jo jo rabbit

Taika Waititi and Roman Griffin Davis in 'Jo Jo Rabbit.' Image sourced from IMDB Production Credit:Fox Searchlight Pictures. 

Jojo Rabbit is a fresh take on WWII era satire directed by Taika Waititi, who has directed movies such as “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” and who also stars in the movie himself.

Jojo Rabbit (Roman Griffin Davis) is your typical 10-year-old boy. He’s a little awkward, a little shy and he has a lot of growing up to do. Oh yeah, and he’s a Nazi.

Jojo’s a fanatic. From the posters on his walls to his obsession with Aryanism he once cried for weeks when he found out his grandfather wasn’t blonde he’s a true Nazi youth. His imaginary friend (and hypeman) is even Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi) himself.

 

But when he finds out there’s a Jewish girl named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) hiding in his own house, Jojo is stuck with a decision to make. While deciding whether to rat her out or not, he learns a lot about Jews he didn’t know before; namely that they can’t read your mind, don’t have wings and won’t eat children.

The movie blends the coming-of-age genre with the satire genre to create something entirely new. This is apparent in the star-studded cast, as there’s a mixture of comedic actors, like Rebel Wilson and Stephen Merchant, and dramatic actors, like Scarlett Johansson and Alfie Allen.

There are definitely moments in the movie where the satire shines through, and if you’re a fan of deadpan or absurdist humor, you’ll probably laugh out loud. 

But there are also scenes in the movie that will make you hold your breath, cry your eyes out, or get a warm fuzzy feeling inside. It’s truly a movie that takes you through the full range of human emotions, all while making you laugh.

Surprisingly though, the movie never feels like it needs to pick a direction and stick with it. The directors do a great job of blending satire and drama together in a way that just works, which gives it a fresh new feel.

The movie teaches acceptance of those who are different from us, and does so in a way that’s smart and organic, as opposed to trying to force-feed it down the audience’s throat as many movies do. Jojo’s mother is played by Scarlett Johansson, and the character writing and acting come together perfectly to truly make the viewer feel like love and life are the only things in the world that matter.

The biggest critique of the movie would be the imaginary Hitler character. Waititi himself plays the character, and in this role at least, he probably should’ve stuck to just directing the movie. It never really feels like the character fits into the tone of the movie or adds anything to it. The writers avoided the pitfall of being offensive or insensitive, but the jokes written for the character feel cringey, overdone and out of place with the rest of the movie’s witty humor.

Ultimately, the natural chemistry between Davis and McKenzie and the lessons about love and life that Scarlett Johansson teach make the movie a worthwhile watch. While it might not go down as an instant classic, the movie gives off an Indie movie vibe backed by a big movie budget and cast that, when combined, make something truly unique.