Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit ★★

Using Nazis, Hitler, and WWII in general for either satire, pulp, or exploitation has a storied history in cinema. These break down into three categories ...

1) the satirical comedy against Hitler and/or Nazis eg. The Great Dictator, To Be or Not to Be, The Producers, and even aspects of Inglourious Basterds

2) WWII as an action/adventure white knuckler often with Nazis as convenient baddies; arguably began with The Great Escape and continued on with The Dirty Dozen, Where Eagles Dare, Indiana Jones and Inglorious Bastards (and the misspelled QT "remake" again)

3) Nazisploitation which was a real thing in the '70s with Ilsa She Wolf of the SS and Love Camp 7. I'd also include transgressive arthouse films like The Night Porter and Salo as being Nazisploitation adjacent.

The point of my digression is there is a precedence for Taika Waititi making a Nazi comedy, so my lukewarm response has nothing to do with any nontroversy about it being in poor taste. Au contraire, my lukewarm response has more to do with the film forgetting to have any bite and turns into a subpar WWII drama you've likely seen countless times. Like a discount The Pianist meets Hope and Glory (two superior films). It needs the sharp teeth of the vampire Jews Jojo draws in his sketchbook.

Waititi doesn't seem interested in pushing the transgressions he lays out for too long, so instead it aims for cheap sentimentality. To be fair, Charlie Chaplin with The Great Dictator felt the need to turn "Adenoid Hynkel" (read: Adolf Hitler) into a buffoon before shifting gears in the final moments to deliver one hell of a rousing speech about compassion directed squarely at the audience. I don't think it's too much of a hot take to say Jojo Rabbit is no The Great Dictator.

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