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Jojo Rabbit

✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

Germany, USA

2019

Rated PG-13 • 1h 48m

Director Taika Waititi

Starring Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson, Taika Waititi

Genre Comedy, War, Drama

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Jojo Rabbit is about a young boy living during World War II. His only escapism is through his imaginary friend, an ethnically inaccurate version of Adolf Hitler, who pushes the young boy's naive patriotic beliefs. However, this all changes when a young girl challenges those views and causes Jojo to face his own issues.

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WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING?

Billy Donoso Profile picture for Billy Donoso

'Jojo Rabbit' is one of those movies that exists in a strange limbo of thoroughly enjoying the sights and the whimsy presented on screen while having a hard time shaking the feeling that maaaaybe this is an inappropriate setting for it. The Holocaust is, after all, one of the most tragic and vile moments in the entire timeline of human history. At first, Hollywood gave us war films that were close to propaganda in how strongly they denounced Naziism in favor of patriotic American liberation. And then, starting with 'Schindler's List,' Hollywood gave us a litany of films that gave us the perspective of Jews and how unabashedly cruel and evil their treatment was. 'Jojo Rabbit' brings with it the immediate question: are we at the point where we can joke about the Holocaust? But usually, when people ask a question like that, they are asking if it is okay to make fun of horrific things in a self-gratifying and insensitive way, and I don't think that's what 'Jojo Rabbit' does. Satire treads a fine line between enlightening and dubious, and I personally believe that Waititi, despite all the showmanship he brings to the movie, has a fair amount of restraint that manages to keep the rodeo basically under control. Littering the ensemble of Nazi characters are buffoons, drunkards, bullies, and creeps, while Scarlett Johansson's character and nearly all the children are quirky but empathetic human beings, if naive at times. Most people today are aware of the unadulterated horror of the Holocaust, and yet not many are aware of how good people become complicit in evil societies. It is perhaps necessary to use children as a vehicle for this story, as we often think of children as malleable sponges of peer-pressured behavior. It also should make the events of the story all the more heartbreaking, and when watching 'Jojo,' it was absolutely heartbreaking. This movie would fail tremendously if it were tone-deaf, and I believe Waititi was extremely conscious about this, because its satire is hilarious and punchy when it needs to be as much as its heart-wrenchingly distressing moments are upsetting and serious when they need to be. It's an incredibly bold film by nature, but with recent successes like 'The Death of Stalin' and 'The Interview,' it seems this kind of historical catastrophe-based tragicomedy is becoming more acceptable and appreciated. If this comes across as too cold, it is only because the real events are not trivial to me and I am hesitant to lavish a film like this with praise when it doesn't exist in an "Alice in Wonderland" fiction universe but our own very real, very harrowing Earthly past.

Eddie Godino Profile picture for Eddie Godino

Few films combine comedy and tragedy as well as Jojo Rabbit, creating a very different perspective on Nazi Germany than what is usually seen on the big screen. Taika Waititi shines in both the director's chair and as Jojo's imaginary friend Hitler, whose obvious differences from the actual Hitler emphasize how propaganda was used to influence the German youth at the time. While some of the characters clearly struggle to maintain their accents, the film's more absurdist take on the time period does well to cover up any discrepancies. Overall, Jojo Rabbit is an experience that will make you want to laugh, cry, dance, and then do it all over again.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

40

The Guardian by Benjamin Lee

It’s oddly safe, given the subject matter, and the humour is similarly sanitised. What Waititi thinks is shockingly audacious is in fact frustratingly timid, he opts for a gentle prod when maybe a punch would do.
33

The Playlist by Charles Bramesco

Taika Waititi’s self-proclaimed “anti-hate satire” “Jojo Rabbit” exists in service of a single idea, a notion so desperately idealistic that it lands somewhere between naïveté and disingenuousness.
50

IndieWire by Eric Kohn

Yes, Waititi’s sugary fantasy unearths an endearing quality in the most unlikely places. But in the process, it buries the awful truth.
60

Total Film by Jane Crowther

Though it dabbles with the horror of the Third Reich it never examines their worst atrocities ... And that perhaps, is too careless in today’s world of a rising far right and stealth dictatorships. But if you’re looking for giddy escapism, Bowie tunes and an unapologetic good time with a side order of remembrance for of WW2, then you’ll have as much fun as the cast clearly had making this.
0

Slant Magazine by Keith Uhlich

Waititi is incapable of dealing with the twin horrors of oppression and indoctrination beyond cheap-seats sentimentality and joke-making.
91

Entertainment Weekly by Leah Greenblatt

Waititi ... finds such strange, sweet humor in his storytelling that the movie somehow maintains its ballast, even when the tone inevitably (and it feels, necessarily) shifts.
60

Variety by Owen Gleiberman

It’s like a Wes Anderson movie set during the Third Reich. ... And yet it’s not as if it’s a terrible movie; it’s actually a studiously conventional movie dressed up in the self-congratulatory “daring” of its look!-let’s-prank-the-Nazis cachet.
85

TheWrap by Steve Pond

A twisted piece of grandly entertaining provocation. ... This is a dark satire that finds a way to make a case for understanding.
40

Screen Daily by Tim Grierson

Jojo Rabbit doesn’t lack for ambition or sincerity of purpose — which only makes it more disappointing that the film proves to be so meagre. ... Rather than being bracing or dangerous, this comedy ends up feeling a little too safe, a little too scattered, and a little too inconsequential.

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