Jojo Rabbit is set some seventy five years ago but is strangely relevant today given the current politically and culturally climate. Alt-right racism and unabashed narcissism may seem a long way from 1940’s Germany but perhaps it’s a reminder of what can happen when we fail to rein it in. Maybe it takes a film like Jojo Rabbit. We are witness to a kid who sees it for what it is but also manages to deliver the humour.
Liberal use of the Panzerfaust anti-tank theatre prop places the drama nearer the end of the war. It adds a certain supra boy scout kudos. You get the feeling this kind of thing intrigues audiences – the cultural and technical peculiarities of the Weinmach.
While Jojo Rabbit is essentially a comedy set in Nazi Germany it is also a story of a boy who learns to see through the lies.
Taika Waititi (director) as Adolf manages to convey the Führer’s appearance and gestures in atypical caricature. Its the humour and gaffs that take you into the story and gives nuance to the character. Scarlett Johansson is Rosie, Jojo’s mother lending appropriate Aryan guise to the maternal role. Roman Griffin Davis plays Jojo having some propensity to vanish into the part (as child actors do) but manages to make it his. Rebel Wilson, seemingly born for comedy is natural in the part of Fau Rahm. Sam Rockwell is Klenzendorf, the disgraced Captain and gives an individual take on the flawed character.
Hi jinks extends to costumes where military authenticity gives way to Hugo Boss aesthetics. They even lambast popular song with German translation. The intended effect is funny and faintly ridiculous.
Jojo Rabbit is especially relevant today as we find ourselves falling for slogan propaganda and second rate leaders. Even in the darkest situations love can overcome evil and as this film suggests, there is always a place for humour.
Director Taika Waititi
Screenplay Taika Waititi from Christine Leunens‘ novel
Jojo ‘Rabbit’ Betzier Roman Griffin Davis
Elsa Thomasin McKenzie
Adolf Hitler Take Waititi
Yorki Archie Yates
Fau Rahm Rebel Wilson
Captain Klenzendorf Sam Rockwell
Rosie Scarlett Johansson