Rating (4.5 out of 5)
Summary: What a great wee film this is. First, I laughed constantly through this film. Credit to Taika Waititi, who acted, directed, and wrote for presenting a profoundly serious subject and interlacing humor to present the material. He cleverly demonstrates all facets of Germans, good and bad and in between. The movie does have its moments of sadness and tension, which were expertly executed. Most importantly I wanted to see how this movie ended and was thoroughly satisfied with the end. In many ways, I know his sounds weird but reflecting back on this movie, it feels similar to “The Apartment” (if you are curious about the similarity read below).
Plot: JoJo (Roman Griffin Davis) is a 10-year-old living in Nazi Germany and his imaginary friend is the Fuhrer (Taika Waititi). One day JoJo discovers a young Jewish girl Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) hidden in the walls of his house. Is JoJo a good Nazi or a good person?
Details: I thought all the actors were fantastic. I am always amazed when directors can extract so much from young actors. Not usually a fan of Sam Rockwell and always consider his performances to be overrated, but thought he was spectacular here. A pleasure to watch Scarlett Johansson act in a movie that didn’t include excessive action and violence. You can forget that she is a good actress. This is the second film where I have had the pleasure of watch Thomasin McKenzie and after both performances, I expect to see more of her in the future.
I read an article that described how we as readers seek articles or news supporting our views and ignore articles that do not. I think this thought process applies to movies. Dealing head-on with the current undertone of nationalism that is spreading globally in the world today can be off-putting and definitely a movie of this type would be ignored if an individual supported nationalism. Only those who see nationalism as a problem will view this movie. The liberal nation will pat themselves on the back. However, only liberals will watch the movie, and nothing will change.
The beauty of this film is by incorporating silly humor and a visually pleasing approach, “JoJo Rabbit” remains a watchable film for all viewers. While establishing a parallel with our society today, the parallel doesn’t consume the film and doesn’t repel those who may be open to change. So that nationalist person you may fear, might go to the theater and watch this film. And then, just maybe, that individual who only sees positives to nationalism may see some of the negatives.
Wholly, I am shocked that a movie like “JoJo Rabbit” has the same Metacritic score as “Zombieland: Doubletap”. While I enjoyed “Doubletap”, “JoJo Rabbit” is significantly better, never mind more original. One of the reasons I started writing a blog was because I thought original films like “JoJo Rabbit” were overlooked, and mindless repeats were rated highly.
Why “JoJo Rabbit” is like “The Apartment”?
The first similarity is the main characters are both focused on succeeding based on conforming to what their society has laid out? Success as a Nazi or in business. The main characters are well on track to acheive their goal until a situation arises and they meet a girl. The girl forces the main characters to face the true expense of conforming. Give-up the Jew to conform or sell your soul for the promotion? Each decision forces the individual to question their reality and decide who they want to be.
Both movies contain intense moments when we can lose the female character. In “JoJo Rabbit” we have the scene when the Gestapo arrives and interrogates them. In “The Apartment”, the female character tries to commit suicide. Both are pivotal moments for the male character.
Both movies maintained a steady set of humor throughout the movie. The humor is used to reset the film after a tense period in the film. This style, I believe helps the audience transition from scene to scene.
Of course, the main characters in both films fall in love with the girl, which is the common element. Even the end felt similar: JoJo Rabbit, the couple do a little dance outside and The Apartment the couple play cards.