Jojo Rabbit (2019)

2019 #145
Taika Waititi | 108 mins | cinema | 1.85:1 | USA, New Zealand & Czech Republic / English | 12A / PG-13

Jojo Rabbit

So much was said about Jojo Rabbit on its release (last October in the US; at the start of this year here in the UK) — and, indeed, before its release, thanks to it debuting on the festival circuit — that, coming to it now, it feels like there’s nothing fresh to add. Doubly so as it’s been through the usual cycle of backlash and backlash-to-the-backlash (rinsed and repeated several times over). That said, it does seem to have dropped out of the conversation and consciousness somewhat, which perhaps hints at its longer-term reception — in short, it’s no Parasite. (Maybe that’s an unfair comparison anyway, given Parasite is the kind of movie that’s already attracted “greatest of all time” status some places.)

And so, faced with nothing fresh to say, I will instead just explain and/or justify my own full-marks star rating. “Justify” feels like the right word, because some people (some critics, in particular) really took against the film. Others, less vitriolic, thought it didn’t measure up to writer-director Taika Waititi’s high standard. I don’t think it’s as good as Hunt for the Wilderpeople or What We Do in the Shadows (both modern classics, more or less), but I did like it a lot. When it hit the mark with its humour, it was very, very funny; but it balances this with emotional and hard-hitting bits. The balance it strikes between the two is uncommon but well managed. On a micro level, some parts are outstanding (like the title sequence cut to the Beatles), but I also felt it was a little long in places.

My friend Hitler

Before it came out, some were worried about the wider reaction to a comedy where the ‘heroes’ were Nazis. But, of course, Nazis aren’t the heroes, and it’s not difficult to understand that. Indeed, I can see why some critics were saying that, despite expectations, it’s not actually a particularly hard-hitting movie, because it’s not really shocking (unless you’re easily shocked by an imaginary-friend Hitler being a comedic character; and considering that humorous screen depictions of Hitler date back to at least The Great Dictator, so it’s hardly a revolutionary idea).

Despite some doubts, in the end I rounded my score up to a full 5 because, while it’s not perfect, it contains an awful lot that I enjoyed an awful lot. One to rewatch and reconsider, perhaps.

5 out of 5

Jojo Rabbit is available on Sky Cinema and Now TV from today.

2 thoughts on “Jojo Rabbit (2019)

  1. I watched this and really enjoyed it- much preferred it, infact, over Parasite, which suffered in my estimations (probably because of all the hype that film was subjected to – ‘greatest of all time’? I really don’t think so). Jojo seemed to me to be a Nazi Life of Brian, patently ridiculous but a whole lot of fun. The balance between slapstick and profundity was handled really well, I thought.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Parasite already suffers from that “Citizen Kane syndrome” of being too praised — I liked it a lot, but the greatest film of all time? How do you even judge a thing like that? (Okay, in terms of Letterboxd’s list, no one’s judged it, it’s just got the ratings to put it up there, but even that seems mad.)

      Anyway, Jojo — “Nazi Life of Brian” is a good call! It’s not quite as absurd as the Pythons, and I think has more grit and pathos (it doesn’t lose sight of the fact atrocities were committed). but it definitely has that same vibe of pillorying something that wholly deserves it.

      Liked by 1 person

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