Review: Jojo Rabbit (2019)

Director/Screenwriter: Taika Waititi
Starring: Roman Griffin Davis, Scarlett johansson, Thomas McKenzie, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson
Genres: Comedy, War, Drama
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for mature thematic content, some disturbing images, violence, and language
Theatrical Release Date: 11/8/19 (Wide)
Where to Watch: HBO Now
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%

I had heard many things about Taika Waititi’s latest which, like Thor: Ragnarok and others, he not only directed but stars in — this time, as the one and only Adolf Hitler, but as an imaginary friend of 10-year-old Nazi fanatic Jojo (newcomer Roman Griffin Davis).

Jojo’s mother (Scarlett Johansson) is the most compassionate person in the movie, and one who makes a huge difference in only a handful of scenes. Jojo’s world (and worldviews) change drastically when he discovers that his mother is hiding a Jewish teenager (Thomasin McKenzie) in their house.

The interactions between Davis and McKenzie are among the best in the movie, which attempts to merge humor and satire with real, honest tragedy and situations — and it is only mildly successful in that regard. The satirical observations of Naziism, Germany, and Hitler are very sharp and smart; who’d have thought that a movie about Nazis could be so funny?

But then, when the dramatic tonal shifts occur, it isn’t always successful. I didn’t shed one tear, even though I felt that I should have, and I am someone who cries easily at movies. And, yet, the ending had me smiling and cheery and glad for the experience of this movie.

Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, and Stephen Merchant all have very memorable small roles (Waititi is funny too), and Johansson is really good when she’s on screen, but it is Davis and McKenzie who carry this film. They are extraordinary, and as the lead, Davis is more than capable of handling the many, mixed emotions of this film on his shoulders. He is a very gifted young actor, and I can’t wait to see what else he does.

In regards to the German accents — well, not everyone’s is good, which can be a bit distracting at times, but it’s not that important.