This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Peter H’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I went into this wanting to love it. I could already feel the words "best film of the year" form on my lips as the lights in the theater dimmed. And at the beginning, it was everything I hoped. Taika Waititi was a fabulous ham as Adolf Hitler and the jokes were solid as anything else Waititi has written/directed. Setting the opening scene in a Hitler Youth camp to a Beatles song sung in German was inspired.
While the humor consistently delivered, the story fell apart in the third act. Waititi had banked so many pregnant moments, and none of them pay off. The scratch on the floor, the promise of a kiss, Hitler's hilariously off-brand comment about his Germany having room for all sorts of animals. None of these get callbacks. The death of Jojo's mother is processed in 10 or 12 seconds, and is without visible consequence after that. And I guess the gestapo just left Jojo alone despite his traitorous mother and suspicious sister?
Jojo's dialogue sounds unnatural for a 10 year old boy, even excepting his jokes. I'm not sure if that's more a fault of writing or acting, but it detracted just enough to keep me from being reliably immersed. The supporting performances are invariably great, and special mention goes to Sam Rockwell. Also, I'm 6'5", but I am consistently shocked by how tall Stephen Merchant is.
Ultimately, I think Waititi's whimsy and slice-of-life style is less suited to this type of story. The whole thing is suffused with imagination and love, but the plot stumbles repeatedly. Still, I'm happy this exists. It's so fucking funny, and it has a nice heart.