Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
You have to walk a fine line, but also have some serious confidence to not only Director a dark Nazi comedy but also play Hitler himself ... and kudos to Taika Waititi for pulling it off.
"Let everything happen to you ... beauty and terror ... just keep going ... no feeling is final."
I think the key to making a parody of one of the evilest regimes in world history work, is firstly to center it around an enduring coming of age story, and also by surrounding that with an all-star team of over the top comedic performances.
"You're not a Nazi, Jojo. You're a ten-year-old kid who likes dressing up in a funny uniform and wants to be part of a club."
- Rebel Wilson can be hit or miss with her zany ' hey, look at me' style of humor', but that absolutely works for her role in this as a gung-ho Nazi Fräulein. And her with that machine gun was priceless
- Next, Scarlett Johansson is great in 'Marriage Story' but her performance is absolutely magnetic here with her charm as a preverbal 'Good German'. It was a clever idea for her anti-nazi influence on Jojo to be so subtle, in order to avoid confusing him about what he was taught as a Hitler youth
- Then you have Taika Waititi who is just crazy as hell as this imaginary friend version of Hitler, that appears to council Jojo
- It was funny how the pictures we see of Hitler change back and forth between Waititi Hitler and real Hitler. Also, I recall seeing those red and black on-screen graphics they used in other WW2 movies, and the colors of course are reminiscent of the swastika
- I guess Sam Rockwell has no problem with being typecast as a 'loveable' bigot, as he fills out a Nazi officer uniform for this role. And since he is not a natural comedic actor he instead plays it as this slacker don't give a shit version of a 'Good German'. And there are several key moments where he uses his power to look out for Jojo
- Also a big shout-out for Jojo's little friend with glasses that reminded me of Piggy from 'Lord of the Flies'
- Damn those public hanging scenes were effective at peppering in a cold dose of reality into this mostly comic affair
- I was absolutely digging this movie during the first act when Jojo goes to that youth training camp. But I felt like it got a bit too slow and sentimental throughout the middle of the film, as he develops a friendship with a young Jewish girl. It was such an interesting dynamic to hear Jojo as this naive kid, talk about all this crazy anti-semitic rhetoric he was taught. And I loved that moment when his little friend tells him how the Jewish people he came across seemed pretty normal
I would say this is the third film I can think of that takes a comic look at this dark period of human history, with 'Life is Beautiful' and 'Inglorious Basterds' being the others. As time has gone on, I have heard the reputation for 'Life is Beautiful' has faded with how people feel about its potentially disrespectful comic approach. So it will be interesting to see if that is simply inevitable as more and more people see this film, with comedy that could certainly hit people the wrong way ... based on their family history or sensitivity. But personally I love dark over the top humor so Jojo Rabbit was right up my alley.
"Just a little Heil ... Fuck off Hitler!"
Thanks for reading.
Happy movie watching ... Skål!