Verdict: A hilarious and heartbreaking film that advocates against hate.
Taika Waititi continues his streak of acclaimed films with Jojo Rabbit, which just might be his biggest work as a filmmaker till date. While his previous films have been praised by critics and audiences, with Jojo Rabbit he has gathered a phenomenal cast, brought a unique story to the big screen, and also received plenty of awards and nominations – all for a good reason.
What’s Jojo Rabbit About:
Ten-year-old Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) is a part of Hitler Youth during World War II in Germany. Led by Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell), the group prepares young kids for war. Although he has a close friend in Hitler Youth named Yorki (Archie Yates), Jojo also has an imaginary friend who he can always turn to for advice – Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi). Things turn complicated for Jojo when he finds a young Jewish girl named Elsa (Thomasin Mackenzie) hidden in his house by his mother (Scarlett Johansson).
This film balances the seriousness of World War II with light-hearted and comedic moments. Jojo Rabbit is a satire told through the lens of a coming-of-age story set in Nazi Germany. The film takes place over the span of six months during which Jojo goes from being a loyal Nazi to understanding that there’s more to the world than blindly following propaganda. The emotional weight of Jojo Rabbit is carried by Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin Mackenzie who give performances with an incredible depth. The two of them portray the two wildly different experiences of growing up in Germany – one of them was ‘free’ to follow Hitler into the glorious war and the other had to hide or be hunted down by the Gestapo.
But even while portraying the grim past, Taika Waititi has managed to put an uplifting spin on it through his direction, script, and performance as Hitler. The supporting cast is just as brilliant. Archie Yates‘ Yorki has some of the funniest lines in the film. Jojo and Yorki’s friendship is delightful to watch as the two of them still manage to behave like kids even though they have to confront the brutal realities of war. Scarlett Johansson gives one of her best performances yet as Rosie, a single mother who tries to keep her son safe while also doing what she can to contribute to what she believes in. Sam Rockwell‘s Captain K and his second-in-command played by Alfie Allen also have several memorable moments in the film. Rebel Wilson, who plays Fräulein Rahm, shows the ridiculousness and harshness of the Nazis. Stephen Merchant, who plays the freakishly tall Gestapo agent, carries off one of the tensest and the funniest scenes in the film well.
All of the performances, comedy, and drama are tied together with Jojo Rabbit’s music, which deserves an honorable mention. It not only has a great score by Michael Giacchino but also a selection of great songs which include original German versions of pop songs sung by The Beatles (Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand, the German version of I Want To Hold Your Hand) and David Bowie (Helden, the German version of Heroes).
What Could’ve Been Better:
The film’s tonal shifts from hilarious moments to deadly serious ones can be a bit jarring but it’s also what makes the film special.
Why You Should Watch:
Jojo Rabbit has been nominated for six Oscars but it’s also a genuinely entertaining watch. It’s unlike any film you may have seen before about World War II as it shows you what it was like to live in Germany through the perspective of a young boy.
Need more reasons to watch the film? Check out our video below: