Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit ★★★★

81/100

"Love is the strongest thing in the world."
"I think you'll find that metal is the strongest thing in the world. Followed closely by dynamite and then muscles."

Jojo Rabbit delivers on Waititi's best intentions, crafting an inspiring, hopeful message of love and kindness achievable even in Nazi Germany when you look through the eyes of a kind-hearted, ten year-old boy. Waititi's direction is sharp if not entirely encapsulating and his classic humorous chops are riddled throughout the film, sure to earn a few chuckles. I do wish, however, that he had given himself a larger screen presence. Waititi has always been the brightest face on the screen in each role he's had, even when he's not actually on the screen (see: Ragnarok), so it's unfortunate that his rendition of a brainwashed German child's imaginary interpretation of Adolt Hitler didn't have more screentime. I suppose it's for effort to balance the comedy with the drama of the film. Which is a fine idea, if not for the fact that the comedy is largely more successful than the drama. The script has a large, beating heart with more than enough reason to jerk a tear from your eye, and believe me I've been known to shed a few for a heartbreaking film deserving of such reaction, but Jojo is largely unsuccessful in this endeavor. In particular, this is do to the lack of conviction from the titular role. Newcomer, Roman Griffin Davis, at just eleven years-old, simply doesn't have the chops of his on-screen teen counterpart, Thomasin McKenzie, whom is destined for stardom. Were roles reversed, talent-wise, the film's dramatic elements would have been largely more affecting and the film would be overall entirely better for it. McKenzie nails her role, and alongside her immaculate performance in the previous year's Leave No Trace, she shows tremendous promise, sure to emulate the likes of the legends she shares the screen with here, Johansson and Rockwell, whom both deliver typically excellent work. Were Jojo Rabbit successful in its darkest, heartbreaking elements, this would have been a near masterpiece in what is surely Waititi's most ambitious, if most unsuccessful effort since his debut, albeit a mostly successful and satisfying one nonetheless. I greatly recommend this film, but if unfamiliar with his work, see Hunt for the Wilderpeople for an example of what Waititi is capable of, humor-wise, and Boy for an example of his ability to capture an earned tear or two.