• James Rutherford

'Jojo Rabbit': An Outlandish and Wildly Entertaining World War II Comedy-Drama


Movie poster for the 2019 film Jojo Rabbit starring Taika Waititi

Jojo Rabbit (2019) is an outlandish and wildly entertaining World War II comedy-drama about a young German boy named Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) and his trusted imaginary friend—a cartoonish likeness of Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi). A fervent devotee of The Third Reich and Nazi idealism, Jojo fabricates Hitler's likeness while grieving the departure of his father, much to the chagrin of his loving mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson).


Residing in the fictional city of Falkenheim, Germany circa 1944-45, Jojo and Rosie enjoy a seemingly comfortable lifestyle despite the ongoing war—though it is revealed that Rosie furtively carries on as a member of the German resistance. Her greatest act of defiance involves the concealment of a young Jewish girl named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) secretly within the walls of her home, entirely unbeknownst to Jojo. Upon discovering Elsa, Jojo is horrified that someone from a supposedly nefarious group such as the Jews would reside in his home, yet engages in a series of darkly comic interchanges with the young rebel that slowly disentangle his egregious misconceptions. Jojo's awakening corresponds with the final days of armed conflict, as Allied and Soviet forces lay siege to the city and he is faced to confront his own personal reckoning.


Written and directed by Kiwi phenom Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) and based on the novel "Caging Skies" Christine Leunens, Jojo Rabbit is a uniquely eccentric parody of fascism and tyranny. Young Davis is extraordinary as the supremely idealistic yet woefully naive adolescent whose enlightenment is at the heart of the storyline's progression. Perfectly balancing levity and pathos, Waititi has delivered a one-of-a-kind statement on the absurdity of warfare through a child’s entirely impressionable eyes.

 

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