Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit ★★★

Turns out all Moonrise Kingdom needed to be enjoyable was more Nazis.

There is genuinely something in the concept, but it unfortunately lapses into manipulative and 'good people on both sides' kinda schmaltz that feels deeply undeserved in a movie that hinges on the idea that the Nazis were legit cartoon villains. I like Taika Waititi's sense of humor, and I kinda enjoyed his intensely bizarre Hitler cameos even if they were mostly unwarranted to the storytelling (and perhaps felt more like a marketing gimmick than even a real role). Telling the story of Nazi Germany through a ten year old boy's eyes was smart, who better to speak to propaganda than those who grew up in it and knew nothing but it. I enjoyed the lighthearted tone because it matched how Jojo would have seen things–hate can sure be fun when you don't have to hold anybody accountable for your devious fantasies. But it sort of drops the ball on the follow through... I didn't need subversion as much as I wanted to see Jojo's growth as a person–unfortunately you get neither.

The first major death was surprisingly jarring but well done. But the movie lost me after the Americans swooped in and the genre clashing managed to outdo itself. I especially didn't like the explicit redemption of Sam Rockwell (who seems to be making his whole career playing right wingers lately) despite the fact that it was implied over and over he was secretly being oppressed / sympathetic to the cause. The whole thing got too serious too quickly, trying to shove in some half-assed lessons about the horrors of war in the last minute or perhaps just a cheap shot at Americans for not being the true heroes they like to claim to be. Either way, it mostly ate into the vibe and certainly broke the spell of 'this could be for children' by getting too deep too quick and then praising a handful of 'good' Nazis before sending them off to die. Lame!

Enjoyed the Beatles and Bowie german-language songs getting their big screen due tho. Story behind those is maybe funnier than the movie though.

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