Jojo Rabbit [Fantastic Fest 2019]

September 21, 2019155 min

In a world that is filled with copycats and clones, it is always refreshing to find someone that swims against the stream. If you have ever seen a Taika Waititi film you know that they are not like anything else out there. They are always filled with humor and heart and they seem to be just the right film you need in your life. With that said his new film Jojo Rabbit, with its satire focused on Hitler, might sound like something you don’t need in your life. But trust me when I say it is for sure the thing we all need right now.

Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) is a ten year old in Nazi Germany who is about as gung ho about Hitler and his cause as you can be. This weekend is a big weekend as he is invited to a youth camp, the kind that trains you to do all the camp things, like throw a grenade and all those war things a ten year old needs to know. Jojo though has a friend in his corner and when things don’t go well at the camp, that friend is Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi) who helps him get through all the tough times. Now of course Hitler is not really there, but instead in Jojo’s head nonetheless he always seems to provide just what Jojo needs to hear. While Jojo speaks like a great Nazi, in reality he is a scared boy, who in reality is a mommas boy as his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) still ties his shoes. With a mom like that you are always in good hands and when Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell) also takes a liking to Jojo his life seems to be going great. All that changes when Jojo discovers a girl named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) hiding in his house, and she will make him question everything he knows, all while we get some good laughs along the way.

At this point in Waititi’s career, I don’t really care what his movies are about, because I know they will be good. Jojo Rabbit doesn’t disappoint as the story has the right combination of everything that makes you want more. Like his previous films, there is a message there, but the kind that you don’t know you are hearing until the end and it never feels pandering or manipulating. Waititi doesn’t just write and direct, but also joins a great cast that all shine, including him. With that said the performance by Davis and McKenzie are incredible and every time they are on the screen together you can see why they are the heart of the film. But that doesn’t take away anything from the others like Rockwell and Waititi who are just plainly put too perfect in what they bring and together make this just a good ol’ time. There are plenty of movies about this era, but none have been told through the filter of Waititi’s eyes and that makes this one truly a sight to behold.

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