“Jojo Rabbit” Delivers a Heartwarming Comedy on a Painful Subject


Jojo Rabbit is the latest film by actor and director Taika Waititi. Waititi made a breakthrough on the Hollywood scene after directing 2017’s wildly successful Thor: Ragnarok. Waititi brings a versatility not often seen on screen, with his films turning from comedy to drama on a dime, and not losing anything in the process.

Jojo is the newest project in Waititi’s boundless repertoire of film. It focuses on Jojo, a young boy in Hitler’s army during World War 2, played by Roman Griffin Davis. He shows blind faith to Germany, but is oblivious to the actions of the army and just wants to be part of something. The oblivious boy finds comfort in his imaginary friend, who happens to be Hitler, played expertly by the director himself, Taika Waititi. Jojo’s mother, Rosie, portrayed by Scarlett Johansson, is apprehensive about his behavior, but understands that he doesn’t know what he is following. Rosie harbors a secret, however, as she is harboring a young Jewish girl named Elsa in their attic, and keeping her safe from the outside world, played by Thomasin Mackenzie. When Jojo encounters Elsa, he must confront his blind faith and ask himself what is right.

Making a comedy about World War 2 Germany is obviously going to raise some concerns, but Waititi exceeds expectations and creates an incredible film that turns a painful topic on its head. Rather than making a joke out of the war, it encases the pain of the war and presents it in a more relaxed format. Children can learn about the war and still enjoy the film for what it is, which is a feat on its own.

Waititi’s writing is top-notch, and the more emotional story strikes a chord in the heart that leaves a message unlike anything seen in Hollywood. The film teaches a lesson about the horrors of war, but isn’t up-front and brutal, and presents it in a way everyone can enjoy and learn from. The film does have many serious moments, but they don’t overpower the comedy, which is center-stage and incredibly written. The comedy isn’t meant to hurt or offend anyone, but uses comedy to present a touchy topic in a way everybody can agree with. The film doesn’t laugh at the audience, but laughs with them.

One piece that stands out is Jojo at his training camp and his out-of-touch counselors. Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell) is a bumbling drunk who is forced to train the youth, and Finkel (Alfie Allen) is his suck-up second in command. Another hilarious foil to Davis’ Jojo is Waititi as his imaginary friend, Hitler. The film’s Hitler delivers many incredible lines without turning the movie’s subject into a joke. The film is hilarious and maneuvers through a tough subject without losing any of its charm. Showing the world of early 40s Germany through the eyes of an oblivious young boy shows an honest and profound look on the history of Germany and shines a new light on life for German youths.

The film’s excellent writing is supported by its acting. Davis and Mackenzie, both newcomers to the acting scene, deliver incredible performances, and their growing bond throughout the film is what drives the movie’s emotional impact. Rockwell and Allen are spectacular as careless camp instructors, and Johansson is great as a mother living a double life in an era where secrets could cost you your life. Waititi steals every scene he’s in, as he perfectly portrays a figment of a young boy’s imagination, while still keeping the humor sophisticated enough for everybody to enjoy.

All in all, Jojo Rabbit is incredibly strong on all fronts and gives a great experience that can teach anybody a lesson, be it about the dangers of war or the value of love.