Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit ★★★


Tonally hazardous in some respects, so much so that I would have rather imagined that Waititi's balancing act here would have improved had his self-insert as a comedically-defined Adolf Hitler been furloughed completely — or at the very least, less intrusive and more affecting in some capacity. However, by a decent margin, Waititi's oddly touching coming-of-age tale set in the waning days of World War II Germany works more often than not, most especially with what is perhaps one of the largest gut punches in recent memory: the following of a butterfly before we are revealed tragedy. Absolutely lovely is the relationship between newcomer Roman Griffin Davis (playing the titular role of Jojo "Rabbit," a cruel moniker bestowed upon him by nasty Nazi bullies because his gentle heart would not allow his hands to twist a rabbit's neck by managerial order) and Scarlett Johansson as his acting single mother since the father is away on the front. Davis must surely be on the minds of many working directors looking to fill their roles with a steadfast, brilliant young man. Not sure, however, on the overall descriptions of the Nazi characters here, with them either being weirdly equated as being homosexual or otherwise complete buffoons — which both have their qualities, with Rockwell's apparent goodness stemming from his own manner of "hiding," (however, Alfie Allen's character is rendered obnoxiously, stereotypically gay) while painting Nazis as crass, boneheaded dummies is well-enough from a certain perspective (though Rebel Wilson's Nazi Youth instructor is more than brash and cloying). Would have wished Thomasin McKenzie's Elsa Korr, the young Jewish girl whom Johannsson hides in the walls of the townhouse, been more constructed with more character rather than as the lecturer to Jojo, yet McKenzie is such an exhilarating presence it almost does not matter. The tightrope acrobatics are wavering for the first two acts, yet the final act proves to be the film's greatest strength, with comedy and terrifying dramatics ably working in tandem with one another. Tarnished in many ways, but this "Moonrise Kingdom with Nazis" effort is still a moderate accomplishment.

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