Jojo Rabbit (2019): A masterclass in comedy

Cast: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Watiti, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen, Stephen Merchant and Archie Yates

Plot Summary: The film follows 10-year-old Jojo on a Nazi youth training weekend, but when Jojo injures himself he needs to go home where he makes a shocking discovery hidden in the wall… A Jew, called Elsa who has been taken in by Jojo’s mother Rosie. Jojo then looks to his imaginary friend for advice on the matter. Oh, and his imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler.

Jojo Rabbit is Taika Watiti at his absolute best, not only is the writing stellar, but the direction and his portrayal of Jojo’s imaginary friend Adolf Hitler leave this feel good comedy as a hilarious and at times thought provoking film. The film is a rare example of a movie that works on nearly every level. Characters, scenes, costumes and jokes all seem well thought out and work incredibly well to make the film well worth multiple viewings.

The biggest praise needs to go to Roman Griffin Davis who carries the whole movie from start to finish with occasional help from Taika Waititi’s goofy portrayal of Adolf Hitler, Scarlett Johansson’s absolutely beautiful portrayal of JoJo’s mother Rosie who brings a lot of heart and soul to the film and of course we have Thomasin McKenzie as Elsa, the Jewish girl in the wall. All of the characters seem fully realised and perfectly fitting in the world of the film. Not only are the main cast great, but we also have a stellar supporting cast of Sam Rockwell’s Captain Klenzendorf and Alfie Allen’s Finkel who both play flamboyant leaders of the Nazi youth program along with Rebel Wilson’s Fraulein Rahm. The best of the supporting cast though comes in the forms of Stephen Merchant’s Deertz who has a hilarious scene at Jojo’s house about sixty percent through the film and Archie Yates’ Yoki who brings light to every scene he is in and does it so adorably.

The cinematography and production design in this film is colourful and bright from JoJo’s house, which is vibrant yellow, blue and green to houses outside which radiate colour. Although there are scenes when the movie goes darker and the film feels devoid of colour, mostly the last 20 minutes.

Another note on Jojo Rabbit is the comedic tone which works throughout thanks to Taika Waititi’s Hitler and Roman Griffin Davis’ Jojo. But, when the film does take a darker tone, it can be jarring. That can be good, because it does show the horror of the Nazi regime and give a child’s perspective even in a hyper stylised world. But it can also feel like a breakneck way of changing from happy, joking Nazi Germany to dark, drab and depressing Nazi Germany. Although, when it does go darker, those scenes still tend to be great at making the audience feel sad, but it never feels like we are made to feel sympathy for the Nazi’s or the Nazi party, they are the butt of the joke.

In conclusion, Jojo Rabbit is an amazing comedy film, the focus on characters and production design give the film a colourful and joyful feeling while also being able to hit us with at time breakneck, but overall still great darker and melancholic scenes which show the horror and absurdity of the Nazi regime and how blind people were to Adolf Hitler’s charismatic speeches which Taika Watiti emulates extremely well as Jojo’s imaginary friend.

9/10 – This Nazi Germany comedy is executed amazingly by Taika Waititi. Definitely worth seeing!

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