How many filmmakers can make a movie about a young Nazi boy whose best friend is an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler and then turn that premise into one of the most heartwarming movies of the year? The answer is very, very few but thankfully Taika Waititi is more than up to the task — Jojo Rabbit is absolutely wonderful.
Even more so than the movie’s premise, Jojo Rabbit essentially relies on Waititi carefully navigating a minefield of tone between comedy and drama, and he does so gracefully. I expected the comedy to outweigh the drama a bit, but the movie goes to some dark places that I honestly never thought it would, and it’s truly heartbreaking while never feeling cheap or exploitative. This makes it all the more impressive that Jojo Rabbit is easily one of the funniest movies of the year, as while it never shies away from how evil Nazis are, it’s nice to see a movie that also focuses on how much Nazis are absolute idiots. I found it appropriate that the movie is shown from a kid’s perspective, portraying the harm that propaganda can have on children from a young age who — despite their blind fanaticism — hardly know why they’re fighting. The child’s perspective relies entirely on Roman Griffin Davis, who not only gives one of the best performances of the entire year, but also one of the best child actor performances I’ve ever seen. Thomasin Mckenzie also gives a touching performance, as her chemistry with Davis provides a strong emotional bedrock for the movie.
This movie truly has every reason to be a tone-deaf mess, yet Jojo Rabbit is anything but. It’s one of the best movies of the year, and ultimately a take on a well-documented tragedy that feels as unique as it is important, so much so that you might even tear up in between laughing. It’s also a resounding rebuttal to ignorance and hatred, as well as the notion that there’s nothing worth seeing in theaters right now.
“Jojo Rabbit” is Ben Watches Things Approved