Mark Costello’s review published on Letterboxd:
Admirable and sometimes gloriously successful, this goofball mix of the absurd and the horrifying comes unstuck because it ends up an uneasy blend of the two.
Much more successful for me in its opening scenes, we quickly get in tune with Waititi's tone - the introductions of Adolf, of JoJo's wonderfully cute and dim best friend Yorki and the outrageous Captain played brilliantly as ever by Sam Rockwell paint a film with glorious absurdity in the vein of classic Python, but with just enough of Taika's trademark irreverence to give it a more modern feel. Its hilarious without overstepping the mark on the atrocities its depicting.
But the introduction of Elsa sees the absurdity stop almost completely and the film becomes something else. Suddenly you're more aware of the horror of the landscape and of the situations and the humour almost stops seeping through, leading up to the terrifying discovery of the fate of one of JoJo's family members - the film doesn't stop being 'good', its just not the same film it was in the insane opening act. Maybe it didn't feel it could be as absurd as the opening act when dealing with this part of the story.....maybe the humour just stopped being funny........who knows.........
But its only come the explosive finale that the film starts to get that mix right again. Up to here, the films more comedic elements during this time - Merchant's SS agent and Rebel Wilson being truly dreadful - fail to illicit a single giggle.
So we're left with a film that tells a very good story but doesn't quite know how best to do it - when its playing for more all out absurdism, its far more successful than when trying to confront some of the more dramatic elements of the story for me. I wanted the film to be all like the first act and missed that all the way through.
Interesting, heartwrenching but spotty in its humour.