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.