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Jojo Rabbit


A World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.

"Taika Waititi gives the finger to der Fuehrer with the meaningful lunacy of “Jojo Rabbit,” winner of the Grolsch People’s Choice Award at TIFF 2019. Billed as “anti-hate satire” and set in Germany during the dying days of the Second World War, it summons the zaniness of Mel Brooks, the deadpan whimsy of Wes Anderson and innumerable parodies of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, ranging from Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” to TV’s “Hogan’s Heroes.”

The film’s essence, however, comes from the audacious brilliance of New Zealand writer/director/actor Waititi, whose half-Maori, half-Jewish background makes him a particularly potent force to rattle Hitler’s bones. Waititi deftly treads a tightrope between wicked satire and bad taste. He sets the tone early on with vintage newsreel footage of sieg-heiling Nazis, set to the German version of the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” It’s whistling past the graveyard, and it helps makes “Jojo Rabbit” one of year’s boldest and best movies.

Sensational newcomer Roman Griffin Davis is 10-year-old Jojo, a blond and wide-eyed Aryan exemplar who badly wants to be a good Nazi. He lives with his devoted-yet-distant mom Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), in a home that’s missing a father (he’s either at war or MIA) and grieving an older sister (she’s not long dead and keenly missed). A new Hitler Youth recruit, badge number 443, Jojo is determined to impress his idol Adolf, played by Waititi, who takes the form of an imaginary friend. Adolf is an exuberant abstraction who says things like “correctamundo!”, dines on roast unicorn and praises Jojo for being “the bestest, most loyal little Nazi I ever met!”

Young Jojo has completely bought into the Nazi ethos that Jews are evil and a threat to the Fatherland, to be hunted and eliminated with dispatch and without feeling.

To quote “Caging Skies,” the serious novel by Christine Leunens that Waititi loosely adapted and enlivened for his screenplay: “Feelings were mankind’s most dangerous enemy.” Jojo is trying so hard to be inhuman, but he just doesn’t have it in him. When he’s ordered to strangle a rabbit at a shambolic Hitler Youth training session — Sam Rockwell and Rebel Wilson steal every scene as hapless instructors — Jojo refuses and runs away, with the taunt “Jojo Rabbit” ringing in his ears. Yet he remains loyal to the cause, even when he suffers serious injury from it.

A real challenge to Jojo’s ideology comes when he discovers that his mother, a secret member of the Resistance, is hiding a Jew in their very home: teenage Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie, the revelation from “Leave No Trace”)." - Toronto Star

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Directed by: 
Taika Waititi
Running Time: 
Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson
Screenplay by: 
Taika Waititi (screenplay), Christine Leunens (novel)

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