TIFF Review: Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit

Written and Directed by Taika Waititi

Starring Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, and Scarlett Johansson

Synopsis: Set in Nazi Germany during the end of World War II, a ten-year-old boy who is a young trainee in Hitler’s Army unwitting befriends a Jewish girl who is hiding in his home. Based on the novel by Christine Leunens.

Review: If Thor: Ragnarök served as Taika Waititi’s coming-out party to a mainstream audience, Jojo Rabbit serves as the film that marks him as a top-tier storyteller and director. Young Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) is the weak link at the camp that trains kids to join the Nazi army because the war is ending and there’s no one left. The camp is run by Captain Klezendorf (Sam Rockwell) and his co-heads Finkel (Alfie Allen) and Fraulein Rahm (Rebel Wilson). Jojo acts tough when no one is watching, but he doesn’t want to harm or kill anyone. After an accidental grenade explosion leaves Jojo unable to finish his training, he is homebound with his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) to look after him. Unbeknownst to Jojo, Rosie has been keeping a young Jewish teen in the walls of Jojo’s deceased sister’s bedroom. Oh, and Jojo has an imaginary friend: Adolf Hitler (Waititi).

It’s important to know going into Jojo Rabbit is that, as stated in the trailers, this is a farce. If you know the previous works of Waititi, he is very tongue-in-cheek with his sense of humor and is using this timeframe and these characters for a reason. After Jojo Rabbit was announced as the winner of the People’s Choice Award at TIFF, he said the point of the film was to show that bigotry and hatred had no place in this world and that hopefully, he could use this platform to bring people together. As Jojo’s relationship with Elsa (McKenzie) grows, he realizes that his preconceived notions of Jewish people are wrong, and he begins to care for Elsa as the person she is, and not what he was told she represents. Hitler and everyone in the Nazi Army is meant to be buffoons because that’s what they are.  

Verdict: This is one of the front-runners for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. This, unfortunately, will be a devise film based on where you fall on the political spectrum, but this was an enjoyable satire that everyone should see. My grade for Jojo Rabbit is a high A and will be released in theaters on October 18th.

Author: Sean Blanford

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