Ben Oliver

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Jojo Rabbit

Definitely not a good time to be a Nazi.
17 October 2023

A kid in the Hitler Youth (Roman Griffin Davis) finds out that his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic.

I’d heard of this as the ‘Nazi satire’ but what struck me was that Jojo Rabbit isn’t mean enough to really work on this front. The comedy is somehow toothless and just reminds me of Waititi’s other films, which I liked, but when you are going after some of the worst people in history carrying out some of the worst atrocities in history, you simply cannot play it safe. Go hard or go home.

The film is at its best when it’s not trying to be funny, and the mother-and-son lead performances really shine through. It owes a lot to Moonrise Kindgom but certain elements of its comedic tone hold it back from really landing like Anderson’s work does.

Waititi’s interpretation of Hitler as a dorky imaginary friend could have been a bold, creative move but instead he only plays it for cheap laughs and never for satire. The concept isn’t that distasteful, but the finished product is.

Generally likeable but far too tepid as a comedy.

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