Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit ★★½

I have loved everything Taika Waititi has made so far in his career. From Eagle vs. Shark to Flight of the Conchords to Boy to What We Do in the Shadows to Hunt for the Wilderpeople to Thor to even just his general persona in interviews and on social media. I think the man is a delight. It’s because of this fact that i am so surprised to say I found Jojo Rabbit so underwhelming and dissapointing. 

All his films so far for me have been profusely funny, extremely heartfelt, and wonderfully unique. His latest feature seems to have attempted to achieve the same sort of qualities however lost the strength of its convictions and couldn’t quite stick the landing. It has moments of humour for sure, although they are very few and far between, and when they do appear it is more smirk inducing than inspiring full laughter (at least with the audience I saw it with). There are moments of drama and pathos, although they feel very safe and obvious and entirely without bite, and in a comedic film normalising Nazis and their führer, that seems almost inconceivable. The final nail in this maddeningly underwhelming coffin is that the look and feel of the film is so close to Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom that it was constantly reminding me of how much better that film was with its message and its humour and its overall execution. It was a constant reminder of the letdown this film was being. 

It’s not all bad though. The performances are pretty great, especially Roman Griffin Davis as Jojo and Thomasin McKenzie as Elsa. These two lead kids are very watchable and deliver their lines with real gusto and personality. The support from Scarlett Johanson and Sam Rockwell is exactly what you would expect from those two, very solid indeed. The second tier support from Alfie Allen and Rebel Wilson is entirely throwaway and forgettable and did absolutely nothing to help the film for me. The choices Waititi made in his depiction of imaginary Hitler were interesting but even they began to grate a little towards the end as the forced quirkiness of it all started to wear thin. 

Basically it underwhelmed me in nearly every way, but mostly because I was just so excited for another Taika Waititi film and I felt so safe knowing that he would knock it out of the park again! I’m genuinely a little baffled by all the 4 and 5 star reviews as it is so middle of the road it hurts. It’s not funny enough to be a comedy, not biting enough to be a satire, not affecting enough to be a drama, and it is too conventional and safe for what the opportunities this subject matter offers. I’m sadly disappointed.