Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit ★★½

The Happy Holocaust film. That’s the term that I’ve begun to use in order to categorize films like Taika Waititi’s JoJo Rabbit and others that attempt to dramatize and satarize the horrors of WWII. This film is a difficult one to review because its aims are noble: Waititi has described the film as a “anti-hate satire” but personally, I have a very tough time separating myself from the brutality of the whole ordeal, so I wasn’t sure how to respond to this film. What I do know is that the film is low-hanging fruit for social progressives who are looking for a emotional balm during these turbulent times. The film succeeds on that end because of the casts commitment to total mockery of Nazism and its tenets, a very likeable and tender performance from Roman Griffin Davis as Jojo, and Taika Waititi’s total commitment to treating Adolph Hitler, the man and his ideology, as one long running gag. We recognize the absurdity of his plans in hindsight and he’s certainly worthy of our derision, but as previously mentioned, separating the humor from the horrors is a difficult thing for me to do. Plus, unless you’ve been living under a rock, white nationalism is alive and well in the U.S. (“Cause now the KKK wears three-piece suits” - Shoutout to Public Enemy) and in many other parts of the world, so spending two hours in a theater and being asked to laugh at a very real and existential threat is a tough pill to swallow at times when it seems like the world is crumbling around you. Maybe some distance from our current troubles will allow me to get in on the joke a little bit more, but for now I’m pretty ambivalent about Waititi’s latest. But I admire him for making it nonetheless.

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