If anyone was to offer a comical version of Hitler, Taika Waititi, Hollywood’s current king of comedy and self proclaimed ‘Polynesian Jew’ was probably the man to do it
It will almost certainly be more difficult for those of a traditional attitude to accept Jojo Rabbit for exactly what it is. In no way would their lack of acceptance be wrong, but this is an incredibly experimental feature, featuring a comical characterisation of the world’s most heinous and disgusting dictator of all time. Adolf Hitler is not a man to be laughed at, and his actions still reverberate across the world 70 years after his crimes were committed, but, for a modern audience, this form of comedy has acceptors, and a lot of them at that. And if anyone was to offer a comical version of Hitler, Taika Waititi, Hollywood’s current king of comedy and self proclaimed ‘Polynesian Jew’ was probably the man to do it.
But Jojo Rabbit isn’t about Hitler. It’s the story of young Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) a boy torn between his involvement in the Hitler youth, and the Jewish girl he finds hidden in the walls of his late sister’s bedroom. Hitler is a sidepiece, the imaginary friend of Jojo, and taking that as why he is included at all, puts Jojo Rabbit firmly in the land of satire and fantastical comedy.
Waititi’s impressive ability to compare the actions of the Third Reich to that of young, impressionable school children is hilarious in its own right, and often judged perfectly, with Jojo’s moral dilemma proving just excellent for showcasing such notions. It’s this childish theme running through the film that gives it the ‘yes, this is okay’ – thumbs up. Misjudging a film like Jojo Rabbit is probably the easiest thing any film maker could ever do.
However, there would never be a film of this nature without moments of fear and despair, and this is perhaps where Waititi’s directing comes away at the seams slightly. The scenes with Jojo and Adolf arguing are excellent comedy, but immediately following that with the biggest heartbreak of the film? No, that doesn’t work. All it equates to is a pause from the proceedings, when in fact, it should mean so much more. Jojo Rabbit is experimental and modern, but it isn’t the height of film making in any sense. There’s a lack of tone and maturity to it, both elements that would have made it an infinitely better production.
It’s very silly, and outlandishly weird at times, but it pokes fun at history whilst offering a fresh story and a caring look at those under the rule of a dictator who wanted to do what they could against the terrible forces. Introducing the excellent Roman Griffin Davis, and executing one of the strangest comic characterisations of all time fills the list of positives that come from Jojo Rabbit, but they don’t entirely outweigh the flawed nature of what the film actually embodies by it’s end credits.
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