Jojo Rabbit

 

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A bizarre hybrid of satire, farce and tragedy could only have come from a Kiwi-Czech-American co-production.

 
Jojo Rabbit

A funny Führer: Taika Waititi

 

Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit is not the first film to make fun of the Nazis. Jojo, a ten-year-old recruit of Hitler’s Youth, is nicknamed Rabbit because of his cowardice – his inability even to kill a rabbit for the Führer. But with the help of his imaginary friend – none other than a blustering Adolf Hitler played by the director – he does his best to toe the party line and learn to hate the Jews. Then he discovers that his beloved mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), is hiding a Jewish girl in the attic…

 

Jojo Rabbit is a strange mix in that on the one hand it is very naturalistic – filmed in the picturesque town of Ustek in the Czech Republic – but also wildly farcical, at times resembling a sort of Carry On Hitler. Sam Rockwell garners a few laughs as an irreverent Nazi captain of Jojo’s Hitler youth camp and the New Zealand actress Thomasin McKenzie (from Leave No Trace) is quietly affecting as the Jewish fugitive. As Jojo himself, 11-year-old newcomer Roman Griffin Davis lacks conviction and a certain spark, while Archie Yates as Jojo’s chubby best friend is frankly embarrassing. Sadly, the film has neither the confident cheek of Mel Brooks’ fictitious musical ‘Springtime for Hitler’ nor the harrowing satire of George Roy Hill’s Slaughterhouse-Five (1972).

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

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

 

Dir Taika Waititi, Pro Carthew Neal, Taika Waititi and Chelsea Winstanley, Screenplay Taika Waititi, Ph Mihai Mălaimare Jr, Pro Des Ra Vincent, Ed Tom Eagles, Music Michael Giacchino, Costumes Mayes C. Rubeo.

 

TSG Entertainment/Defender Films/Piki Films-20th Century Fox.

108 mins. New Zealand/Czech Republic/USA. 2020. Rel: 1 January 2019. Cert. 12A.