Blind Ambition

Don’t Breathe is the exact opposite of Evil Dead (2013). Rather than make another blood soaked supernatural remake, director Fede Álvarez reunited with producer Sam Raimi to make a more realistic low budget original horror film. Like most modern horror movies, it was the concept that drew me in. Don’t Breathe is a reverse home invasion flick that gives the antagonist the limitation of being blind. Except that “The Blind Man” is more capable than he appears.

The naturally muscular Stephen Lang is intimidating as Norman Nordstrom, but slightly sympathetic as a blinded war veteran who ends up the target of calculating thieves. Evil Dead actress Jane Levy is final girl Rocky who wants to leave her abusive household, Goosebumps actor Dylan Minnette is the more virtuous Alex, and It Follows actor Daniel Zovatto is the obnoxious Money. Don’t Breathe is like a spiritual successor to It Follows since both take place in Detroit and make effective use of atmosphere.

The house is a terrifying labyrinth that gives Nordstrom a distinct advantage. Sequences like Rocky and Alex wandering a pitch black basement are a major highlight. Just as scary is the vicious Rottweiler that protects Nordstrom when he isn’t around. Although Don’t Breathe is only an hour and 28 minutes, it features an early twist that makes Nordstrom even more complex. I already didn’t like his nihilistic worldview, but what he plans to do to Rocky gets really disgusting. Everytime you think she got away, “The Blind Man” keeps gaining the upper hand. Don’t Breathe will leave you holding your breath.

Don't Breathe

The blind man defends himself

Followed by: Don’t Breathe 2

The Adventures of Captain Snowball

The Secret Life Pets 2 was the first non-Minion sequel from Illumination. In the time between the first movie, Despicable Me already reached its third installment. Despicable Me 2 felt like a natural progression for the franchise, but The Secret Life of Pets 2 is more like three short films loosely tied together. It’s basically the first movie all over again. Kevin Hart, Eric Stonestreet, Jenny Slate, Lake Bell, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, Dana Carvey, and Ellie Kemper all return for the sequel except for the main star. I never cared for Louis C.K. in the first place, so I didn’t care that he was recast due to controversy. Patton Oswalt is a more lively replacement for Max anyway. The pets and their antics continue to be for children, but it’s still mostly amusing.

This time Max feels threatened by Katie’s son when she finds love with Chuck voiced by fellow comedian Pete Holmes. Max quickly becomes overprotective of Liam and he gets so stressed that he wears a dog cone. That seems to be the plot until the unfocused movie splits in three. One plot sees Max and Duke leave New York for a farm where Max learns to be brave. He’s taught by a gruff voiced Harrison Ford as sheepdog Rooster. Leaving the big city for a farm is pretty cliché, so you get what you expect. Another plot sees Gidget look after her crush Max’s favorite toy Busy Bee. The apartment is the only place we see Chloe, Buddy, Mel, Norman, Pops, and the rest of the pets. Gidget pretending to be a cat to enter a crazy cat lady’s apartment and rescue Busy Bee is cute, but it could’ve easily been a short film.

The final plot sees the now domesticated Snowball fantasize about being a superhero. Since Superhero movies are at an all time high, it feels a little played out to do something like this. I continue to tolerate Kevin Hart, but Tiffany Haddish is the same in everything she does. Even voicing a concerned Shih Tzu named Daisy who enlists Captain Snowball’s help to rescue a white tiger from a circus. Hu doesn’t speak, but it’s your basic animal rescue plot. Nick Kroll is the standard evil European circus owner Sergei who gets help from a psychotic monkey and villainous black wolves. The movie’s plots couldn’t be more disconnected, but they do manage to make everything relevant in the end. Ending with a more cringy scene where Snowball raps the “Panda” song. The Secret Life of Pets 2 is just a bunch of stuff that happens.

8. The Secret Life of Pets 2

Duke and Max protect Liam

Preceded by: The Secret Life of Pets

Pet Story

The Secret Life of Pets asks the question, what do pets do when their owners are away? It’s no secret that Illumination gives way more attention to the Despicable Me & Minions franchise. The Secret Life of Pets was their way of branching out, yet maintaining the marketable cuteness that they’re known for. Though you better believe they found a way to sneak Minions into it. Obviously this concept has been done before, but The Secret Life of Pets is a passable kids movie. Although I never had a pet, I am a fan of dog and cat videos on YouTube. The opening is basically a bunch of relatable antics that pets get into when their owners leave for work. The story may be average, but the computer animation, especially for New York, is pleasing to look at. Animals are well rendered with cartoony features. I couldn’t really relate to the cast, since they’re all part of stuff I don’t normally watch.

Comedian Louis C.K. is your standard loyal Jack Russell Terrier Max. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Ellie Kemper is Max’s standard dog owner Katie. Fellow comedian Jenny Slate is an adorable Pomeranian named Gidget with a standard crush on Max. Their standard group of apartment pets include Lake Bell as lazy tabby cat Chloe, Hannibal Buress as relaxed wiener dog Buddy, Bobby Moynihan as hyper pug Mel, the director as dimwitted guinea pig Norman, and nonverbal parakeet Sweet Pea. Their material isn’t always the best, so most of them are forgettable. Most of the jokes rely on potty humor and Looney Tunes style slapstick. The Secret Life of Pets is basically Toy Story with pets. Max is the favorite until the giant Newfoundland mutt Duke enters his life. I don’t watch Modern Family, so Eric Stonestreet didn’t do much for me. Like a less clever Woody & Buzz relationship, Max & Duke are at odds with each other before ending up lost.

They’re cornered by deranged alley cats including Steve Coogan as the hairless Ozone. Then they’re rescued by a sewer dwelling group of human hating animals who call themselves the Flushed Pets. Although he’s an adorable white bunny, the group’s villainous leader Snowball is voiced by Kevin Hart. Despite his constant riffing, Hart is funny in the unlikely role. Meanwhile, the apartment pets led by a lovesick Gidget try to rescue their friends. She enlists help from hungry hawk Tiberius voiced by Albert Brooks and paralyzed Basset Hound Pops voiced by Dana Carvey doing his old man impression. Max and Duke don’t connect until they find a sausage factory followed by a very out of nowhere dancing hot dog dream sequence. The scene would be weird enough on its own, but this was the same year as Sausage Party. When they fail to find Duke’s original owner, a series of car chases lead to Snowball becoming good and helping the pets get home. The “Lovely Day” pet reunion is probably the most heartwarming part of the movie. The Secret Life of Pets should please pet owners.

7. The Secret Life of Pets

Duke and Max in Snowball’s Flushed Pets lair

Followed by: The Secret Life of Pets 2

Oh Brother

Despicable Me 3 kept the franchise going despite Minion dominance. Minions was a billion dollar success, but Illumination tried to expand with The Secret Life of Pets and Sing in the same year. Despicable Me 3 came afterwards with all the same excessive marketing. I know because I must’ve seen the trailer a hundred times. Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig return as Gru and Lucy who are now happily married agents working for the Anti-Villain League. The latest villain is Balthazar Bratt, a former child star from the cancelled TV show Evil Bratt with the unlikely voice of South Park co-creator Trey Parker. Bratt is a throwback supervillain with a high-top, mullet, and shoulder pads since 80’s nostalgia is still a thing. The movie is filled with 80’s songs like “Bad.” Bratt uses expanding bubble gum and other 80’s toys to steal a priceless diamond.

When Gru and Lucy fail to bring Bratt in, they’re both fired from the AVL by the new director voiced by Jenny Slate. Steve Coogan briefly voices the former director, but he also voices a butler who tells Gru about his long lost twin brother Dru. Gru’s mother made 2 seperate non-speaking cameos before Julie Andrews finally had a reason to return. Although it’s convenient storytelling, The Simpsons did the exact same thing. Carrell also voices Dru who lives in the fictional country Freedonia, is a wealthy pig farmer, and has long luxurious hair. Russell Brand doesn’t return, so Dr. Nefario is stuck frozen in carbonite. This time it’s the Minions who want to quit due to Gru’s lack of villainy. After Minions, I was surprised by how much they downplayed their role in the movie. Mel is the lead Minion who takes most of the Minions to a singing competition and prison where they realize they miss Gru. Two Minions stay with Gru and his family who all have major subplots.

Lucy is mostly concerned with being a better stepmom to the girls. Miranda Cosgrove returns to voice Margo after finishing college. Margo learns to accept Lucy after she stops an accidental marriage proposal. Dana Gaier returns as Edith who mostly tags along with Agnes. Agnes is recast since Elsie Fisher was busy making Eighth Grade. Her replacement is a little distracting since she spends a lot of time searching for a unicorn. Meanwhile, Gru learns that Dru wants to be a supervillain and he uses it as an excuse to steal back Bratt’s diamond. They use fancy stealth suits to infiltrate his lair where they discover his evil plan to make Hollywood float into space. The climax sort of rehashes the original, but this time it’s Lucy who saves the girls. Gru and Dru learn to work together and the Minions return to help defeat Bratt. Despicable Me 3 isn’t very original, but it is a serviceable return.

4. Despicable Me 3

Gru bonds with his brother Dru

Preceded by: Despicable Me 2 & Followed by: Despicable Me 4

Banana!

Minions put the scene stealing characters from Despicable Me front in center. Right from the start I knew it was an obvious marketing gimmick. Illumination literally waited 2 years to release the spin-off just to exploit its merchandising opportunities. I guess it worked since Minions merchandise was everywhere and the movie ended up becoming the third animated film to gross over a billion dollars. My brother and I saw Minions in theaters surrounded by the target audience. Although the computer animation is a vast improvement, Minions is the first movie that feels like a corrupt product. Despite speaking Minionese, which is basically gibberish the entire movie, Minions manages to keep the story going. The first half is like a nature documentary narrated by Geoffrey Rush. Minions begin life as yellow single-celled organisms who are basically immortal and live only to serve the most despicable villain at the time.

They accidentally kill a T-Rex, a caveman, a Pharaoh, Count Dracula, and Napoleon before becoming discouraged and living in an arctic cave. It’s a good thing they did become discouraged, or else they would’ve ended up following Hitler. Minions follows three Minions who were previously introduced. Kevin is the tall leader, Stuart is the one-eyed guitar player, and Bob is the cute one with a teddy bear. They travel all the way to New York where they gain their trademark overalls. Although Minions isn’t above childish humor, there are a ton of innuendos that will go over kids heads. Minions is set in the 1960’s with jokes only Baby Boomers will understand. Since Minions voice actor Pierre Coffin isn’t a big name, the rest of the cast has star power. Michael Keaton and Allison Janney are part of the unassuming suburban Nelson family who pick up the Minions and turn out to be criminals. The Minions have their usual short films Cro Minion and Competition, but Binky Nelson Unpacified is dedicated to their baby.

Together they head to Villain-Con in Orlando where we see many creative supervillains (and one familiar face). Without Gru, Scarlet Overkill stands in as his less endearing replacement. Not that Sandra Bullock doesn’t give it her all as the world’s first supervillainess. She’s joined by her laidback inventor husband Herb appropriately voiced by John Hamm. Scarlet recruits the Minions, then betrays them when she gets what she wants. We head to England where the Minions steal the Royal crown for Scarlet. Jennifer Saunders voices the Queen who’s forced to abdicate the throne to King Bob! When Scarlet seizes the throne, it’s up to the Minions to stop her. Through a series of crazy shenanigans, Kevin grows to enormous height and battles a rocket powered Scarlet. The rest of the Minions join them and the three primary Minions are honored by the Queen. Although it feels like a natural conclusion, young Gru suddenly appears voiced by Steve Carell in a split second cameo. Minions gave the audience what they wanted.

3. Minions

The Minions explore

Followed by: Minions: The Rise of Gru

Because I’m Happy!

Despicable Me 2 is the only Illumination film nominated for Best Animated Feature. Let alone receive an additional Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams was an upbeat and inescapable song back in 2013. Despicable Me 2 is a minor improvement over the original, but I do think the song helped its popularity. The computer animation is more polished, there’s still plenty of heart, and the childish humor is just as creative. My brother went to see Despicable Me 2, but I was still a little apprehensive. Hop wasn’t the best follow up to the original and the less said about The Lorax the better. Steve Carell, Russell Brand, Miranda Cosgrove, and the rest of the minor cast return to voice their respective characters. Carell and Cosgrove were both done with their shows at the time.

Gru is now an ex-villain who’s perfectly happy being a father to his three girls Margo, Edith, and Agnes. The Minions are also happy making jelly in their former laboratory, but Dr. Nefario decides to part ways with a fart gun salute. The threat this time is a mysterious villain who steals a dangerous mutagen called PX-41 that turns living things into aggressive purple monsters. The Minions were once comedic interludes, but they got so popular that they were given an entire sublot along with 3 short films called PuppyPanic in the Mailroom, and Training Wheels. Minions are captured, taken to a relaxing resort, and ingested with PX-41. Not to mention the other Minions who join Gru along the way. As a former villain, Gru is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to track down the villain behind everything. Steve Coogan voices the hilariously named Silas Ramsbottom who sends his top agent to collect Gru.

Kristen Wiig had a small role in the first movie, but now she’s upgraded to main character as Agent Lucy Wilde. Since Gru is constantly pestered by his neighbor to find a woman, I knew Lucy had to be his love interest. Their relationship is cute, quirky, and a little weird when Lucy drugs Gru’s vapid date voiced by Kristen Schaal. Together they work undercover in the mall to locate their villain. Ken Jeong voices a wig shop owner and potential suspect, but the real culprit is over-the-top Mexican stereotype El Macho. Benjamin Bratt voices the unassuming restaurant owner with an evil chicken, but the role was originally meant for Al Pacino. Pacino actually recorded all of his lines before being replaced. Margo has her own romantic subplot when she develops her first crush on El Macho’s son. Edith is mostly busy playing ninja, but Agnes really wants a mom. Gru rescues Lucy in an even crazier climax that ends with a wedding and more Minionese pop song. Despicable Me 2 should be enough to make fans happy.

2. Despicable Me 2

Gru bakes with Lucy Wilde

Preceded by: Despicable Me & Followed by: Despicable Me 3

We are Going to Steal the Moon!

Despicable Me is a good movie about a bad guy who becomes good in a bad way. Illumination is a computer animation company that sort of snuck up on everyone in the 2010’s. Unlike Pixar, DreamWorks, or Blue Sky Animation, I didn’t give their first film a chance. The Universal owned Illumination was founded by former Fox and Blue Sky producer Chris Meledandri with the intention of being kid friendly and cost effective. I was 15 at the time, and Despicable Me looked a little too childish for me.

I distinctly remember mistaking it for the very similar Megamind the first time I saw a trailer. Both 2010 movies are about a likeable bad guy and his minion(s) committing larger than life crimes, but ultimately learning to be a better person. We saw Megamind in theaters for its superhero angle and DreamWorks name recognition, but my brother and I didn’t have enough interest in Despicable Me to see it in theaters. Little did we know how much of a phenomenon Despicable Me and the Minions would end up being…

1. Despicable Me

Gru protects the girls

Despicable Me seems so simple compared to the rest of the franchise. The computer animation is good, but not what I’d call top tier. Despicable Me is cartoony with very stylized character designs. The main villain turned hero is the aptly named Felonious Gru. Though he can be referred to as a supervillain, Despicable Me is more Bond than Superman. So Gru’s look is more Blofeld than Lex Luthor. Gru has an oddly shaped body, a long pointy nose, bald head, and an all-black outfit complete with fancy scarf. Steve Carell took a break from The Office to create another iconic character. Carell disappears into the role with an undefinable European accent.

Like most diabolical villains, Gru has a super obvious evil lair, a rocket-powered car, and a FREEZE RAY! He’s even given his own catchy villain song by Pharrell Williams. Gru is joined by a monster “dog” named Kyle, his elderly associate Dr. Nefario voiced by a very unrecognizable Russell Brand, and the Minions. Honestly, it’s not hard to see why the Minions became so iconic. They’re like cute little pieces of yellow corn wearing blue overalls and goggles. Every Minion has a name and is distinguished by their height, size, or number of eyes. Like many studio mascots, the Minions are all voiced by co-director Pierre Coffin speaking a made up Minionese language that sounds like gibberish, but includes words like “Banana!”

The Minions are the biggest comic relief, but they rarely affect the plot. Their antics mostly include a trip to the store and a running gag where a Minion drinks an anti-gravity serum and continues to float throughout the movie. Of course the Minions were given the spotlight in 3 short films called Home Makeover, Orientation Day, and Banana. Some of the humor comes from civilians acting like Gru’s villainy is normal, but most of the jokes are reliant on potty humor and other childish gags. Like Dr. Nefario mistaking a dart gun for a fart gun.

Yet somehow Despicable Me ended up a lot more heartfelt than it sounds. Gru’s primary goal is proving himself as a great villain by literally stealing the moon. Something he hopes will impress his disapproving mother with the unlikely voice of Julie Andrews. Most of the cast consists of fellow comedians. Will Arnett voices Mr. Perkins, the President of the Bank of Evil who reluctantly loans Gru money to fund his plot to steal the moon. The problem is Mr. Perkins happens to be the father of Gru’s sworn rival Vector. A geeky rich brat voiced by Jason Segel who upstages Gru by stealing the Pyramids in the opening scene. Vector has his own much fancier evil lair complete with sharks.

When Vector steals a shrink ray, Gru hatches a plan to steal it by adopting a trio of unassuming orphans who can infiltrate his house by selling cookies. Kristen Wiig voices the cruel head of the orphanage Miss Hattie who flirts with Gru and lets him adopt the girls. Though they’re between the ages of 5 & 10, Margo, Edith, and Agnes are notable for having old lady names. Margo is the level-headed older one who wears glasses. Miranda Cosgrove voiced Margo between episodes of iCarly. Edith is the tomboy middle child who mostly wears pink. The lesser known Dana Gaier only got the part by accompanying her sister to an audition. Agnes is the adorable youngest sister who loves fluffy unicorns. Elsie Fisher made her film debut at only 6 years old.

Gru sees the girls as a means to an end, but the movie’s heart comes from him eventually caring for them. His softer side comes out at a carnival and after reading a bedtime story. The Minions also start to care for the girls, but Dr. Nefario keeps Gru focused on the mission. They build a rocket and steal the moon, but Gru realizes being a dad is more important and heads to their dance recital instead. The climax is crazy and defies the laws of physics when Gru rescues the girls from Vector and they become a family. Though it sounded like a generic kids movie on the surface, Despicable Me ended up being a surprise hit.

2. Despicable Me

The Minions

Followed by: Despicable Me 2

If We are Kind and Polite, the World Will be Right

Paddington 2 is sincerely one of the greatest sequels ever made. The first Paddington was a smash with critics, but Paddington 2 did the impossible by maintaining the highest 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes. A record that was unfortunately ended by one critic who frankly forgot his manners. Paddington 2 is a rare sequel that surpasses the original and is practically impossible to dislike. I feel about it the same as what I felt about Stuart Little 2 when I was a kid. The humor is better, the adventure is more exciting, and I was moved to tears by the end. Paddington Bear (now named Paddington Brown) is just so kind and polite with everyone he meets. He makes his London home a better place to live. Ben Whishaw is just as charming the second time around, but this time Paddington must prove his innocence when framed for a crime he didn’t commit.

All Paddington wants is to get a gift for his dear Aunt Lucy. Imelda Staunton and Michael Gambon both reprise their roles in a Peruvian flashback where Aunt Lucy and Uncle Pastuzo rescue the young bear cub. The gift is an immersive pop-up book of London that costs a fortune. Paddington gets into more antics with a job cutting hair and cleaning windows. Jim Broadbent returns as the kindly owner of the book Mr. Gruber and Peter Capaldi returns as Mr. Curry to doubt Paddington when the book turns up stolen. Even in prison Paddington manages to reach the humanity in everyone he meets. Prison uniforms are accidentally turned pink and prisoners cheer up when Paddington cooks up a big batch of delicious marmalade. Added emphasis on marmalade makes me want it even more.

Brendan Gleeson is a big standout as the hotheaded cook Knuckles who warms up to the kind bear. Meanwhile, the Brown family works to clear Paddington’s name. Hugh Bonneville now faces a mid-life crisis as Mr. Brown and Sally Hawkins finds herself underwater twice in the same year as Mrs. Brown. Madeleine Harris and Samuel Joslin haven’t done much since the first movie, but Judy and Jonathan are now into journalism and trains respectively. Julie Walters is about the same as Mrs. Bird. Together they discover the culprit to be former actor Phoenix Buchanan. Like Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant excels at playing an entertaining villain. Buchanan is notable for his costumes that he uses to find treasure from the pop-up book. Paddington 2 includes a  prison break and train chase, but it never loses sight of the heart that made us love Paddington in the first place.

Paddington 2

Paddington catches the train

Preceded by: Paddington & Followed by: Paddington in Peru

As Sweet as Marmalade

Paddington is simply delightful. It’s a rare family film that received near universal acclaim from the young and old. I’m not British myself, but I have heard of Paddington Bear before. Paddington was created by author Michael Bond. He began life in the book A Bear Called Paddington before transitioning to animated television programs. Live-action movies with a CGI animated animal can be hit or miss, but Paddington works about as well as Stuart Little did when I was a kid. The CGI is about as realistic as you can make a talking bear and the story is very faithful to the source material. Paddington resides in Darkest Peru where his Aunt Lucy and Uncle Pastuzo learned English customs from an explorer.

Paddington is perfectly well mannered and has a deep love of marmalade. I most certainly developed a love of marmalade after watching the film. Like the books, Paddington arrives in London and is adopted by the Brown family who name him after Paddington Station. The movie is quite humorous as Paddington gets into all sorts of antics including flooding the Brown bathroom and accidentally stopping a thief. A lot of the heart came from Paddington’s voice actor Ben Whishaw. Colin Firth was the original choice, but it’s best they went younger. Hugh Bonneville is a perfectly high-strung Mr. Brown and Sally Hawkins is warm & inviting as a more free-spirited Mrs. Brown. Madeleine Harris and Samuel Joslin are the often embarrassed Judy and mischievous Jonathan respectively.

A lot of the cast consists of Harry Potter alumni. There’s Dumbledore Michael Gambon as Uncle Pastuzo, Umbridge Imelda Staunton as Aunt Lucy, Mrs. Weasley Julie Walters as hip housekeeper Mrs. Bird, and Slughorn Jim Broadbent as kindly antique shop owner Mr. Gruber. Plus Doctor Who Peter Capaldi as the Brown’s crotchety neighbor Mr. Curry. The main conflict comes from Nicole Kidman as devious taxidermist Millicent. She’s more than a simple disposable villain since she has an unexpected connection to Paddington’s past. Though he begins the movie searching for a home, only at the end does Paddington realize he’s been home the whole time. Paddington is as sweet as marmalade.

Paddington

Paddington at the train station

Followed by: Paddington 2

Heil Me, Man

Jojo Rabbit is the feel good war movie of the 2010’s. That sounds wrong, but imagine trying to pitch the movie. How do you get a coming of age comedy about a Hitler Youth made in this day in age? Somehow writer/director Taika Waititi managed to get Jojo Rabbit made between Thor movies. Of course it was polarizing, but for his effort Waititi won his first Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Though the story sounds very original, it was loosely inspired by the much more serious book Caging Skies. Jojo Rabbit was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Production Design. Jojo Rabbit was deliberately made as colorful and innocent looking as possible. The satire is over-the-top and supposed to highlight the absurdity of the Nazi party.

A German version of “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” is a good parallel between Nazi fanaticism and Beatlemania. The more characters say “Heil Hitler,” the more ridiculous it is. Especially from the perspective of a child who blindly follows the Führer. Jojo is a good kid deep down who just wants to belong and have a father figure in his life. Unfortunately, that comes in the form of his imaginary friend Adolf played by a hilariously buffoonish Waititi. Newcomer Roman Griffin Davis is the perfect blonde haired, blue eyed child actor who balances Jojo’s changing ideology. Starting with a facial disfigurement that hurts his self-esteem even more. Jojo is part of the Deutsches Jungvolk Hitler Youth program. Jojo’s only real friend is his equally clueless buddy Yorki played by fellow newcomer Archie Yates. It’s at camp that Jojo learns from Captain Klenzendorf and Fräulein Rahm played by a scene stealing Sam Rockwell and Rebel Wilson respectively.

Rahm is basically German Rebel Wilson, but Rockwell turns Klenzendorf into a surprisingly supportive authority figure. That honor actually belongs to Jojo’s kind mother Rosie. For her layered portrayal, Scarlett Johansson was nominated twice in the same year. Though she seems like a Nazi to everyone she knows, Rosie secretly opposes the war and harbors a Jew in her attic. Thomasin McKenzie is so spunky and likeable as Elsa that even Jojo starts to fall for her. At first he just wants to get information about Jews, but the humorous tone slowly fades as Jojo sees the truth. It’s incredibly tense when the Gestapo drop by and Adolf stops being so friendly. An unexpected twist is surprisingly emotional, but the thought of dancing is enough to give Jojo and Elsa hope that World War II will end. Jojo Rabbit is perfect anti-hate propaganda.

Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit goes running with Adolf