Lydia Roberts’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Looks like we're in a Mexican stalemate"
"I think it's just a stalemate"
Aw nuts, here I was hoping to like this. Missed this as closing film of Leeds Intl. Film Festival in November due to the worst traffic mankind has ever seen but turns out I didn't really miss too much I guess? As far as vanity projects go, writer/producer/director/star Waititi's latest is among the most interesting of the bunch, if only on paper. Out of context all of the gags and moments of slapstick you've seen in the trailers all land and look genuinely funny; in actuality somehow nothing seems to work whatsoever. It's an excruciating opening with a real wish-I-was-Wes feel with its needle drops and symmetrical framing. Most of the laughs I made, or chuckles, however few there were, are mostly on account of a kind of awkwardness and sense of obligation... because I realised very early on that this just wasn't going to be funny and then it REALLY hit me that it wasn't going to be funny.
And I think because of that I really got what so many others are saying about this sort of, maybe, not needing to actually exist because damn do I definitely sort of feel just how uncomfortable a lot of it is. Mostly I think it's on account of Waititi failing to actually subvert much or do any real four-balled kicking. Give 93 year old Mel Brooks the money and see what he can do with this because I'm sure it'd be better.
There's a whole bunch of tonal inconsistencies, the film merely just sort of vaguely exists as a broad something that can't really be defined by very much. Elsa, the film's most interesting character, is relegated to Jojo's support, there to change his mind about Jews because, surprise, she's really pretty. On account of performances it's a range of let downs but Taika himself is just straight up embarrassing as the imaginary Adolf Hitler and it's absolutely not in the way he wants it to be.
I don't think there's terribly too much to praise about this one beyond a broad "it looks nice", it has Stephen Merchant whom impresses and is always lovely to see (even as Gestapo agent), and a surprising love for the ending. Doing a total opposite of what was expected, I actually far preferred the more serious and dramatic side to Jojo's bizarre adventure (sorry, not even a fan). I That ending's just really kinda cute but I think that undermines a lot of it too, maybe.
Either way I think this is just a mess of bits and pieces that, together, could be made into a nice bit of movie making but for now I've got to pass.
It DOES, however, feature Tom Waits' I Don't Wanna Grow Up which is basically my favourite song of his and one of the best of all time ever because it makes me want to sob every time I hear it.