Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit ★★★½

What does it mean to be a Nazi? Taika Waititi's Jojo Rabbit examines the confusion of childhood in the turbulence of 1940s Germany. Here, Nazi logic and childish logic are exposed as similar. 

Waititi has never been a satirist and Jojo Rabbit is more a straightforward comedy than a meaningful dissection of ideology. The jokes come from our adult knowledge that such views are ludicrous. In a vacuum, Jojo Rabbit hardly explores the deep-rooted contradictions and fallacies in such fascistic beliefs. The dramatic arc of our titular lead doesn't even come down to a rejection of bigoted views, but instead because he merely happens to love a Jewish girl. That doesn't mean there's no attempts at satire in Jojo Rabbit, as the very presence of the non-White and Jewish Waititi playing a lovable version of Hitler instantly sends up nazism.

Where Jojo Rabbit shines is its comedy, to the detriment of all else. The sweet and heartfelt nature of the jokes play lightly and hilariously whilst the background noise becomes full of dramatic revelations. Stephen Merchant in particular has a fantastically funny cameo as a gestapo officer.

Unfortunately the dramatic and emotional support of the film is haphazard. When Jojo discovers a Jewish girl living in the walls of his house, played by the wonderful Thomasin McKenzie from Leave No Trace, the film unravels a plot that has sizeable stakes. However as the drama is less sparkly and endearing compared to the comedy, it becomes easy to detach. When the highlight of the film is a goofy Hitler, scenes of legitimate trauma don't quite land. It becomes difficult to invest, so some of the most powerful scenes in theory feel rather cold in execution.

Jojo Rabbit presents Taika Waititi at his most mature, tackling systemic bigotry whilst keeping his penchant for stories of children finding themselves. Whilst Jojo Rabbit is a truly funny film all the way throughout, it suffers from a strange sense that the plot of hate is too manufactured. As a self-proclaimed "anti-hate satire" something lacks, but as a wonderfully fun take on serious issues Jojo Rabbit is a winning film.

Side-note: I love the soundtrack choices here!

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Academy Award for Best Picture Nominees Ranked

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