Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence & content that may disturb
Roman Griffin Davis as Jojo “Rabbit” Betzler
Thomasin McKenzie as Elsa Korr
Taika Waititi as Adolf Hitler
Rebel Wilson as Fräulein Rahm
Stephen Merchant as Captain Deertz
Alfie Allen as Finkel
Sam Rockwell as Captain Klenzendorf
Scarlett Johansson as Rosie Betzler
Archie Yates as Yorki
Director: Taika Waititi
Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) is a lonely German boy who discovers that his single mother is hiding a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. Aided only by his imaginary friend — Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi) — Jojo must confront his blind nationalism as World War II continues to rage on.
Jojo Rabbit was one of my most anticipated movies of 2019. I like Taika Waititi’s movies and so I’m always interested in what he’d do next, even with a premise as strange as this one (of course it definitely seemed like something he’d be able to pull off). The cast is also great with the likes of Waititi, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell and more involved, so naturally I was looking forward to it. I really liked Jojo Rabbit, and so far I’d say that it’s my favourite of Waititi’s movies.
Jojo Rabbit is a mix of comedy and drama, mostly the former. It’s also a coming of age movie, albeit a very unconventional one. Taika wrote the script, and you can definitely tell that this is one of his movies, so it’s his type of unique comedy throughout. If you’ve watched his other movies (and I mean Boy, What we Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople, not just Thor Ragnarok) and you really like them, I’m pretty sure you’ll vibe with Jojo Rabbit as well. If you just can’t get into them however, you’re probably not going to be able to get into his latest movie either. Personally, it worked for me, and basically all the jokes hit for me. On top of that, a lot of the movie is absurd and it’s meant to be that, with this movie being a satire after all. With that said, when the does movie gets serious and emotional, it does deliver. It doesn’t shy away from the seriousness of it at points, especially towards the last third of the movie. With it being a movie about Nazis and Hitler, there’s no way it’s going to stay funny all the way through. Despite being hilarious and over the top, Jojo Rabbit doesn’t forget what it is, a anti-war and anti-hate satire, and there’s a lot of heart behind the movie. Honestly for a movie that could be incredibly absurd, it really is an achievement that Taika managed to pull this off because it’s no easy task balancing it all out. I know that some people might be complaining that for whatever reason it’s not a scathing enough condemnation of fascism, I can assure you that the movie makes it clear that Nazis are bad.
The cast all bring their A game to their performances. I believe this is Roman Griffin Davis’s first performance, and for a big screen debut, he’s great in the lead role. He’s very convincing as this 10 year old boy who also just really wants to be a Nazi, who of course goes through some changes over the course of the movie. So much of this movie is riding on the actor working, and he’s in almost all of the scenes of the movie. He brings the emotion, comedy, self seriousness and innocence that this character needed to have, and Griffin Davis definitely delivered that perfectly. Honestly one of the best child performances I’ve seen. Equally as great was Thomasin McKenzie, the Jewish girl hiding in the attic, she really was outstanding and a highlight from the cast. She and Davis share great chemistry together. Of course when it comes to performances of the movie (and the movie in general), a lot of people will be talking about Taika Waititi as Jojo’s imaginary friend version of Adolf Hitler, played here as a complete buffoon and is hilarious. He’s not really the focus of the movie but he definitely steals the scenes whenever he’s present. Scarlett Johansson gives one of her best performances in a while as Jojo’s mother, Sam Rockwell as usual is great whenever he’s on screen. Other actors like Alfie Allen, Rebel Wilson and Stephen Merchant play their roles well. Archie Yates also deserves a mention as Jojo’s friend who’s hilarious whenever he’s on screen.
Taika Waititi’s direction is great as usual. The cinematography is stunning, and at a lot of points feels very much like a Moonrise Kingdom/Wes Anderson movie. Like with the script, the direction for the dramatic and comedic scenes are both played out very well. It has stylistically some larger than life moments straight from a child’s perspective, as well as a couple moments appropriately planted in realism.
With a fantastic cast, and Taika Waititi’s great writing and direction, Jojo Rabbit is one of my favourite movies of the year. It’s a hilarious and entertaining yet emotional and heartfelt movie that successfully balances its tone out well, managing to pull off its absurd premise. Definitely worth a watch.