Jojo Rabbit ★½

The numerous tonal and sociopolitical problems with this deeply wrongheaded misfire of an "anti-hate satire" (this proclamation from some of the promotional material gives you a good idea of how subtle the "humor" is) are best covered by smarter souls than I; give these brilliant pieces from Esther Rosenfield and Sean Burns a spin if you want the rundown. For my part, I just want to talk about how aggressively unfunny the thing is -- not one joke even kind of lands, and while What We Do in the Shadows, a movie I somewhat admired, did indicate that Waititi's sense of humor is not mine by any stretch, I don't think that quite explains how completely flat this falls. It opens with what feels like a gag from the forgotten 1970s montage relic All This and World War II but most of its jokes are essentially just built from Avengers-like smarmy dialogue, and the story is wildly overstuffed with ideas in a way that smacks of deep insecurity. At least Life Is Beautiful, an equally tone-deaf film, was competently directed; this resembles the work of someone who's read about Wes Anderson's films but has never seen one. It has the same cuddly desperation as Paddington, and makes a depressing waste of a perfectly fine performance by Thomasin McKenzie, not to mention a cue-up of Arthur Lee's scathing "Everybody's Gotta Live" that might be the most on-the-nose appropriation of a piece of rock music since "Everybody Hurts" underscored a bunch of hugging alcoholics in the Andy Garcia-Meg Ryan vehicle When a Man Loves a Woman.

Nathan liked this review