Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit ★★

I had skepticism before turning it on; give me my WWII history lessons hard. For about twenty minutes, though, Jojo Rabbit had the kind of riotous and tasteless satire that was surprisingly imbued with hypocrisy and blind fanaticism that I was at best hoping for (terrific showboating, Sam Rockwell and Rebel Wilson). And there's a battle-raucous climax that has the right amount of absurd carnage and inept soldiering (the Germans!) on display.

In-between, I like director Taika Waititi's decision to make his small German town fastidiously spruce and fashionable, best be said cheery (and just as ignorant as well). Then there's a rib-tickling scene with Stephen Merchant as menacing but cordial Gestapo Captain Deertz who searches for a possible hidden Jew hid inside our Nazi boy Jojo's house. Deertz thinks himself as a man of precision but has blinders on, and he's a fake intellect. Bravo, Merchant. Scarlett Johansson, as Jojo's mom, is curiously missing during this big scene but she gives far too much an "SNL" style turn, so good riddance.

Anyway, there's a large bulk of Jojo Rabbit that is far too lightweight for my tastes, and is something of a failed ideological mess. For instance, what the hell does that the epilogue even mean?? It reads:

Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final.

If you know what that means in the context of this movie, it's okay, you don't have to explain it to me. Keep it to yourself. I just don't care.

I can laugh at any war comedy, even if it's a vulgar WWII/Hitler thing. I'm all for "The Great Dictator" or "The Producers," or a softie comedy-drama like "Life is Beautiful" hit all the right notes. Waititi is a doofus Hitler in this, and I was fine with that, maybe chuckled a couple times. Hitler’s best facetious line: "People used to say a lot of nasty things about me. 'Oh, this guy's a lunatic!' 'Oh, look at that psycho! He's gonna get us all killed!'

The exchanges between Jojo (played by Roman Griffin Davis) and the Jew he's hiding in his house, Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie), had worked for a couple minutes with me. But it's played out so slow, and coy.

Every time Jojo and Elsa shared a scene together, I wanted to shout at the screen: Hurry the fuck up and shoot-off your best canned satiric dialogue at each other, already!

Jojo just didn't have the mojo for a major movie character, either, in my opinion. I honestly was in stitches every time boy chum Yorkie (Archie Yates) turned up. Yorki says things of awesome awareness, like, "There are bigger things to worry about than Jews, Jojo. There's Russians out there somewhere." Yorki has all the best lines, and Jojo the gullible has none of them; when Yorki says anything matter of fact about racial politics and puffed up Nationalism, the movie scores. But the movie generally isn't brazen or rude enough, and when it's mushy, that's when it is at its worst with trivializing Nazism and WWII. So trivial its' points are synthetic.

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