“Jojo Rabbit” is directed by Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, The Hunt For the Wilderpeople), who also plays the character of Adolf Hitler in this movie. Alongside Waititi, the film stars Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen, and Sam Rockwell. This film is about a young boy living in Nazi Germany by the name of Jojo. We see him at the start of the movie, trying to become part of Hitler’s force. However, he is eventually revealed to be wimpy compared to those around him, which partially inspires the titular nickname “Jojo Rabbit.” The film also explores Jojo’s life at home, when he eventually finds himself in a situation where he is living with an enemy of many Nazi Germans, a Jew.
I have not seen much of Taika Waititi’s work. Admittedly, as much as it makes me look like a bad moviegoer, the only film of his (specifically, the ones he hasn’t had an acting role in) I managed to see happens to be “Thor: Ragnarok.” Judging from that, Waititi definitely has his own style when it comes to his movies. Granted, judging from the fact that “Thor: Ragnarok” is a Marvel movie, it follows a lot of the beats to fulfill the requirements of what makes one of those films possible. If you ask me, I think “Thor: Ragnarok” is almost the most overrated Marvel movie. It’s good, but I really think they should have toned down on the humor, and the vibe should have fit with a lot of the dark ideas the movie seemed to have going for it. I mean, THE CITY OF ASGARD IS IN DEEP S*IT! Now that “Ragnarok” is in the past, Waititi went on to direct this film, which if I had to be honest, is better than “Thor: Ragnarok.”
Now that I had a week to think about “Jojo Rabbit,” I just realized that this film and “Ragnarok” manage to have something kinda sorta in common that I could not quite grasp at first. Both of them feel like parodies. Granted, “Jojo Rabbit” IS a parody, but that’s not the point. When I watched “Thor: Ragnarok,” I was not able to appreciate the humor that they were trying to hammer inside my head. I thought it was quite unnecessary. But there are various parts of “Thor: Ragnarok,” and I won’t get into them, that might as well be part of a rather effective big budget “Saturday Night Live” sketch. I have not gone back into the past to view Waititi’s earlier work, but it does make me curious as to what he has up his sleeve in the future. How far will he go with the humor? If he goes on to direct “Thor: Love and Thunder,” is he going to make it a pure comedy? I don’t know, but it would at least be interesting to see.
And speaking of long, deep thoughts, this movie managed to do something quite extraordinary and rather unexpected. Once again, this is a parody film. Keep that in mind. But Nazism is one of the most serious subjects that one could talk about or put in a motion picture. As someone who knows the Nazis were objectively evil, I cannot help but point out that this film made Nazis look fun. Based on pure entertainment value, I wouldn’t say that’s an entirely bad thing. I don’t mean any offense when I say this, but between Hitler, a book burning scene, and a few funny moments here and there, “Jojo Rabbit” managed to surprise me immensely.
Keep in mind, for those of you who are thinking this movie is about Hitler, guess what? It’s not. Adolf Hitler in this movie plays an important role, but if you are expecting this to be a movie about Hitler, you MIGHT be disappointed. Personally, the real concept behind this movie is one that I would love to shout from the rooftops. As mentioned, this movie is about a young kid, who goes by the name Jojo. There are various scenes in the film where Hitler appears, but each time, it’s all a figment of Jojo’s imagination. Basically, Adolf Hitler in this film is Jojo’s imaginary friend.
Staying on the topic of Hitler, Taika Waititi does a really good job at playing him. The movie also somehow did a good job at making him a charming, relatable character. One of the first scenes where I see him talking to Jojo, he talks about how people made fun of him in the past. He then advises Jojo to “Be the rabbit,” which is a suggestion to take a nickname that is seemingly derogatory, but use it to make yourself a better human being.
I will also say that the kid who plays Jojo, otherwise known as Roman Griffin Davis, did a pretty good job. For the record, as I write this review, I have looked at both his Wikipedia page and his IMDb page. According to both sources, “Jojo Rabbit” is the dude’s only acting credit. The only other piece of media, at least according to IMDb, featuring Roman Griffin Davis in some way, shape, or form is an episode of “Entertainment Tonight Canada.” I am not sure how much training or practice Jojo had before taking on this film, but for a first time performance, this was nothing short of a job well done. Personally, despite being a actor of his particular experience level and age range, this didn’t feel like a first time performance, which may be the best compliment I can give.
Overall, the cast of “Jojo Rabbit” completely stands out in the best possible way. Again, I mentioned that despite the evils of Nazism, certain elements of the film made it look like a party, which made the final product particularly interesting. This is why I liked the performance from Rebel Wilson’s character, which I’m glad to say because if you know me in real life, I am not that big of a fan of her. To be honest, her acting job in “Jojo Rabbit” may be the first likable performance I have seen from her. This may be the first movie I liked featuring her too. “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” comes close, but it just misses the mark.
I think one of the best parts of the movie, even though it ended up going in a direction I did not think it was going to go, is the screenplay. When I saw this film being marketed, I thought it was going to be a full-on satire. Imagine “Spaceballs” but with Nazis. And in a way, I kind of got that, the movie wasn’t as funny as I was originally anticipating it to be. That’s a small problem of mine, but the movie also has a serious plot to it that I can kind of get behind. There is a scene, about two thirds of the way through the movie, that has an enormous amount of tension that I really dug. When I walked into “Jojo Rabbit” I was expecting to laugh myself to death. I cannot say I did that. Instead, this movie managed to bring a surprising smile to my face. I felt utterly alive.
In the end, I had a good old time with “Jojo Rabbit.” It’s probably not the gutbuster I was expecting it to be, but it is still a damn good couple of hours. This is a movie that manages to make Nazis look fun, while also reminding me of their evils and what terrible things they have done. The movie kind of concludes on a surprisingly less than pleasant note. I say that because this film starts out with a clear humorous vibe. It’s kind of wacky and silly overall. Is it perfect? I wouldn’t say so, there are some minor issues. But I think there is enough in the film for me to think to myself that I’d want to watch it again. I’m going to give “Jojo Rabbit” an 8/10. Thanks for reading this review! My next review is gonna be up very soon, which is for the new Amazon movie “Honey Boy.” I was just recently at a free screening at a local arthouse theater for the film, so I will have my thoughts on that very soon. Also, I just saw a new movie this weekend at my local IMAX, specifically James Mangold’s “Ford v Ferrari.” A review for that will soon hit the interwebs, and I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts on it. If you want to see my thoughts on either of these movies, or other content from the Movie Reviewing Moron, be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account! If you are on Facebook, be sure to check out my page and give it a like, it really helps me out! I want to know, did you see “Jojo Rabbit?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a movie that you went to see, not to mention liked, that you were expecting to be funny, but turned out to be serious? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!