JOJO RABBIT is one of those movies that we at SOUTH WALES LIFE have been waiting all year for. We’d heard a lot about it from its early production days and then when it finally had its ‘award & festival screenings.’ This comedy about Germany, Hitler and the war is not only funny but has real heart too. It’s the first time, in a long time, that I’ve actually felt the urge to applaud at the end of the movie – I didn’t by the way.
This goofy movie is as stupidly crazy as the trailers would have you believe, until it isn’t. Saying too much more would give away crucial plot twists. If I have one criticism it’s that this ‘Hitler Comedy’ could have easily pushed the barriers even further. It walks a very fine line on occasions but always stays on the right side and never lets the Nazis get away with it.
So what’s it all about?
Writer director Taika Waititi, the guy behind Marvel classic, Thor: Ragnarok and the Vampire series ‘What We Do In The Shadows, brings his unique brand of humour to the movie. JOJO RABBIT is a World War II satire that follows a German boy (Roman Griffin Davis) who discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. To make matters more complicated, JoJo has an imaginary friend who happens to be Adolf Hitler himself, played brilliantly by Taika Waititi.
JOJO RABBIT is based on “Caging Skies,” a novel by Christine Leunens that is entirely serious. The movie however flips it on its head. Roman Griffin Davis is a really impressive young actor, with a manner and look that suits the style of the character perfectly.
Despite its heavy themes, the film never gives up on the comedy. In fact, I felt the humour helped balance out the harsh realities, making it feel all the more powerful. The bond between JoJo and Elsa, the Jewish girl he discovers his mother is hiding, feels genuine and what is at the emotional heart of this movie.
The cast is impressive with Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen and young Archie Yates who plays Yorki. He’s a real scene stealer and will break your heart – you have been warned.
JOJO RABBIT had a bit of a boost recently when it received a Screen Actor’s Guild nomination. Scarlett Johansson was nominated in that category as well for her performance in the movie. The SAG’s are a little indicator as to what could happen in the OSCARS, so who knows.
You will absolutely laugh out loud, but in the very next breath you’ll cry. Some critics love it and some really hate it, but whatever you think after seeing it, JOJO will be a hard one to shake off. With its mix of uneasy Mel Brooks-esque comedy and tear inducing sentiment, the film will be one to watch this awards season. It’s already picked up the coveted People’s Choice Award, so it is a strong contender for the big one next year.
There is one scene I would love to share with you, but won’t as it’s near the end and definitely a plot spoiler. You will not only laugh out loud but, like me, feel the urge to cheer enthusiastically at this key moment, it is fantastic.
So, JOJO RABBIT is a comedy about Nazis and yes, it is very, very funny. It is though deadly serious too and it seems that side hasn’t been overlooked by award committees. The soundtrack is immense. The songs you’ll know, the German versions you may not. They are worked beautifully into this gem of a movie.
This is a tricky subject and while some may say the realities of the Holocaust aren’t appropriate, the way the film threads this very difficult needle, brings heart and meaning to the story. It’s a brave film to make but it’s a piece of cinema which really speaks to the audience.
You are going to have to wait a little while longer before you get to see it, and we highly recommend that you do. JOJO RABBIT opens here on January 3rd.