Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit ★★★★½

A film like Jojo Rabbit begs to make its points with sledgehammer. If the subject matter doesn't make you think this is going to be a very on the nose kind of film, the "An Anti-Hate Satire" tagline probably did. Fortunately, Taika Waititi shows restraint throughoug-there are no winkingly pointed references to the current day, and he resists the temptation to give one of his actors a Big Oscar Monologue explaining What The Film Is All About. He's surgical and precise in his satire, letting the absurd moments wash over his audience rather than nudging us in the ribs to make sure we got it. While I generally associate Waititi with comedic writing, there are some seriously impressive moments of dramatic visual storytelling on display here, ones which will likely stick with me longer than any of the films jokes (which is not a knock on the jokes in the slightest).

The film also takes on a much more somber and serious tone in places than I was expecting. There's much more to the film than the "let's laugh at goofy Hitler tone of the trailers". The Producers, this is not. While Waititi's take on Hitler is funny throughout, the fact remains that it represents a lifetime of indoctrination and brainwashing for the film's main character, The film does not shy away from this for the sake of a cheap laugh, and Waititi can make things scary just as easily as he can make it silly.

There's just so many things that can go wrong with a film like this. It can be too irreverent, it can be too reverent, it can make some characters too sympathetic or make them not sympathetic enough, it can be funny when it needs to be serious and serious when it needs to be funny. Jojo Rabbit avoids all those pitfalls. It even manages to include non-period popular music and Rebel Wilson, two things that I usually find grating, and make them work to great effect.

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