Film Review – Jojo Rabbit (2019)

Title – Jojo Rabbit (2019)

Director – Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok)

Cast – Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi, Scarlet Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen, Stephen Merchant

Plot – During the tail end of World War 2, young German boy and budding Nazi Jojo (Davis) and his imaginary friend Hitler (Waititi) navigate a dangerous time period for the regime, made all the more complicated by the appearance of fellow child and Jewish girl Elsa (McKenzie).

“I am going home to my mother. I need a cuddle” 

Review by Eddie on 20/01/2020

One of the most well-liked and instantly recognizable filmmakers working today, New Zealand director Taika Waititi continues to work off the foundation of coming of age stories his been working from since his under-seen Boy and his breakout success The Hunt for the Wilderpeople with one of this award’s seasons most original offerings, Jojo Rabbit.

Adapted and changed quite substantially from Christine Leunens novel, Rabbit is one of the darkest coming of age comedies to come our way in some time as Waititi tells the story of Roman Griffin Davis young German boy nicknamed Jojo  who is in deep with the Nazi machine and even more so with his imaginary best friend that just so happens to be Adolf Hitler.

As usual Waititi isn’t afraid to tackle some heavy subject matters and Rabbit is filled to the brim with some unfortunately jarring moments where you’re in a surreal situation one minute then a seriously harsh/depressing one the next, meaning his newest outing is often the victim of a tone and pace that doesn’t always gel.

It’s not to say Rabbit isn’t a high quality film, Waititi as we’ve come to expect knows his way around an impressive set piece and shot set-up and Rabbit looks fantastic throughout as we follow Jojo on his adventure and his script work is wonderfully played out by an all-star cast including a scene stealing Sam Rockwell and some above average work by Scarlett Johansson as Jojo’s mother Rosie and Rebel Wilson as keen Nazi Fraulein Rahm.

Moving along at a brisk pace, that at times would’ve benefited from a little more composure, Waititi and his able gang of superstars are often overshadowed by a breakout performance from Davis who excels as Jojo, while his partner in crime Thomasin McKenzie as Jewish hideaway Elsa is as good as she was in her lauded turn in Leave No Trace.

It could be argued that Waititi is the best director of children and teenagers working today, with Rabbit further establishing the filmmaker in this area as his young performers impressively navigate a narrative that takes it’s audience on an increasingly intense ride that morphs further into dramatic territory as its buffoonery gives way to a fairly confronting end game, one that shows us once more that the World War 2 era still has many stories yet to tell.

Despite all its wins and successful plays, you can’t help but feel as though this audience pleasing favourite doesn’t quite reach it’s full potential even if on current form it appears as though Waititi is incapable of making a genuinely poor film.

Final Say –

Eminently watchable and filled with some great individual scenes and performances, Jojo Rabbit is another solid entry into the Taika Waititi filmography but one that is unlikely to end up ranking amongst one of his best as it tries to please too many genre masters.

3 1/2 carelessly thrown grenades out of 5

5 responses to “Film Review – Jojo Rabbit (2019)

  1. I watched this movie and loved it. I have seen criticism of this movie saying it is Nazi apologist movie, but I find it all together real. Like, how can children know what is happening in concentration camps and such. They can only know what they hear and they only thing they hear is propaganda.

    I need to read the book that this movie is based on.

    • I believe the film is very different from the source material but would be interesting to see how it compares.
      I really enjoyed the film, just found the very big gap between humor and heart didn’t always gel perfectly.

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