Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit ★½

1.5/5.0 = Middling

If this is a satire then why isn't it funny? If this isn't a comedy why does it feature an imaginary talking Hitler? Tonally incongruous, haphazardly edited (the film could lose its entire first five minutes and be instantly improved), and structurally confused. Amazing how often this film introduces a new setting only to throw us into a new space as soon as we've begun to settle. I genuinely thought this would be a bootcamp film at first, then figured it would be a mother-son story, then had to transition into the Anne Frank parable, and finally somehow fuse all these together.

Waititi's Hitler is far and away the only funny part of this film, and yet he's so out of place, serving the base functions of regurgitating the protagonist's thoughts and doubling down on whatever occurred in the preceding scene that it's genuinely bewildering that he wasn't cut out of the movie. There's no denying that the tragic surprise twist in the third act is effective, but it can't hold a candle to Roberto Benigni's LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, which it so obviously is trying to imitate. And don't get me started on the broader aesthetic laziness of the whole thing. To think that Mihai Malaimare Jr. was both the cinematographer for this and THE MASTER has me howling! How does a DP this good capture such a trite Wes Anderson rip-off?

And none of that even gets to the actual root of the problem, which is the simple fact that JOJO RABBIT fails to articulate anything of value to current geopolitics. For a film that so obviously wants to be an allegory for our trying times of rampant nationalism, it's so incredibly frustrating that the only scene that dares take this on is Thomasin McKenzie's brief — albeit compelling — monologue about how Jojo isn't a Nazi, but rather "a boy who just wants to be part of a club". Had Waititi spent a little more time trying to consider the meat of his allegory, this could have been really special, but as it stands, JOJO RABBIT reads as a juvenile game of pretend; a work with the intellectual maturity of a college thesis film.