There are three things that make good satire truly shine, self-awareness, humor, and good writing. These three aspects can turn any mediocre satire into something great, and they are absolutely instrumental in showing the inner workings of the thing you are being satirical about. Jojo Rabbit has all three of those things filled to the brim, becoming an instant Taika Waititi classic.
This director (apart from his Marvel films – Thor: Ragnarok, Thor: Love and Thunder), has consistently provided comedy that is nothing short of revolutionary and full of emotional impact.
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The Movie Review
From the perspective of a young member of the Hitler Youth, Jojo Rabbit captures the closing moments of World War II. Johannes ‘Jojo’ Betzler is a ten-year-old who experiences the pressure of fitting in with his peers due to his lack of physical prowess.
Luckily, he has an imaginary companion in the form of Hitler himself. However, his reputation is tarnished when he hesitates to kill a rabbit, earning him the mocking nickname of Jojo Rabbit.
Meanwhile, his mother Rosie holds a different viewpoint than the Nazis and is harboring a Jewish teenager, Elsa. When Jojo discovers this, he is faced with a difficult decision to keep following his blind faith or to change his perspective.
Taika Waititi’s zany take on Caging Skies, a 2018 novel by Christine Leunens, is one of the most amusing and touching movies of 2019. I’m fully aware that not everyone will share these same thoughts and ideas, but this film is genuinely an experience unlike any other.
The wit behind Waititi’s movie is masterful satire, but not everyone will appreciate the comedic approach to the horrors of Nazism, especially if they feel it’s too soon to do so.
The film is both amusing and profound, tackling serious issues in an unorthodox manner. In a way, the movie is a strange concoction of Schindler’s List, The Diary of Anne Frank, and a lengthy Monty Python skit, which leaves viewers feeling disoriented.
Waititi’s film is brilliant in its timing, as it delicately balances humor in poking fun at the Nazis’ principles, and the grim reality of World War II to explore deeper themes and emotions.
When Jojo becomes acquainted with a Jewish girl who shares his home, the true hideousness of his world begins to unravel, as Germany becomes increasingly desperate to cling to its territory in the face of the Allies’ advance.
At this juncture, Waititi veers away from the comedic elements and delves into moments of shock and drama to reinforce the message that ignorance and blind faith come at a terrible price.
Roman Griffin Davis is outstanding as the innocent yet naive Jojo, displaying impeccable comedic timing while also being able to deliver the emotional moments that the character demands. His chemistry with Thomasin McKenzie as Elsa is electric, and she brings an element of sharpness and wit to her character that offsets Jojo’s shallow ideals.
Scarlett Johansson is a standout as Jojo’s mother Rosie, delivering what is arguably her best performance to date. She brings a sense of optimism that is crucial to Jojo’s growth as a character and is the only adult in the film who is able to see through the horrors being inflicted by the Nazis.
As for Waititi’s portrayal of a young boy’s interpretation of Adolf Hitler, he handles it deftly, using his comedic talents to highlight the absurdity of Jojo’s indoctrination by the Nazis.
The cinematography in Jojo Rabbit is simply stunning, with Mihai Malaimare Jr’s work adding depth and dimension to the film’s visuals. The use of vibrant colors in the earlier scenes gradually shifts to a muted, subdued palette as the story progresses, mirroring the darkening mood and circumstances.
The imagery is at times both beautiful and haunting, adding an additional layer of emotion to an already powerful narrative. Malaimare Jr’s use of framing and perspective is also exceptional, bringing the viewer into the story, while still looking like a proper Waititi comedy.
As for the soundtrack, Michael Giacchino’s work is a perfect match for Waititi’s unique vision. From the whimsical and playful opening theme being a German rendition of The Beatles’ I Wanna Hold Your Hand, to the more somber and introspective moments, the score is masterfully crafted to convey the tone and mood of the story.
Giacchino’s use of a mix of traditional and modern instruments helps to create a sound that is both nostalgic and contemporary.
Jojo Rabbit is a brilliant and daring film that takes risks and pushes boundaries. It’s a movie that is sure to divide audiences, with some unable to see past the controversial nature of the story, but those who are willing to engage with it will find a deeply emotional and thought-provoking experience.
This is a film that is both hilarious and heart-wrenching, a rare balance that is difficult to achieve, but director Taika Waititi miraculously pulls it off.
- Unique and fresh take on World War II stories, giving it a satirical taste that is completely its own
- Brilliant performances by the cast, particularly Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, and Scarlett Johansson
- Waititi's direction and screenplay successfully balances humor and drama to deliver a poignant and thought-provoking story
- Stunning cinematography
- A great soundtrack by Michael Giacchino
- The film's use of humor to tackle such a serious topic may not sit well with some viewers
- Some may argue that the film doesn't do justice to the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime