Jojo Rabbit‘s blend of irreverent humor and serious ideas definitely won’t be to everyone’s taste — but either way, this anti-hate satire is audacious to a fault.
Writer director Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok and Hunt for the Wilderpeople), brings his signature style of humor and pathos to his latest film, JOJO RABBIT, a World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy (Roman Griffin Davis as Jojo) whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (played by Taika Waititi!), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.
This is a movie about the cognitive dissonance, the moral morass drowning a 10-year-old boy that is mediated by his remarkable mother whose quiet resistance is inspiring and her undoing, a simultaneously brave and frightened teenage Jewish girl, a disgraced, sardonic and closeted Nazi officer whose presumed heroism has been reduced to babysitting, and a necessarily one-dimensional parody of Hitler because *the entire movie unfolds from Jojo’s perspective.* Is it merely coincidence that every important character has something to hide, including Jojo, whose secret imaginary friend, the Fuhrer, is known by him only?
The World Wars are almost entirely faded from living memory. Movies like this are essential to keep alive the recognition that war is too often commanded by men far removed from the frontlines and the horrific reality of children in cardboard uniforms with grenades tucked into their belts, and arthritic grandfathers pressed into service even when the cause is lost.
Jojo’s perception is necessarily depicted as a hyperbolic swing from blind idolatry, constrained by his naive innocence, to nauseating horror. He is the lynchpin to this movie. The perspective is always his.
See this movie. Take your kids.