Jojo Rabbit, written and directed by Taika Waititi, is a risqué movie that reminded me of classic comedies made by the legendary Mel Brooks. The film risks being offensive to lampoon racism, including its different perspectives by persecuting followers, and to draw parallels to current arrogant behaviour thrusted upon minorities. Waititi solves the puzzle to make his satire work, but also doesn’t distill the severity of past hate crimes in this period piece.
Waititi proposes another gamble for himself: to portray a naïve boy’s image of Adolph Hitler. It’s not only another role for him to play in the production of this high-wire concept, but a challenge for the casual actor that requires him to carefully select when he goes over-the-top with dainty qualities. Tapping into his past work that also deals with certain levels of childlike gullibility, Waititi pulls off this task. But also, because his on-screen partner is Roman Griffin Davis. Davis, who quickly establishes himself as a talented and sensitive performer, provides a mirror for Waititi’s performance. The actors work unbelievably well off of each other, complimenting their roles with reactions from the other. The film’s all-star comedic cast (which includes Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, and an exceptionally silly winning performance by Scarlett Johansson) are also key pieces to this ensemble comedy.
While this article may resemble a “thank you” letter more than a review, I just can’t shake my awe and gratitude for Taika Waititi’s bold decisions as a filmmaker and a screenwriter. Jojo Rabbit is a fantastic movie that will hopefully inspire future storytellers.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie