review by Bobby Blakey
Director Taika Waititi is one of the more unique voices out there today. Outside of his excellent chapter in the MCU with Thor: Ragnarok, he has brought us great films like Hunt For The Wilderpeople and What we Do In The Shadows. Now he is bringing his unique style to World War II with Jojo Rabbit starring Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Thomasin McKenzie, Roman Griffin Davis and Taika Waititi himself taking on the role of Hitler. Could this film offer some laughs at the horrors of the war or will it fall like the Third Reich?
Jojo Rabbit follows a lonely German boy during World War II whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, Jojo must confront his blind nationalism. Being a fan of Waititi and the cast I was already ready for a great film, but got something more than I expected. The film plays up as a comedic satire of this time and the German people which isn’t usually the back drop of something you would assume is all that funny. He has crafted a film that does just that throughout with most of the heavy laughs early in the film before it shifts tone to something a bit more dramatic and heartbreaking at times.
I loved this film and everyone in it knocks it out of the park. While the big names are all great its two of the younger stars that steal the show. The biggest weight is on the shoulders of Roman Griffin Davis as Jojo and he does a great job bringing lots of heart and emotion to the role. You believe his dedication to Hitler and passion to be a Nazi soldier while still wanting to see things go well for him. Even more so was his best friend Yorki played geniusly by Archie Yates. He doesn’t get near enough screen time, but steals every scene he is in. The kid is a ball of fun and I cannot wait to see where he goes from here.
Johansson probably brings more to the film outside of Jojo with having to be the life line to him as his mother. She has many layers that makes her an interesting character and her performance is superb. Wilson and Rockwell are as good as ever with both bringing the laughs like only they can. Taking on multiple duties Waititi also plays an imaginary version of Hitler and is hilariously perfect. Everything about this movie just works even when it shouldn’t. In the latter half of the film it gets pretty heavy reminding you of the subject and time we are dealing with.
This is where the film really cements its brilliance blending in the horrific tragedies of the war and the comedy front and center. I never would have expected that anyone could have taken this time and subject and make a successful comedy in this tone but Waititi has once again shown his brilliance and delivered on every level.
In addition to the film this release offers up bonus content including deleted scenes, outtakes, commentary, trailer, and a featurette taking you behind bringing this film to life. Grab your copy of Jojo Rabbit when it hits digital February 4th and then on 4K Ultra, Blu-ray and DVD on February 18th from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.