A Funny War (Movie Thoughts: Jojo Rabbit)

jjrSo I have not seen any of the Thor movies (sue me) so I do not really know how much of a big deal the director Taika Waititi can be. But he apparently is a major major force amd he got ‘Jojo Rabbit’ made, which he bills as an ‘anti-hate satire.’  It’s a weird kind of movie, to be sure, a Nazi comedy that I thought it promised to something similar to what Mel Brooks used to do, but it doesn’t really fulfill it. There are some good things in the film, and I wish I was fully satisfied, but my hunger was satiated enough for me to give it a marginal thumbs up.

First of all, Scarlet Johansson. I have soured on her lately, and I wasn’t ever really a big fan of her acting, but she is great here, playing Jojo’s mother, who is quietly doing ‘resistance.’  She tries to hide a young girl in the attic, and when Jojo finds out, is surprised. Aren’t Jews supposed to be devilish monsters, then why is he enamored by this sweet and intelligent young woman? Roman Griffin Davis, who plays Jojo is a great young actor who is able to give ‘wide eyed innocence’ whether he is dealing with two ‘imaginary’ friends – his idol Adolf Hitler and the young girl in the attic. He is able to balance the sweet and the sour effectively.

The film’s tonal changes makes the film weak. at times, I felt like it was trying to abandon ‘satire’ mode and going for melodrama. Just as I was settling in and was into black comedy groove, we see through Jojo’s eyes the sad reality of what war does – when he experiences a major loss, I couldn’t help but be touched by it. All it all, its unevenness can be unnerving, but there’s enough here to admire.

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