Let’s Talk About: Jojo Rabbit
Asking yourself “am I laughing at Nazis right now?” is an interesting factor to add into the cinematic experience to say the least.
For those who don’t know, since it wasn’t exactly a blockbuster film, Jojo Rabbit is a 2019 film by New Zealander Taika Waititi that takes a satirical point of view on WW2 and the Hitler Youth program. Starring a few kids (Thomasin Mackenzie, Roman Griffin Davis, Archie Yates), Scarlett Johansson, Rebel Wilson, Sam Rockwell, Stephen Merchant, and Taika himself (as Hitler), Jojo Rabbit is a comedy-drama film based on a book by Christine Leunens called Caging Skies (2008).
For understandable reasons, this movie didn’t exactly “win” with the general public, since “poking fun at WW2” is not a particularly great single line pitch for a movie, but I personally think Jojo Rabbit was one of the best films to come out of 2019.
As I’ve mentioned, the whole “set during Hitler Germany involving Hitler-youth” subject matter definitely tip-toed along a risky line, I’m a strong believer that Taika Waititi can do anything he wishes and do it well. Unfortunately, the only other film I’ve seen by him is Thor: Ragnarok (which is hands down one of the best Marvel films to date), so I’m looking forward to watching more of his films (ex. Thor: Love and Thunder coming soon). But from these two experiences alone I can tell he has such a fascinating way of story-telling.
Also, his satirical portrayal of Hitler was unsatisfyingly hilarious. Everytime I laughed (which was a lot), it made me so uncomfortable, but it was such an intriguing performance for that exact reason. Also, the impressive dynamic and comedic chemistry between Roman and Taika should be noted.
Not only were the starring kids absolutely amazing, notably Archie who definitely stole many comedic win for himself, but the rest of the cast were such integral parts in telling this story the right way. So funny and so sad all at the same time.
One cast member I want to highlight is Stephen Merchant. I love him. I first saw him in that movie “Toothfairy” with The Rock (2010) and I have been eager to see him in anything ever since. For those who don’t know, he co-wrote the original UK version of The Office, and in this film he plays extremely tall agent Deertz of the Gestapo, definitely stealing some scenes. Notably this scene, which is worth the watch.
Also, I really just want to highlight this youtube video in some way. Not only do you get to see Taika’s director brain working right in front of you, but you can also understand my only criticism of the film: that Taika and Stephen have such great chemistry and they should have had more scenes in the film together. That’s literally my only criticism.
Overall, this movie works to bring comedy and drama in ways that I’ve personally never seen done before. It also handles a really, really dark subject manner in a way that reconciles such a horrific time in history with some really creative humour and intriguing story telling. I have no idea what I’d compare this movie to because it’s so unique, but I highly suggest finding a way to see this film because it’s beyond worth the watch.