Chase’s review published on Letterboxd:
I expected to have much greater issues with this film than I did.
Whatever the film's noble intent, there were naturally going to be concerns that handling Nazi Germany - and an imaginary friend Hitler - by making light of them would do more harm than good.
To the contrary, following the often sickening cheerfulness of the film's first half (using actual footage of crowds cheering on Hitler alongside the music of The Beatles was certainly a pointed choice), the film more than gives way to the horrors of hate and war, as well as making its characters face real consequences. This quick change is certainly odd tonally, but, then, we acclaim the likes of Director Bong for just such abrupt choices. (Granted, he'd never take on a project like this.)
Now, none of this is to call it a perfect, or even particularly good, film. In particular, the conclusion in which our young lead finally ditches Hitler, which should surely be among the film's most powerful moments, falls rather flat.
Still, we get an excellent Sam Rockwell (hilarious in the film's earlier half, poignant in its last), and some surprisingly sobering moments of human tragedy. I got more of a sense of what Waititi hoped to do here than I expected based on some friends' reactions, but it's a shame he didn't take a bit more time, perhaps by not seemingly rushing to get the film in between Marvel epics, to perfect and develop his concept, as it required quite a delicate amount of care to pull off something like this, care that doesn't feel like it was quite taken.
That being said, I'll again admit to liking, or at least accepting, this film far more than I anticipated.