Jojo is a Nazi youth in the midst of World War II. His Father has been serving for the Germans in Italy. Jojo lives with just his Mother in Falkenheim, Germany. Jojo has one particularly special friend, Hitler. And I don’t want to tell any more of the story than that. I’m not sure how I did it, but I knew very little about this movie before watching it. I thought I had seen the trailer, but since I watched it for making this review, I realized I had definitely not seen the trailer. I would recommend not watching the trailer on this one. It contains, what I would consider, major spoilers. I’ll try to convince you to watch “Jojo Rabbit” without needing to see that trailer.
I’ll tell you right up front there are two groups of people that will probably not like “Jojo Rabbit”. First, Nazi’s; they’re not portrayed in a way the aligns with Nazi values. Second, people that can’t choke down the idea that some Nazi’s were good people. “Jojo Rabbit” is a comedic drama that routinely pokes fun at Nazi’s, but still portrays them as individuals. The movie takes place entirely in Germany and most characters we encounter are Nazi’s or Nazi sympathizers. “Jojo Rabbit” does a good job of walking the narrow path of making sure the Nazi party is portrayed almost entirely negatively while still having relatable characters you can sympathize with. I think having the lead character be a child helps a lot with this, because it allows us to see this Nazi child through a different lens than we would watch an adult with. It’s easier to cut him slack.
The main characters are portrayed as true individuals, but don’t expect anyone else to seem too real. Many of the side characters are fairly cartoonish with, probably, intentionally bad German accents. This is, after all, a mostly comedy movie and if you can’t poke fun at the nazi’s, who can you poke fun at?
Now this might seem like a weird comparison, but I think “Jojo Rabbit” bears some similarities to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. While “Jojo Rabbit” is definitely are darker and more serious film, they are both comedic dramas that address some serious issues. Bueller is focused on a coming of age story for teens nearing high school graduation. Jojo’s experience of growing and learning about the world is in a different context with a similar comedic style. Jojo’s conversations with Hitler mirror Bueller’s conversations with the audience. Bueller can be a bit more of a casual experience with buddies or at a party. “Jojo Rabbit” deserves a dedicated watching experience.
As one might expect from a movie about Nazi’s during the Second World War, there is significant violence. Some is played for laughs, some is definitely not. There is occasionally harsh course language.
“Jojo Rabbit” is a “film” and I mean that in the most pretentious way possible. It’s artsy, meaningful, earnest, and funny. The outstanding use of colour, framing, and foreshadowing keep this emotional story flowing without a hitch. As cheesy as it sounds, “Jojo Rabbit” can make you burst with tears of laughter and sadness.
“Jojo Rabbit” is an excellent film I highly recommend. I give it a 9/10. It’s one worth watching, but I would keep the kids away until they, at least partially, understand the horrors of the war.
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