This is an incredibly bleak, somewhat depressing and yet still hilarious look at Nazi Germany. It’s an interesting time piece as the war is winding down, but the effort is still in full swing. We get to see a journey of discovery, hope and bravery through the perspective of a young boy.
Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) is dedicated to the cause, and our story begins by following him into a local training camp. Things don’t go well, and he ends up placed at home for awhile. It’s also worth noting that he’s got an imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi) who is absolutely hilarious.
This weird imaginary friend is a neat look at the control of this regime, while also being a great satire take on the historical figure. Moving past that, the majority of this is about someone questioning what they’ve been told, and the sorrows of dealing with a rather dark part in history.
There are others in this, an amazing performance of a local Captain Klenzendorf who is played by Sam Rockwell. Seriously, what an addition to this roster as he’s both funny and really has a lot of heart as well. He’s joined by a close pal Finkel (Alfie Allen) who also brings some laughs and surprisingly Fraulein Rahm (Rebel Wilson). I’ve never been a fan of her work, but she’s solid and brings some laughs in this one.
I generally loved how serious this was, but how it was also aiming to provide some joy through laughter as well. I actually would have desired the opening camp section to be a bit longer, as it felt like the true comedic part of this as it did get very dark as things continued. Also, a mention to Stephen Merchant who has a fun smaller role in this.
This is well shot, and uses a very selective collection of areas to tell the story. The balance of music and what’s going on is excellent, some true highlights there. It was bleak, but still had a sense of happiness to it all. That aspect largely came from Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) who acted as the mother of Jojo, she had an interesting way of looking at the situation. It’s a stacked cast, and that really helped in delivering this perfectly well. It came together very well, good pacing and of course many funny moments along the way.
Jojo Rabbit is a hilarious, yet insanely bleak and emotional look at one boy dealing with a dark part of history. I mean, he’s not alone as he’s got a close group of friends and one insanely crazy pal in the form of Hitler. It’s a shocking concept, but they nail it and this film really does hit the heavy themes well.
You’ll find some of this funny, and still be shocked just a little later on. It was surprising, and certainly something different. I’m not sure everyone will love the dark humor, but I thought it was great. This is a special film as it deals with a bad time in a humorous way, while still making it clear that things weren’t going well for anyone involved in this situation.
There were excellent performances in this, and despite being young Jojo delivered. Waititi was just straight up hilarious in his over the top Hitler and Rockwell absolutely nailed his character. It might not seem like it at first, but give it time as there’s more to that character than one might anticipate.
Jojo Rabbit Review at Theater with Standard Viewing