JoJo Rabbit Review The Buff and The Blazer
There’s no question that Taika Waititi has become one of the most skilled and effective directors in Hollywood today. His latest film, JoJo Rabbit showcases a masterful use of humor to craft a deeply meaningful and important story. The film contains full servings of both slapstick comedy and heavy drama without compromise. It is extremely funny, uplifting, dark, tragic and hopeful all at once. That delicate balance of tone, compounded by the satirical use of Nazi imagery and ideology of the time and setting, is a feat only Taika Waititi could have accomplished. He certainly deserves mention among the great comedic satirists and dramatic filmmakers. The themes and tone of JoJo Rabbit make it as meaningful as Schindler’s List and as funny as Young Frankenstein. Those elements are worth a closer look.
As mentioned earlier, JoJo Rabbit is a fantastic comedy. It contains some blatant slapstick comedic visuals that appear exaggerated and fantastical. Many of the scenes that appear in this way, directly involve the Nazis or their overall influence on the population. Taika Waititi has often said in interviews that JoJo Rabbit is a kind of war film that’s never really been done before because it is told through the eyes of a child. The imagery of the film matches seamlessly with that vision. The Nazi characters such as Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell), Fraulein Rahm (Rebel Wilson) and especially Taika Waititi’s Adolf, are exaggerated in appearance and dialogue. It allows viewers to immediately pick up on the ridiculousness of Nazi ideology, while also allowing for great comedic moments.
Aside from the visual elements of the film, it is the dialogue that solidifies JoJo Rabbit as one of the best-written films of the year. The scenes with JoJo (Roman Griffin Davis) and Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) contain some of the film’s most witty dialogue. Whether it’s JoJo’s fanatical remarks or Elsa’s sarcastically perceptive rebuttals, the moments shared between the two characters are a joy to watch. Another great example of witty and ridiculous dialogue comes at the beginning of the film. During an organized Hitler youth gathering, the leaders (Captain Klenzendorf and Fraulein Rahm) brief the eager crowd. Their instructions to the young participants are both ridiculous and accurate for the time period. The fact that we can look back on that history and immediately understand how absurd and disturbing it was, makes its portrayal in JoJo Rabbit even more effective for modern audiences.
Aside from its wonderful comedy, JoJo Rabbit also works as a powerful drama and statement on the tragic events of the 1940s. Compared to a classic such as Schindler’s List, JoJo Rabbit has just as much to say. But unlike Schindler’s List, JoJo Rabbit does so in a more digestible way that can appeal to a broader audience. Scarlett Johansson’s performance grounds the film and allows viewers to step back and understand its broader themes. Her character Rosie, being a single mother who must nurture her fanatical son while also trying to steer him right, allows for great dramatic moments. On top of that, she is also harboring a young Jewish girl (Elsa).
The moments between Rosie and Elsa are beautifully tender and highlight the importance of compassion and empathy. The film is also very effective at showing the dangers of extreme fanaticism and how easily people can become enveloped by it. Taika Waititi does not shy away from the seriousness of the issue and the darkness it can bring. This is on full display at the expense of a character that will not be named as to not spoil the film.
Despite some of its heavier themes, JoJo Rabbit ends on an extremely hopeful note. Ultimately, at its core, the film is about love. Its message can appeal to people of all ages and its themes are appropriate even for today. Even though those themes can be heavy, the film never gets bogged down by the weight of its own purpose. It is extremely enjoyable to watch. For these reasons, JoJo Rabbit is sure to solidify itself as one of the great classics of our time.
JoJo Rabbit is available on home video now!
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