A brilliant anti-hate satire bringing Taika Waititi’s signature blend of humour and pathos to the one place off-limits, managing to *still* bravely find gags and a coming-of-age morality tale in subversive, vibrant, & mega-stylish fashion. 7.6/10.
Plot Synopsis: Jojo is a lonely German boy who discovers that his single mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic. Aided only by his imaginary friend — Adolf Hitler — Jojo must confront his blind nationalism as World War II continues to rage on.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
WWDITS. Thor: Ragnarok. Hunt For The Wilder People. Taika Waititi Is Back.
What We Do In The Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok, Hunt For The Wilder People, Jojo Rabbit. Taika Waititi is back with his signature blend of humour, pathos, and batsh*t imaginativeness that’s skyrocketed him in just a few years to the top tier of the modern directorial landscape. This time going to Nazi Germany and WWII to analyze and find gags in the darkest of all genocides; on paper, a sacrilegious idea that – somehow through fantastic screenwriting prowess and filmmaking skill – manages to not only work, but do so gloriously. A brilliant anti-hate satire bringing Taika Waititi’s signature blend of humour and pathos to the one place off-limits, managing to *still* bravely find gags and a morality/coming-of-age/patriotism-naïve tale in subversive, vibrant, stylish fashion, Jojo Rabbit is one of the best films of 2019.
The Childhood Lens & Coming-Of-Age Story Prism To View A Mid-WWII Nazi Germany
Jojo Rabbit’s setting of 1940’s Nazi Germany in the midst of WWII is the darkest to set a coming-of-age story wherein your main character is only ten years old, but that’s the bold script decision Merchant & Waititi have settled on. And it pays off in spades: the childhood lens allows the film to use edge and visceral shock factor seeing innocent kids being taught to lie, murder, and steal; xenophobic hatred; poisoning of the souls before our very eyes so much so that Jojo’s conscience-personified is warped enough to actually be the anti-Christ of conscience: Adolf Hitler. The character development able to be parlayed by its screenwriting premise is dazzling, wherein Jojo is transformed across the brisk 1hr45min timeframe from diehard-Nazi fanatic bleeding genocidal misplaced-patriotism to view its ghastly horror befriending and falling in love with the person he’s internalized to hate: a Jew, and watch his mother be hanged in public square for helping a child escape certain death in the most grueling ways imaginable. This is, without question, CLC’s pick for Best Original Screenplay for the 92nd Academy Awards by its beautiful character development, ballsy plot and concept choice, careful skill in dodging the veritable sea of landmines that accompany a film like this, horror, depth, grief, and most of all: humour.
Taika Waititi’s Brilliant Comedic Anti-Hitler, Tons Of Hilarious/Intelligent Gags, & All To Be Found In A Place They Should *Not* Work
This film should not have worked. If you went up to 10 people on the street and pitched this concept, a guaranteed 10 out of 10 would have said no. I would argue that few filmmakers in the modern canvas have such a grip over comedic stylings to make an anti-hate satire comedy set in Nazi Germany work, but that’s what Stephen Merchant of The Office fame and Taika Waititi have achieved here. I cannot describe the inimitable joy of Waititi’s self-cameoing role as Hitler himself – light, whimsical, silly, and everything Hitler shouldn’t be for one of the most breathtakingly funny dichotomies and anti-portrayals on the market. The whole film manages to yield every ounce of comedy to be found in this time period beautifully, in everything from making fun of their hip-heavy uniforms, how they personify Jews as the reason for all their problems like cheating husbands/drinking/gambling (not sure that’s how it works..), water-warfare training in a swimming pool, boot-camps training kids to make swastikas with their hands on-command, and inability to even raise their hands or enter a room without ‘Heil Hitler’-ing everyone in the room. Brilliant.
The Cinematography & Score
Giacchino and Mihai Mălaimare Jr. have struck gold with the cinematography and score of Jojo Rabbit, playing up its fun atmosphere in the anti-fun capital and whimsical child-like innocence with vibrance and warm tonality juxtaposing ghastly horror. Giacchino’s soundscape, balancing everything from minor-keyed orchestral ballads to wompy trumpets to even accordion playing off its setting’s history tonally makes for a distinctly-Germand transportive accompaniment only bolstered by an intricate use of quick-cut successions, snappy editing, and inventive shot/slo-mo constructions in cinematography by Mălaimare Jr. visually. The film bleeds energy and vivacity/zest in its beaming positivity and caprice – one of the most peculiar yet endearing combinations this year, only bolstered by its period-authentic set pieces & uniform portrayals. Towards the end, there are even some fantastic battle-scene shots and background placement to bring an exciting battlefield flair and final realization that all this violence is wrong for Jojo to come full-circle in character development.
A Film The World Desperately Needs, But Might Not Be Ready For Quite Yet
Flaws in Jojo Rabbit are few, yet the biggest one is: it obviously won’t be to everyone’s tastes. While the film is certainly not bad or disrespectful in intent or purpose, the sheer concept of making a comedy film about the darkest time in human history and unconscionable tragedy of millions of lives lost in genocide is a tough sell to anyone with history or ancestry shaken by the cause. This is exacerbated by a modern societal trend of fashionable outrage, catalyzed by ease-of-access and immediacy of technology to instantly publish anything that rubs you thhe wrong way without serious introspection or analysis of what it’s trying to say beforehand. The film is condemning Nazi Germany and the inhuman depths of their inexcusable acts, through a comedic lens that doesn’t intrude or misappropriate anything, sometimes we have to learn to laugh as well as cry. The film makes the point that even the lowest of us – the world’s biggest Nazi – can be redeemed and learn to love again overcoming the hate deep in his bones, for a warm, fuzzy, funny tour-de-force of stylistically-fizzy cinema better than most offerings this year. The only real thing I found to be non-effective was its ending shot itself being Ragnarok-reminiscent cheesiness in a dance-off leaving the film’s big romance angle (also ill-scripted at such a large age difference to make it a bit weird when the two falling in love and running off into the proverbial or literal sunset would’ve been the antithesizing brilliant ending coming full-circle the film deserved.
The Opposite Of Schindler’s List
A Brilliant Anti-Hate Satire & Comedy Set In The One Place Off-Limits
Overall, Jojo Rabbit is an absolutely brilliant film – as well as one the world needs. An anti-hate satire bringing Taika Waititi’s signature blend of humour and pathos to the one place off-limits, managing to *still* bravely find gags and a morality/coming-of-age/patriotism-naïve tale in subversive, vibrant, stylish fashion, Jojo Rabbit is one of the best films of 2019. This is a movie that should not – nay, could not – have worked in today’s landscape by concept under most other modern filmmakers today, but Waititi and Merchant have (through trial-and-error and painstaking practice by their filmographies) done it. Like Jojo getting his name by refusing to kill the rabbit out of instinctive knowledge it’s wrong, I hope the general public will recognize the subversive, beaming accomplishment of this modern display of love and kitsch.
Official CLC Score: 7.6/10