The_Ploughman’s review published on Letterboxd:
Boy’s Life is Beautiful is the irresistible glib headline, though not quite accurate. Waititi’s movie where the goofiness shines through even its most upsetting moments, is best described as what it’s not.
It’s not a satire, unless we’re watering down the term enough to include taking potshots at villains long dead and buried. Yes there are Nazis now, but Jojo encounters only parodies of the kind in German uniforms diligently finishing out World War II. There’s no man that deserves more kicks while on (or in) the ground than Hitler, but we're a couple lifetimes past any era when a mocking parody of the guy could be considered incisive.
It’s not a go-for-broke comedy, though to the movie’s credit it’s more often this than anything. Even when serious stuff occurs, the movie never abandons its spirit or Waititi’s strengths as a visual comedy director. The film deploys anachronisms in dialog and music that make the characters more buoyant and the cast – even Waititi's mugging – make the most of the dramatic license taken to keep the drama from dampening the fun.
As such, it’s not a dramatic force, though that serious stuff mentioned gets quite serious. It’s better that the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, although one could wonder what the point of doing a film during a serious time with serious story elements if there’s no particular point, or at least no new points, being made about them. Seriously.
So what’s left for it to be? A sometimes laugh-out-loud funny film with scattershot drama of inconsistent effectiveness. And for the most part, that’s enough.