Jojo. You’re a ten-year-old kid who likes dressing up in a funny uniform and wants to be part of a club.”
Jojo Rabbit, inspired by the novel Caging Skies by Christine Leunens, tells the story about a young boy, who’s eager to become a high ranking young soldier in the Nazi regime. However, Jojo’s lack of a killer instinct is eased by his loyal, invisible friend, Adolf Hitler. With the release of Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi is able to solidify himself as one of today’s finest working directors, while creating one of the greatest political satire films of all time.
I don’t know what initially brought about the creation of a story involving a young boy in Nazi Germany who’s best “invisible” friend is none other than Hitler. But whatever caused this story to come to fruition, makes for an interesting film. I can see where some may be offended and believe that a satire like this is still too soon for the horrific events during WW2. However, the risk is defiantly worth the payoff, because I fail to see where Jojo Rabbit disrespects those victims of Hitler’s savagery. Instead, I see Waititi’s performance of Hitler as an homage to the great comedians such as Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator, or Tom Dugan, Jack Benny, and Carole Lombard’s performances in To Be or Not to Be. Waititi holds himself in great company surrounded by the many comedians whose political satires proved to be a much needed dose of love in a cruel world. Now it is Waititi’s job. We are currently embroiled in a chaotic political world where few realize the importance of sympathy and understanding of those around us. That is what makes Jojo Rabbit even more important. To have a serious message enveloped by comedy is an easier pill for audience members to swallow.
Though all the acting is amazing in Jojo Rabbit, the majority of the performances fall on the young people of the film, but they fail to crack under pressure. Newcomer Roman Griffin Davis, is a diamond in the rough with his portrayal of Jojo. The fresh-faced actor is in every single scene, and has tremendous talent for someone that young. In addition —I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again— Thomasin McKenzie is a star in the making. McKenzie’s performance in last year’s Leave No Trace, was only a hint of the dramatics she can exhibit onscreen. As for the rest of the cast, including Scarlett Johansson, Rebel Wilson, and Sam Rockwell, you know what to expect from these talented actors. Each one brings the funny, while also tapping into their dramatic side.
Few films ever come around that can have you in stiches during one scene, and crying the next. Jojo Rabbit, with its quirky narrative, is nothing short of greatness by revealing a story that is both hilarious, and dramatic, with equal amounts of perfection.
Directed by: Taika Waititi
Starring: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson, Taika Waititi, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen, and Sam Rockwell
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