Tony (tectactoe)’s review published on Letterboxd:
On one hand...
”I believe you can joke about anything. It all depends on how you construct the joke.” –George Carlin
...but on the other hand...
”Not funny!!” –John Mulaney
Repulsive. Not because it applies a satirical, slapstick framework to one of the world’s most tragically gruesome realities, but because it’s so dreadfully unfunny. And, sure, that lack of (what I consider) humor feels exponentially heavier when unfolding in such a prickly context, but this brand of skittish, cutesy, self-consciously reflexive “comedy” wouldn’t be funny regardless of the subject matter. Parody that openly betroths incompetence as a forerunning component is very, very difficult to employ with unfaltering success—hence why great, purely comedic films in the vein of e.g. THIS IS SPINAL TAP are so few and far between—and right from the get-go, with the obnoxious Hitler-as-imaginary-friend pep talk, I knew this would be a slog: Loaded with sub-SNL jokes and devoid of anything remotely approaching cleverness. Worse yet, the biggest emotional bid (re Jojo’s mother) is so haphazardly jutted into the obliques of this squeamish caricaturing that it registers as entirely arbitrary, coming off as more of an obligatory “well, we can’t make a WWII film without some monumental scene of knee-buckling sadness” than something earned and truly felt. Others will argue that that’s not intended to be the film’s emotional core anyway, which is fine, but the alternative is: A misguided boy, dangerously misled by propaganda, slowly comes to the realization that Nazis are horrible, horrible people. Nothing wrong with that had it been appropriately handled, but between the interstitial, increasingly inane talks with (the always peppy) fake-Hitler and the carousel of other never ending cartoons like e.g. Fraulein Rahm and Captain Klenzendorf and Yorki always poking and prodding as obvious counterpoints to the ridiculous nature of Nazism amplified to the nth degree, I can’t possibly consider Jojo’s trajectory as anything but a blatantly transparent destination for this dumpster fire to finally conclude. How the fuck was this even considered as possibly the best released film of 2019?