Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit ★★★★

Any attempt to find laughs within true life atrocities is a risky venture fraught with danger. Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, on the whole, manages to tread that fine tightrope successfully. Marketed as a satire, it’s more of a coming-of-age tale showing complex ideological ideas though the eyes of a young child. The JoJo of the title is fully indoctrinated in the propaganda of Nazi Germany; Hitler is great, Jews are monsters, we’re winning the war, but as he finds out over the course of the film, none of which are true. In his eyes, Hitler is an impish, childlike figure, dancing and skipping and eating unicorn meat. Through his friendship with a young Jewish girl that his mother is hiding in their attic, he discovers everything he had been told and taught to be vitriolic nonsense and hate filled fiction, and he grows up over the course of the film. Terrific performances from the two young kids, from the whole cast really, and I think Waititi does a good job of balancing the comedic and the horrific (there are laugh out loud moments as well as more sobering moments that remind us of the atrocities that are happening beneath the guffaws). Visually you’re reminded of Wes Anderson, in particular Moonrise Kingdom. I don’t think it’s as clever as it wants to be (the satire doesn’t go beyond “aren’t the beliefs of the Nazi’s silly?”) and some of the laughter comes from a place of awkward shock as opposed to any satirical bite, but Waititi’s intentions are pure and, aided by some tremendous child performances, does a good job of showing war and fascism and other complex ideas filtered through the mind of a child. It’s very entertaining, very funny, at times emotionally tough but doesn’t have the depth that it needs to be successfully called a satire.

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