Jojo Rabbit is a 2019 film directed by Taika Watiti, and starring Roman Griffin Davis and Taika Watiti. It follows a young boy growing up in nazi Germany with his imaginary friend, Hitler.
This film follows Jojo, a 10 year old hitler youth who is obsessed with the nazi cause, to the point where his imaginary best friend is Hitler. Ironically though, everyone around him is disillusioned with the war and against it. This includes Sam Rockwell as a gay nazi officer, and Scarlet Johansson as his mother who begins to hide a Jewish girl in her house. It’s this relationship that Jojo has with the Jewish girl Elsa that begins to rock his stalwart faith in the nazi cause.
This movie is very funny, sweet, and heartfelt. Taika Watiti is hilarious at times as Hitler, particularly with his line “you’re 10, start acting like it.” When discussing Jojo turning in the Jewish girl. Scarlet Johansen as Jojo’s mom is surprisingly great. She and Jojo have many heartfelt moments together, and their relationship feels very real. Additionally, Sam Rockwell as Captain K was perhaps my favorite part of the movie. He’s absolutely hilarious with both his negligence of Hitler youth under his care, as well as his gay relationship with Allie Allen’s character. His death is very emotional, and an amazing scene.
Jojo Rabbit also uses very smart quotes and music. Musicians I love like Ray Orbison and David Bowie have German versions of their songs heard throughout the film. Also, Taika uses quotes by the famed German poet Rainer Maria Rilke (who I’m actually named after,) to describe the relationship between Jojo and Elsa.
Jojo Rabbit however, can feel a bit manipulative and ponderous at times. I don’t mean that it has a bunch of long arduous dumb monologues like stalker, or stupid lines about society like Swiss Army Man. What I mean is that this movie tries to be about a lot of things. Brainwashing, children saving the world, and being antifascist are just the start of the themes exhibited in this film. And because Jojo Rabbit is so ambitious and goes in a lot of directions, it consequently doesn’t really get across any theme particularly well. In essence, it’s a master of none.
Despite it’s ambition with it’s over abundance and ambiguity of themes, Jojo Rabbit is still a very good film. It’s got great characters, it’s hilarious, and at times it’s very sweet. This film however, is polarizing, and those who aren’t familiar with Taika Watiti’s style of directing will certainly find this film bizarre. That being said, it deserves a watch, as it really is a special film.