Jojo Rabbit Movie Review
Jojo Rabbit has proven to be surprisingly divisive: some have lauded it as one of the best movies of the year, while others, like me, saw something different, a dull, unfunny Nazi satire that only works in the rare times when it truly takes itself seriously.
There are things to like about this peculiar film from Taika Waititi. Young star Roman Griffin Davis, in his theatrical debut, is sensational as Jojo, perfectly cast for a reluctant Hitler Youth reject who discovers that a Jewish girl is living in his walls. Thomasin McKenzie, who was excellent in Leave No Trace, is also fiercely fantastic. The two have surprisingly strong chemistry, and the film is at its best when the two share scenes together.
But the young leads aside, there isn’t much to enjoy. Waititi plays an imaginary and upbeat Adolf Hitler, but if he was supposed to be funny (pretty sure he was) the gag doesn’t work. I zoned out in nearly every scene he was in, a shame considering that you’d think a silly Adolf Hitler played by a New Zealander would be the comedic highlight of a Nazi comedy. Further, Waititi doesn't take full advantage of his more experienced supporting cast; Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, and Rebel Wilson are all fine, but none make much of an impression.
A few moments land, such as when a gaggle of investigators arrive at the house primarily to repeat “Heil Hitler” countless times. But oddly, it’s the film’s more brutal and serious final act that works best, with Waititi dropping the attempt at laughs to show a disintegrating German war machine and the violence and death that results.
Sadly, you have to sit through the rest of the movie first, so by the time you get to the good stuff you simply don’t care.
There is a good movie somewhere buried just beneath the rubble that is Jojo Rabbit, but unfortunately Waititi fails to find the right satiric angle to take. What a disappointment.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.