“Hitler seems like he would’ve been a fun imaginary friend to have.”
-Joey Marrazzo (Just now as I typed it)
I never thought I would ever say that sentence in my lifetime, but after watching Jojo Rabbit over the weekend, there is some truth behind it.
THIS REVIEW DISCUSSES THE MOVIES PLOT IN DETAIL.
SO BE CAREFUL. THIS IS YOUR FIRST AND ONLY WARNING.
Jojo Rabbit is a film directed by Taika Waititi (Thor Ragnarok, What We Do in the Shadows) which is based off a book titled Caging Skies, which was written by Christine Leunens.
Jojo Rabbit is set during World War 2, it follows a German boy named Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) who is an aspiring Nazi. Jojo started his Nazi journey by going to a weekend camp to help him get suited for war by learning how to throw grenades, use throwing knives and shoot a gun. After being embarrassed by some of the camp counselors, he runs away where his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi) motivates him to go back to the camp. When he runs back, he grabs a grenade that ends up going off right next to him.
Waking up with scars on his face and a limp with his walk, Jojo is now stuck at home until he starts doing errands for the Nazi office, which is led by Captain K (Sam Rockwell).
During his stay at home, Jojo discovers that there is a Jewish girl, Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie), living in the wall that his mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), has been hiding from the government. Jojo is now in a difficult situation. As a young child that wants to become a Nazi, he should turn Elsa in since she is Jewish. On the other hand, if he does turn her in, Elsa will get in trouble as well as his mother who assisted in hiding her. Jojo decides not to turn her in, but interrogate her to get more information on the Jews.
This film is listed as being a comedy and a drama and that accurately describes it, but I would put it at 65% drama with the other 30% being comedy. While there were a few scenes that had me laughing, a few with a wide smirk, it isn’t an over the top comedy.
While Jojos interactions with Hitler are all fantastic and really the funnier parts of the film, this movie has a lot of heart. The family dynamic really stood out to me when it came between Jojo and his mother. His mother was tired of the war and having her son aspire to be a Nazi was definitely problematic, but she continued to support him. While Jojo would be out doing the Nazi errands like putting up propaganda, it is revealed later in the film that Josie was being unpatriotic to the Nazis and left messages around the town that read “free Germany.”
It is due to those actions that the last scene that Jojo and his mother share together is when Jojo walks around town square to find that his mother has been hanged because of her actions.
This movie had plenty of moments where you would laugh, be scared, nervous amongst other emotions.
One scene that really had me on the edge of my seat is when the Gestapo show up to Jojos home. Led by Deertz (Stephen Merchant), a small crew of other Gestapo agents, and eventually Captain K with his second in command Finkel (Alfie Allen), they speak with Jojo about his mothers whereabouts. Following several, I mean a large amount of “Heil Hitlers”, the Gestapo storm the house while Jojo is nervous for Elsas safety.
Those nerves hit a new high when he sees Elsa upstairs, not in hiding, greeting the Gestapo agents with yet another round of “Heil Hitler.” Elsa is posing as Jojos sister who has passed away but the government was not aware of the passing. Deertz asks for the papers which get intercepted by Captain K who proceeds to ask Elsa her information. When it comes to the birthday, Elsa says the wrong date but Captain K doesn’t point it out, but goes along and says that everything matched up.
While being a friend to Elsa and having his mother be against the Nazi regime, Jojo never lost hope that the Nazis were the future of Germany. It isn’t until his friend Yorkie informs Jojo that Hitler has killed himself and that the allies are closing in to finish off the Nazi movement.
With the Nazi movement being over, Elsa was now able to come out of hiding, but Jojo didn’t want her to leave him as they have started to love each other as siblings. Jojo initially lies to Elsa saying the Germans won, but then devises a plan to sneak her out. As they leave their home, a truck with the American flag waving from it drives down the street which let Elsa know that the Germans did not win. After a brisk slap in the face, Jojo and Elsa have a little dance off and that’s how the movie ends.
The relationship between Jojo and Elsa was my favorite part of the film. What starts out as Jojo basically assuming Elsa is a monster, their relationship grows over the course of the movie. This is due to their conversations and the fake letters that Jojo would write pretending to be Nathan, Elsas fiancé who we find out passed away a year ago. It is thanks to those letters that Jojos feelings towards Elsa come out and help their relationship turn from strangers to siblings.
Walking into this movie, I expected it to be a flat out comedy. I did not expect to walk out thinking about how beautiful this movie was. With the main plot being about Jojo and Elsa, and the subplot being probably World War 2, the movie wasn’t convoluted with anything else. It was simple throughout the whole movie, didn’t make you think much but it definitely made you feel something.
Whether it was being scared during the Gestapo scene, laughing during Jojos scenes with Hitler or being optimistic and hopeful during the scenes between Jojo and his mother, this movie surprised me in giving me more emotions than I originally thought.
Before I wrap up, huge shoutout to Taika Waititi for his portrayal of Hitler. While the resemblance isn’t spot on, he was fantastic. While most people have an angel and the devil on opposite shoulders, Jojo had freakin’ Adolf Hitler there to keep pushing him so that he could be the best Nazi he could be. The scenes that Jojo and Adolf share are all fantastic, especially the final one after Jojo had learned that Adolf had killed himself. Jojo and Adolf was definitely my favorite relationship right behind Jojo and Elsa.
Usually when I leave a movie I have the same mindset as the main character, so walking out of Spider-Man: Far From Home, I felt like Spider-Man, walking out of Yesterday, I wanted to listen to the Beatles. Thankfully, this movie and the last movie I saw (Joker) didn’t have the same effect.
With Jojo Rabbit now in wide release, I would definitely recommend you go check it out. With a hour and 48 minute runtime, you never have a thought that this movie is dragging. It was very well paced and you are so entranced by the story and its characters that you don’t even think about the movie ending.
When I look back at the movies that I’ve seen this year, I personally can not point out which movies would be nominated for awards season. If I had to choose one movie to at least be thought of, it would be this one. Jojo will give you a lot of laughs and will definitely make you feel things that you don’t usually get from movies nowadays and I hope that others will recognize it as well.