Jojo Rabbit

The latest from Taika Waititi, the brilliant director of What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and Thor: Ragnarok, starts off with a bright, Wes Andersonian whimsiness: Young Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) joyously bounces about at summer camp, having the time of his life as he frolics and laughs with his second-best friend Yorki (Archie Yates) and his first-best friend, the imaginary Adolf (Waititi). Just one thing: Jojo’s at Hitler Youth camp—their campfire activities include burning books—Adolf is Adolf Hitler, and World War II is winding down, with Germany not doing so great. Once he’s home after an unfortunate grenade incident, the tiny, fanatical Nazi Jojo (“I’m massively into swastikas, so I think that’s a pretty good sign”) clashes with his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johnansson) and tries to learn how to spot “filthy Jews” by quizzing disgraced Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell), all while getting a whole lot of dubious advice from his wacky pal Adolf. (“Heil me, little man!”) Both because of and in spite of its inherent shock value, Jojo Rabbit—based on a book by Christine Leunens—is just as clever and hilarious as Waititi’s other movies, but as it progresses, the story taps into a rich vein of gut-twisting melancholy. (“What did they do?” Jojo asks Rosie as they pass a line of corpses hanging in the town square. “What they could,” she says.) There’s more to the complicated Jojo Rabbit than first appears, and only a director as committed, inventive, and life-affirmingly good-hearted as Waititi would even have a chance of pulling it off. He does.

by Erik Henriksen
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Trailer

Credits
Director
Taika Waititi
Cast
Scarlett Johansson, Thomasin McKenzie, Roman Griffin Davis