Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit ★★★½

I wasn't put off by the more gleeful, satirical scenes as I feared I would be, and ultimately I wanted more of them. Much more of them.

Jojo Rabbit is at its best when it's at its silliest. It's not an exercise in poor taste, either. The subject of humor is always the Nazis and the absurdity of their evil beliefs, and their actual violence is never made light of. It's genuinely quite funny, particularly in the scenes at the training camp (which bear an uncomfortable resemblance to much of Moonrise Kingdom), but the film as a whole is not a comedy. Much of it is based in drama, and that's where it often lost me.

Taika Waititi can do drama well, but it doesn't feel like he likes doing it. Humorless scenes of conflict seem to only exist as a means of being respectful to the subject matter, rather than holding their own weight. I was much more aware of the direction than I wanted to be, as well. A particular motif in the film is far too heavy handed, awkwardly put in front of us time and time again just for a later reveal to have more of an impact. And yes, that moment does have the desired impact, but I wish it could have had that without having to watch it be built.

This is not the story of a Nazi who meets a Jewish person and stops being racist. It's a much more three-dimensional look at the end of a failing regime and the power of indoctrination onto youth. Jojo is a child being fed a diet of constant propaganda, and his beliefs are truly not his own. It's not just about the personal -- a war is actually happening. There are serious takeaways here that do work, yet even as I describe them, I'd rather just talk about the funny bits.

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