Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit ★★★

The praise that has been directed at wunder-director Taika Waititi for his latest satirical comedy drama has been lavish to say the least.

So I was a bit underwhelmed by this story of a 10 year old boy in mid-1940s Germany who has bought so hard into the Nazi propaganda of the time that his imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler himself. Said boy soon has his values challenged by unforeseen developments in his life, as the war heads toward its conclusion with the allied forces bearing down on his town.

As a comedy, JoJo Rabbit is hit and miss. Waititi is clearly having a ball lampooning Hitler, speaking in anachronisms, and being the superego to JoJo's protagonist. But he pops in and out of the story, and isn't really the heart of it, which means JoJo Rabbit is a more serious film than the trailers would have had you think. In fact, it's more of a drama about a boy's coming of age in very difficult times, rather than a straight out comedy.

Roman Griffin Davis is fine as JoJo, but to be fair to the first timer, he is up against some serious talent in the supporting cast. Sam Rockwell is memorable in his world-weary role, while Scarlett Johansson is also impressive in her relatively few scenes (though I'm surprised she's being touted for a best Supporting Actress nod; I thought she was far better as one of the leads in Marriage Story). Then there's Stephen Merchant being cast perfectly as a Gestapo agent, and my personal MVP of the film, Archie Yates as JoJo's best friend, Yorki. Yates nails the bumbling best friend with a heart of gold, and owns some of the funniest moments in the film. The other major lead, Thomasin McKenzie, is also quite good and somehow looks far younger than her 19 years of age; though Alfie Allen is completely wasted in a thankless role as Rockwell's right-hand man; even as Rebel Wilson manages to turn down her Rebel Wilsonness enough to be mildly amusing.

Otherwise, most everything else - direction, lighting, production design and editing - is competent. I'm not a fan of anachronistic music in films, however, so the use of German versions of more contemporary songs started to annoy me by halfway through the film.

But Yorki saved the day for me in what was a largely predictable story - one surprising fate aside.

Overall, JoJo Rabbit is a fine film. It suffers, however, when compared to Waititi's more recent output, with What We Do In the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Thor: Ragnarok all being films that worked more effectively (for me).

3 Absolute Views of the World for JoJo Rabbit.

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